Post Super Tuesday: The Septuagenarian Scramble Begins

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Image courtesy of flickr.com

So it’s come to this: two old white guys duking it out to see who can take on the third: the youngest, least qualified, and clearly impaired. I’d like to hear a relentless drumbeat as the press insists upon the release of complete, up-to-date medical records for each of them, based on examinations by reputable sources (not that wacky guy who declared before 2016 that Trump, if elected, would be the healthiest president in the history of the solar system—or perhaps the universe). 

To be sure, both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are flawed candidates (as are just about all the others—but none even remotely as flawed as the current White House occupant).

Listen to Abigail Adams…

when she wrote to her husband John in 1776: Remember the Ladies!

I would have strongly preferred a younger person, one of the extremely competent women, and I hope whoever wins the nomination will select a woman of color as his vice presidential nominee.

That action would enhance the possibility of a woman leading the administration following this successful Democratic one. There are so many highly qualified women to choose from.

Building a coalition to secure the nomination and win the election is one thing; building a coalition that brings the public along to govern is quite another. It’s about time this country got over its fear of a woman in the White House—and at the same time made greater strides toward that “more perfect union.”

I watched Elizabeth Warren being interviewed by Rachel Maddow the day after she withdrew. Rachel asked her what her views were about the economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and what needed to be done.

In minutes, though unprepared for the question, she gave a stunningly knowledgeable, far-ranging, and specific response that prompted Rachel to say it would be nice if we had a President who could think and quickly articulate such a vision. 

Yet Warren, who devoted herself to taking selfies and relating the stories of real people on the campaign trail, and lamented in the interview that her withdrawal might disappoint all the little girls with whom she’d made a “pinky promise” to run for President “because that’s what girls do,” was found to be “unlikable” and “condescending.” See this Atlantic article, “America Punished Elizabeth Warren for Her Competence.”

Although neither Biden nor Bernie was my first choice, I remain committed to voting for whoever wins the nomination. I was struck, however, by the stark difference in their speeches on Super Tuesday evening.

Biden spoke of unity and reclaiming the soul of our country; his swipes at Bernie were relatively mild and inferential: “I’m a Democrat; always have been, always will be,” and “The people of this country want results, not revolution.”

Bernie came out on full bore attack: Biden’s Iraq War vote, his support of trade deals harmful to workers, etc. His attack mode was understandable: in a dizzying 72 hours, he’d gone from being the front-runner to second place in the all-important delegate count (though California hasn’t fully reported yet). 

What bothered me weren’t so much the attacks; it was Bernie’s silence when his statements about Biden drew loud boos from his audience.

I was reminded of President Obama’s approach in such situations. He’d say “Don’t boo; vote!” Surely, if Bernie has a true path to the nomination at this point, he must encourage the huge numbers of eager young supporters whom he promised to bring into the party—and on whom he’s been relying for his revolution—to get their zealous young bodies to the polls in the states that remain to be decided. 

To date, their participation when it counts has been underwhelming, and it was actually Biden who was responsible for impressive increases in voter turnout in a number of states. And when you consider the voter suppression by Republicans in closing polling places and conducting other tactics specifically designed to reduce participation by people of color, those numbers are even more impressive. And when you consider that Bloomberg’s presence held down Biden’s potential total, well, enough said.

Congressman Jim Clyburn, whose endorsement of Biden in South Carolina led the tidal wave change, may well go down in history as the man who saved our democracy. Clyburn was modest about his role: 

“All I did was remind people of the fact that some folks tend to confuse goodness with weakness.”

Which brings me to the persistent charge that “the Establishment” is out to get Bernie. It’s no surprise that Trump&CO have picked up that battle cry: it’s the best chance they have to further disrupt the democratic process and help Trump win.

But I hope Bernie himself—somewhat sobered by his modest showing in states where he campaigned hard and expected to win—and at least some of his more thoughtful supporters, will give up on the canard that “the Establishment” carried Biden through the remarkable Super Tuesday sweep. 

Some Illuminating Tweets

I’ve recently joined the Twitterverse—not to tweet, but to see comments from others. Here’s a sampling that I think helps explain what happened on Super Tuesday.

These two tweets were by Phillippe Reines, a rather wacky guy who worked for Hillary.  I don’t follow him, but I find the substance relevant:

“Biden’s not winning because of the establishment.

He’s winning despite it.

After Nevada, the party’s poobahs & bundlers were nowheresville.

Voters in South Carolina grabbed this by the horns.

Voters in 14 states brought it home.

The ‘establishment’ is following, not leading.”

And then this:

“Biden has raised less than Bernie.

Biden has spent less than Bernie. Biden hasn’t run TV ads everywhere. Bernie has.

Biden doesn’t have offices everywhere. Bernie has.

This isn’t the establishment, not insiders, not donors. There’s no rigging.

It’s voters…voting.”

And here are two responses from people I’d never heard of:

“I’ll leave it to the experts to deconstruct the Biden surge tonight. But for me, a privileged 60 yr old left center leaning white man, SC gave me the permission to rally for Biden. I can’t describe why or what but thank you, SC African Americans for giving me courage.”

This tweet’s from a woman:

“I think many people did not take into account how desperately people want to get back to normalcy. When I think back to the last time things were normal, Biden was there.”

To those who found something “establishmently nefarious” (I made that up) in the quick exits/endorsements of Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, here’s how Amy responded to questions in an exit interview with The New York Times:

How did you know it was time to end your campaign?

She mentioned several factors and then said she knew she would win her own state. 

“And I thought, ‘Well, that would be good. Good way to end.’ But then I thought, why would I just do that for myself? Maybe I can actually deliver this for Joe Biden knowing that he was at like 10 percent or 15. So I talked to my campaign manager on Sunday morning, and then I was in the church in Selma and I kept thinking that this is the right decision…’ 

Did you discuss any positions with Mr. Biden or anything like that should he win the White House?

 I knew every position he had, every single one of them. We did 10 debates. He was on the stage for——”

No, no, I mean, positions in a possible future administration. 

“Oh, you can see we didn’t because I didn’t even know what you were talking about. No, we did not. No, not at all. I wouldn’t even have thought of doing that. I was endorsing him to help him. And it didn’t even cross my mind to try to make some deal or anything like that.”

I don’t expect ardent conspiracy theorists to believe in the purity of motivation I’m citing here, but I think thoughtful people who keep an open mind should see that there is still decency and a sense of purpose toward shared goals for the good of our country among some politicians.

Next Moves Are Important

If Biden does as well in the forthcoming contests as he has to date, I hope Bernie—who was the only candidate who said during a debate that the person with a plurality of delegates should be granted the nomination—will help avoid a brokered convention. 

He did say on Rachel Maddow’s show that if Biden has a plurality entering the convention, he should be the nominee. The question is whether/how long Sanders would continue fighting before the convention if it’s clear he can’t win the nomination. If he chooses that approach, it would be harder for him to bring his supporters along to a reconciliation and would simply help President Trump’s reelection.

And if Biden wins the election, I hope Bernie and his folks will understand that many of us who don’t want a revolution are just as concerned as they are about addressing the obscene economic inequality in this country, and about expanding health care, improving education, seriously tackling climate change, et al—and are just as committed to pressing for solutions. 

What a powerful coalition we would have if there were a willingness to compromise for the greater good!

Nicholas Kristof’s Op Ed in The New York Times made sense to me. He wrote:

“I’m closer to some of Sanders’s positions than to Biden’s, and I particularly admire Sanders’s leadership and authenticity on human rights issues like Yemen. But I don’t think Sanders would be able to accomplish his aims as president any more than he has been able to as a senator (he was a primary sponsor of only seven bills that became law, and they are mostly insignificant items, such as naming post offices or designating ‘Vermont  Bicentennial Day).’”

After discussing the Republicans’ apparently “giddy” attitude about the prospect of a Sanders nomination, and Democratic House members’ expressions of concern to him about what Sanders’ heading the ticket might do to the Democrats’ chances not only of taking the Senate but also retaining control of the House,  Kristof concludes:

“I think the Democrats with Biden have a good chance of winning the presidency, holding the House and perhaps taking the Senate. An economic slowdown seems likely because of the coronavirus, which also highlights Trump’s administrative incompetence. And Republican rhetoric about Democrats as socialists — the theme of CPAC [Conservative Political Action Conference] this year was ‘America vs. Socialism’ — is laughable if Biden is on top of the ticket.

“So while Biden’s proposals aren’t as soaring as Sanders’s, nor as comprehensive as I would like, they strike me as more achievable. In that sense, Biden may be the real candidate of change.” (emphasis mine)

As I’ve written previously, we need an outpouring of Citizen Activism to ensure that we win not only the Presidency, but also the House, Senate, Governorships, and state legislatures.

Annie 

 

25 thoughts on “Post Super Tuesday: The Septuagenarian Scramble Begins

  1. With voter turnout lower in 2020 than 2016 it shows Bernie doesn’t turn out the vote. It also shows a tepid Democratic electorate. I know I preach to my self, but Biden was always my vote. When he fell from grace during the impeachment I was ready to change. However, everything else changed around me.

    My sermon is the 2018 mid terms turnout increased 20-40% over previous midterms. Dems took state houses in huge numbers and flipped the house. If that enthusiasm can be brought to the 2020 then Dems can retake 3 states that Hillary lost by a mere 80,000 votes and Trump walked to Washington.

    Bernie needs to concede early, be thoughtful and not attacking and bring his troops to the voting booth for the fate of the country.

    Hallelujah!

    End sermon.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. A good sermon. However, turnout on Super Tuesday was much higher in a number of states: the Biden coalition of African Americans, suburban women, and older white voters was extremely impressive—and he did ok with younger voters in some areas too. If this pattern holds, we could see very positive results in November.

      Good to hear from you, Charles!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. First, I am happy that you got to celebrate a good Super Tuesday. As the one on the sidelines, it really was an interesting thing to watch. He really did come roaring back from near-death and now finds himself with a real chance.

    Biden v. Sanders. Two “what you see is what you get” candidates. Sanders is, well, Sanders. He has spent his adult life in the political fringes, more sure of himself than it is healthy to be. He really has admired the Communists of his youth and has never grown beyond that phase. And you have to love the idea of a millionaire socialist.

    Biden? He is a regular guy. I think his father owned a car dealership. He is one of the last of the old-school Democrats who was at home in the union halls. He is also one of the old-school pols who has spent a lifetime being a bit malleable, which is sometimes good and sometimes not. Bernie didn’t get along with anyone in congress, Biden got along with almost everyone. I will confess to chafing at the practicing Catholic who has been an avid abortion supporter, but then that has been the tradeoff almost every Catholic Democrat has had to make to remain in politics. Which says which of the two he values more.

    Biden v. Trump? An excellent question. Biden is the perfect candidate for “back to business as usual.” Trump is, of course, not that candidate. I do worry about Biden’s vitality and acuity. He has always been a gaffe machine, but he seems worse now. And now they are not the kind of gaffes you make fun of, but the ones that make you feel a little sorry for the old guy. Biden will win on sympathy 10 times out of 10. So I guess the question is what is more important to voters – “normalcy” or disruption. I don’t have the answer.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. An interesting overview, JP. I have been less worried about Biden’s vitality and acuity since he came roaring back. But we’ll have to see. I suspect we’re more likely to get his medical records than either Bernie’s or trump’s.
      I found the Super Tuesday phenomenon fascinating. Apparently, many would-be voters were waiting for some kind of sign because they just didn’t know what to do. Jim Clyburn’s calling Biden “a good man” who “knows us” clearly resonated with voters black and white.
      But I don’t think business as usual will be acceptable; we have too many issues pressing on us that demand government action. ( I realize you may disagree with that comment.)
      Thank you for expressing happiness for me! That was most gracious, my friend from across the aisle. I’ll be happier still if—having secured the nomination—he selects a strong, energetic running mate who can widely be viewed as acceptable as a potential President if needed.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks, Annie, for another great contribution. I agree with pretty much all of this, though I have liked Joe Biden from the beginning. I agree with your contrast between Joe’s and Bernie’s speeches on the night of last week’s Super Tuesday–Biden’s was uniting and Bernie’s was divisive. I do think Joe Biden is fully capable of beating Trump in November, and would be a fine President. While I think that Bernie Sanders would do okay as President–certainly batter than Trump–I really have doubts , as a democratic socialist (and the Republicans would surely leave out the “democratic” part), that he can win the November election. Also, as my wife says, Bernie “isn’t a Democrat”! What does it say about him that the only identification he has with the Democratic Party is when he runs to become it’s Presidential nominee?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Great post, Annie, as always. My two cents: It’s highly appropriate that Trump will likely be the “baby” of the major party candidates this November. He’s as childish as they come, prone to tantrums, and unable to see beyond his own wants and needs. If Biden gets the nomination, here’s hoping that Bernie works energetically to encourage his followers to vote for Biden. His half- hearted endorsement of Hillary in 2016–and the tendency of Bernie Bros to vote third party or stay home—was a big factor in Trump’s electoral college win.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I don’t get it. I liked Warren and didn’t find her condescending at all or anything negative for that matter.
    But I’ll vote for anyone, to hopefully stop trump from continuing total chaos.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Warren’s talents are broad and deep, and I’m sure she will continue to play an important role in our national life. But we are becoming a minority-majority country, and I believe the selection of an inspiring African American woman would be the appropriate and equitable way for us to move toward unity in our divided country. Thanks for commenting, Matthew; good to hear from you!

      Like

  6. I’m super happy you’re fighting the good fight here. I’m with you, for Biden. We have to be realists. If only people had been realists in the last election that involved Sanders…

    Great post, Annie.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Nadine! I do feel we’re fighting the good fight, and our bizarro status quo with the unstable incompetent in the White House must end ASAP.
      I am most appreciative of your comment and encouragement.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Insightful and interesting, as usual. I would like to make a point about the Biden “comeback” . Sanders was never “in the lead” as far as I could see. Except in the words of the pundits, who are never right about anything. Something to keep in mind.
    After the first 3 caucuses/primaries, about 1% of the delegates had been selected. Based on Sanders leading, the pundits had him as some great “frontrunner”. It would be like watching a baseball game. The pitcher throws a strike on the first pitch and the announcer says: “He’s pitching a perfect game!!!. How will the other team ever recover from that first pitch. How can they stop him!!!”
    The real game was not going to begin until Super Tuesday. Biden never made a great comeback, he always had the majority of votes of the Democratic rank and file.
    So, let’s not fall into the trap of “punditry” . Biden was never really behind in any meaningful way. Only is the words of the pundits, who are paid to make flippant analyses of candidates and
    issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much, Joseph. I’m not sure it was solely the pundits that were throwing us off. If the crowded field of moderates had continued dividing the vote, Super Tuesday might have been very different. Many people were undecided before Jim Clyburn’s endorsement. I believe his stature, emotional speech, and moral clarity provided Biden voters with the jolt of confidence they needed to pull the lever for Biden. Hopefully, he can continue as strongly as he’s appeared since Super Tuesday through November. He’ll need to be both tough and decent under the terrible Republican onslaught intent on destroying his credibility and candidacy.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What a wonderful piece of presentation on the clear and present dilemma in the mind of American voters today. You were really humorous at times, but without losing sight of your plot. I hope the best and most qualified woman/man anoints to the post, because not only the US but the whole world, still look up to the USA, for world leadership. My only regret is that, slowly and steadily, that baton is slipping from America’s hands, and that picture is very scary.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sandomina—Thank you for your kind words. I’m delighted to welcome you to annieasksyou and so pleased that I am now also connected with your very thoughtful and informative blog. We Americans tend to be woefully insular, I fear (especially now, when we’re fighting to preserve our democracy), so your broad views will be a great value to me. I look forward to our continuing exchanges.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Sidenote — Annie, on my computer, the “green box” inserts itself over the title of your post. Not sure if this is true for everyone, but it might be worth looking into.

    On topic — enjoyed the reasoning in your post. And I too do the Twitter thing without commenting. I don’t check it everyday, but it’s always an eye-opener when I do. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Nan—
      First, a hearty welcome to annieasksyou. I’m so pleased to have you with me and look forward to your thoughtful comments when you care to make them.
      Thanks very much for telling me about the “green box.” I’ve seen it on my computer, but for some reason assumed it wasn’t visible to other people. I shall take the matter up with the WP HEs ASAP.
      Glad you enjoyed my reasoning. Twitter is a whole new world, best visited for brief periods, methinks.
      Cheers,
      Annie

      Like

  10. I was disappointed, as well, to see our competent women, one by one, suspend their campaigns. You have articulated that loss beautifully. Like you, and I suppose many of us, I will support the winner here one hundred percent. Neither front runner has been my choice to date, but that’s now history. Deep respect for the women who got up every day, ran their races, and fought for our democracy.
    Meanwhile, did you happen to read “#Winning” by Andrew Marantz in the March 9, 2020 issue of The New Yorker? It’s about how Facebook advertising won Trump the presidency — and no, that’s not an overstatement. I raise the issue here because I don’t think ANY of the candidates to date and not the remaining two understand and can execute what it takes to use digital tools to shape opinion. I don’t say that’s a good thing — still trying to figure out where the lines should be drawn — but I will say it’s a for-real thing and if the Dems expect to succeed, I sure hope they’re on it. Shook me to my core.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, as always, Denise. Haven’t read Marantz piece yet, but it’s within reach, so I’ll do that tonight. In my “determined to be positive” mode, I’m thinking the disastrous handling of the pandemic may reach people in a way that supersedes any digital advantage. But thank you for calling my attention to a piece that may shake me to my core!😉

      Like

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