It’s pragmatic to be progressive

The common argument for Joe Biden is that out of all the Democrats running for President, he holds a unique position in his ability to deny Donald Trump four more years in the White House. Many voters might prefer alternative, potentially more progressive candidates, but finding their desire to oust Trump so great, they are willing to choose a Democrat who aligns less closely with their ideals so long as he (yes it’s inevitably ‘he’) is the most electable. But all is not as it seems; because Joe Biden is not that electable at all.

Yes, he is clocking in at 77 years young, has held a plethora of suboptimal policy positions and is not all too smooth on the stump, but the fact is that Democrats knew all this eight months ago, shrugged their shoulders and thought ‘so what?’. Maybe they thought that ‘Middle-Class Joe’ would be able to take back those white working-class Obama-Trump voters of the midwest. Maybe ‘Pennsylvania’s 3rd Senator’ would be palatable enough for Wisconsin, Michigan and, you guessed it, Pennsylvania. Maybe this could happen; but here is why I do not think that it will.

Name one Democrat who started as a favourite in the primaries and went on to win the Presidency. Go on. 10 nerd points if you guessed FDR (the most recent). Hilary Clinton lost. Al Gore lost. The fact is that dark-horse-Democrats are the only game in town. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were all plucky underdogs who came from behind and snatched the nomination. I’ve got a hunch that it’s because the Democratic message tends to be one of hope and inspiration and this comes better from a fresh, uplifting politician. The Republicans have more of a reputation for pragmatism, although I’m not sure how long that will last. ‘Grit your teeth and vote for a Democrat’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

But if we look at the History of Republicans it seems they are not all too fond of ‘safe bets’ either. President Mitt Romney never became a reality; nor did President John McCain or Bob Dole. Whoever is the eventual nominee is probably going to need some Republican votes if they are going to win – if Republicans are equally put off by play-it-safe types then it’s all the more reason for Democrats to nominate someone who doesn’t fall into that category.
So dream big! Have some chutzpah and take a punt on Warren or Sanders. Give voters a candidate who’s worth waiting hours in line to vote for, someone who creates a movement, someone who inspires.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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