There are two candidates remaining in the race for the Democratic nomination for president.
One, former Vice President Joe Biden, is a moderate who promises incremental change and a return to normality. The other, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, is a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist, who has offered some praise for the regime of the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and promises a revolution.
For the Democratic voter whose main goal is defeating President Donald Trump in November, Biden is the obvious choice.
Many Americans find Trump’s behavior as president distasteful. They are tired of being bombarded by daily stories of this-or-that outrageous presidential statement or tweet. But if faced with a choice between an obnoxious status quo and a socialist revolution designed to bring higher taxes and more government control over our lives, many will deign Trump the lesser of two evils come November.
Democratic moderates realize this. They have coalesced around Biden, whose runaway victory in South Carolina showed he could appeal to the coalition of voters Democrats will need in their corner if Trump is to be defeated in November: African American voters, suburban women, and moderate white voters.
Biden’s appeal to these voters is largely the promise of a revival of the Barack Obama legacy. He remains committed to the Affordable Care Act. He calls for $1.3 trillion in infrastructure investment over a decade and a push to move the country to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.
He’s not vowing to raise our taxes so the government can provide us with “free stuff” like a universal health care plan that would cost $34 trillion over a decade, or tuition-free college for everyone. Instead, he proposes incremental solutions that aim to reduce the burden on working people — without removing the incentive for them to work in the first place.
Biden wants to increase federal investment in the nation’s community colleges and allow people to earn associate degrees without debt. For university students, he proposes doubling Pell Grant funds for low-income students, and restructuring student loan payments so that they are more affordable, with the debt forgiven for borrowers who make on-time payments for 20 years.
Biden is not a “gun-grabber,” but does propose common-sense gun ownership laws. He supports a reinstatement of the ban on the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, a buy-back plan for those weapons already privately held, and a limit of one firearm purchase per month to prevent stockpiling.
Unlike Sanders’ revolutionary agenda, Biden’s won’t be dead on arrival, even in a Republican-controlled House or Senate chamber. A Delaware senator for more than 35 years, Biden would likely have the best chance to reach compromise on federal legislation, rather than relying on executive orders, which are becoming too common from presidents of both parties.
We trust Biden to choose a strong running mate. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar would be an excellent choice to appeal to Midwestern moderate voters.
Biden is not an ideal candidate. At 77, he would be the oldest man ever elected to the office. His propensity for misstatements — on Super Tuesday, he introduced his wife as his sister and vice-versa — and his son Hunter’s trading on his name as a board member of the Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma are two themes we do not expect to go away any time soon.
However, Sanders’ consistent portrayal of American society as a struggle between haves and have-nots and goal to redistribute the nation’s wealth is a message no less divisive than any offered by the current president. Should Sanders win the Democratic nomination, the financial markets will be depressed, and should he win the presidency, many of the gains of the past several years likely would be erased.
But Sanders won’t win an election if he has to appeal to mainstream voters. Should he become the nominee, it seems certain that America will see four more years of a Trump administration.
We endorse Biden in the Democratic primary.