In what can only be described as a whirlwind of biblical proportions, the Democratic Presidential primary campaign of 2020 will most assuredly go down in political history as one of the most unpredictable and taciturn events in the country’s history. In a feat defying reason, rationale, strategic campaigning, and political punditry the Biden campaign resurrection from near certain death and ascension to prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination for President represents with crystal clarity the degree to which the American electorate has abandoned incompetence for integrity.
What is most important at this point, particularly as the nation and world face a public health crisis that will assuredly wreak havoc on both the financial money markets and contemporary human and societal interaction for an undetermined amount of time, is an almost palpable yearning for competent leadership and a steady hand at the helm. There is fairly widespread anxiety that the Trump administration is simply not up to the task. The best that can be hoped for is a bipartisan realization that reliance on scientific expertise as opposed to political chicanery will force the hand of those who currently occupy the White House. This, unfortunately, may even be a stretch but barring an insurrection and invocation of the 25th amendment to remove the President due to mental instability we are more than likely forced to muddle through the next 8 months with our fingers crossed. But then again who in their right mind would have thought we would find ourselves in this position a mere three weeks ago?
There is as much pressure on the Biden camp at this point as there is on the Trump White House. The Bernie Bros are a formidably potent political force, not necessarily in numbers but certainly in passion. And even though Sanders has made his views known that he will support the Democratic nominee, regardless of whether it is him, we have some experience from four years ago that either diversion to a third party candidate (remember Jill Stein) simply out of spite or anger or outright sitting out the election largely due to disappointment is still alive and well as future courses of action assuming either the reality or perception that Bernie is disrespected.
For those who are in favor of pressuring Sanders to wave the white flag of surrender at this point I say not so fast.
Four years ago I supported Sanders in the primary believing that Hillary would win the nomination and I would support the candidate who was blue. This year I supported Biden because I was and am convinced that he is the most likely candidate to defeat Trump, which is the most important goal facing the perpetuation of democracy at this point in our (dev or ev)olution. I respect and agree with Bernie’s passion and policies, however, as I survey this nation I simply am not convinced that the American electorate is supportive of the revolutionary changes that would be required to even attempt to match those policies and passions.
Our nation is divided in a way in which we have probably not witnessed in the past 150 years or so. We need a healer not a firebrand. Biden is the candidate for the job. But for those who are in favor of pressuring Sanders to wave the white flag of surrender at this point I say not so fast. The first rule of crisis decision-making is to secure a resolution that to the best extent possible affords saving face and treating the adversary with a respect that in this case is fully warranted.
This will be Biden’s first true test of the kind of leadership he will offer the country and that is his ability to negotiate not a truce but a partnership with Bernie and his followers to join in the reconstruction of a democratic beacon of hope that is America and is the envy of the world. We need Bernie and his ideas. This is both a political and a policy resolution. There should be no pounding of the chests here, the American people have spoken and we should all agree that for better or worse this is what they feel is needed for the Ultimate Restoration of American Values.
The upcoming debate, mano y mano, between Sanders and Biden will represent a clash of policy not political priorities. This is needed to begin the healing process. Let it be the ultimate civics lesson, one cloaked in civility and integrity and R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Let Senator Sanders be the determiner of his own time table and on terms which will make his supporters proud of their significant endeavors. It may not be a full-blown victory, but in our form of representative democracy it is illustrative of the incrementalist caution that was baked into the system by the founding fathers.
I would love to see and hear Bernie and Joe holding hands high at the convention in Milwaukee with an arena singing in harmony “We Shall Overcome.” I was in Madison Square Garden the night in 1976 that Jimmy Carter accepted the nomination and we all sang that paean to civil rights and liberty and freedom as hope sprang eternal that we could lead the nation out of the ashes of corruption left by Watergate and the disastrously divisive intergenerational carnage that was wrought by our misadventures in Southeast Asia. We are similarly at an inflection point in our history so let’s heed the call to heal our soul.