• Politics
    The Daily Beast

    By Picking Joe Biden, Democrats Are Kissing Their Future Goodbye

    A generation of Democrats is haunted by the party’s infamous 1968 convention in Chicago. After one of the most tumultuous presidential primaries in US history—in which the incumbent Lyndon Johnson withdrew from the race, in which Bobby Kennedy built a multiracial working-class coalition before he was shot and killed, and in which the young college students and activists of the New Left rallied behind Eugene McCarthy, all against the backdrop of urban riots, Vietnam, and a breakaway segregationist faction—the Democratic establishment chose to nominate Johnson’s vice president, Hubert Humphrey, to maintain its control over the party. Student demonstrators revolted outside the convention hall and were brutally suppressed by Mayor Richard Daley’s police force. That fall, the Democrats blew a winnable election to the race-baiting populism of Richard Nixon, the first of many election losses to come before the baby boomers finally consolidated control of the party under Bill Clinton.Now history is repeating itself, as Marx warned, as farce, with Bernie Sanders decisively winning the argument over the party’s future while meeting unshakeable resistance from a Democratic establishment composed largely of politicians who were shaped by 1968.The fact that Joe Biden is beating Sanders by two-to-one margins across the country conceals the equally consistent fact of a stark generational divide within the Democratic primary electorate, with Sanders winning voters under 45 by blowout margins (unfortunately for him, there are far more voters over 45 and Biden is winning them by even bigger margins). A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that strong enthusiasm for Biden among his supporters is the lowest of any Democratic nominee in 20 years, and dramatically trails enthusiasm for Donald Trump among his supporters—a sign, perhaps, of the dangers of nominating a candidate who has completely failed to connect with the younger voters who helped propel Barack Obama to the presidency. At a moment where young people are experiencing radical upheaval, the Democrats are once again promising more of the same.To be sure, there are many crucial differences between 1968 and today. Since the South Carolina primary, Democrats across the country have made clear their preference for the establishment-approved moderate, Biden, over the champion of today’s New Left, Sanders. Biden’s coalition includes most African-American voters and many working-class white voters who chose Sanders over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Unlike Humphrey, Biden can claim to have been chosen by voters, not by party insiders in smoke-filled rooms.But at least to younger voters, it is Sanders, not Biden, who is speaking to a moment of crisis. If the crisis in 1968 was the Vietnam War and the breakdown of the white supremacist social order, today it is the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the resulting financial collapse (the second one millennials have experienced in our young careers), and decades of dehumanizing oligarchic misgovernance, of which Trump is only the most egregious example. Sanders is promising a generation that has never known stability or optimism that a better world is possible; Biden, who in 2018 told millennials he had “no empathy” for our predicament, is insisting both that the pre-Trump status quo can be resumed and that doing so would be desirable.Sanders’ supporters—and here I refer not to his most vocal and combative boosters on Twitter, a cohort in which I might include myself, but to the millions of young people of all backgrounds who have responded to his message—deserve to have our voices heard and our concerns met with substantive promises and empathetic rhetoric. Putting aside what we deserve, the Democrats cannot reasonably hope to beat Trump in November without millennials turning out in force. The Biden campaign is reportedly aware of this, but thus far has been totally inadequate in attempting to address it.The moment when these divisions within the party might have been addressed was at this summer’s planned Democratic National Convention two hours north of Chicago (likely faster in quarantine traffic) in Milwaukee. Unfortunately, the coronavirus makes the prospect of gathering tens of thousands of people around an urban convention center a nonstarter, as Biden himself acknowledged this week, proposing instead an unprecedented virtual convention compatible with social distancing.While the public health rationale for this is hard to dispute, it also represents a lost opportunity for Sanders supporters to make our voices heard and to force Biden and the rest of the Democratic establishment to acknowledge and court us. Instead of traveling to Milwaukee to demand radical changes to the social contract in person, we will be relegated to taking potshots on social media while Biden and his chosen speakers deliver empty rhetoric to empty rooms.The coronavirus, which has validated everything Sanders has been saying for years about the unconscionable state of US health care, labor, and infrastructure, should be radicalizing us; instead, social distancing is pacifying us. One suspects that Biden, who unlike Sanders showed little ability to draw large crowds to his rare pre-pandemic public events, might be quietly grateful to be holding a stage-managed, un-disruptable convention before a captive and helpless virtual audience.It doesn’t have to be this way. If Democrats are serious about exciting their entire base in November to defeat Trump, there are still steps they can take to win over the Sanders coalition. Sanders should (and, one expects, will) be given a prominent speaking role at the virtual convention; his allies like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib should be as well. Biden should make explicit in his own remarks that he understands and empathizes with younger voters’ legitimate anger. But endorsements and speeches won’t be enough. Biden must also embrace the substantive aspects of Sanders’ platform—including Medicare For All, which exit polls across the country show clear support for, as well as the Green New Deal and tuition-free college—that have galvanized millennials. Everything about the virtual convention could be designed to showcase this agenda.While it might seem like a radical break from the platform Biden has run on, we are living through a radical break in our lived experience of the economy. Millions of Americans have just lost their jobs, and with them their employer-sponsored private health insurance, through no fault of their own. Now would be an ideal time for Biden and the Democratic Party to announce that expansions of the social safety net that once seemed radical have become urgently necessary.But while it would be fatalistic not to demand these things, it may be unrealistic to expect the Democrats to deliver. Everything about Biden’s public record suggests that he takes young voters for granted, doesn’t respect us or take our concerns seriously, and is preparing for a convention that will leave us deflated and alienated from electoral politics for years to come. If that doesn’t change, we won’t be able to express our frustration by massing outside a convention hall like Biden’s generation did in 1968. More likely, many of us will express it the only way we’re able to express anything at the moment: by staying home.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

  • U.S.

    U.S. Stocks Sink, Erasing 3.5% Gain; Oil Declines: Markets Wrap

    (Bloomberg) -- Stocks closed lower in volatile trading as investors debated whether the spread of the coronavirus may be slowing in several major economies. Oil sank and bonds retreated.The S&P 500 Index fell 0.2% after surging as much as 3.5%. The benchmark briefly met the time-honored definition for the start of a bull market after climbing 20% from its March 23 low. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index advanced after the rate of new infections slowed in France and in Italy, the original epicenter of the continent’s outbreak.“We’re going to continue to be very volatile, and you’re going to see this roller coaster continue,” said Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA. “We will see a test of the bottoms again.”New York’s rate of new coronavirus infections tapered for a third straight day, stoking optimism that the pandemic may finally be approaching a peak in the state where it has hit hardest.Oil sank to the weakest level since the start of the month as investors weighed whether the world’s biggest producers will be able to strike a deal that cuts enough output to offset an unprecedented demand loss from the coronavirus outbreak.“With the volatility being so wild lately, it doesn’t take much for the buyers to pull-in their horns,” said Matt Maley, equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co. “When oil rolled over, stock buyers got a little nervous.”Elsewhere, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose more than 2% after adding nearly 3% a day earlier. Chinese stocks climbed and the yuan strengthened in the wake of further targeted stimulus by policy makers as Shanghai reopened after a long weekend. China said it didn’t have any new deaths for the first time since the pandemic emerged.These are some of the main moves in markets:For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Health

    Canada's top doctor says she'll wear a mask when physical distancing isn't possible

    After downplaying the effectiveness of non-medical face masks, both the chief public health officer and federal health minister now say they would wear them in cases where physical distancing isn't possible in public.Theresa Tam, the country's top doctor, said Tuesday that while the scientific research "is not quite there" yet on the effectiveness of non-medical masks in stopping the spread of COVID-19, she wouldn't hesitate to use a mask when grocery shopping or riding transit."That's one option," she said of wearing a mask. "It is an added layer of prevention and protecting the spreading to others."Tam has suggested a t-shirt or bed sheet could be fashioned into a homemade mask. But medical-grade masks should be strictly reserved for health care professionals, given the ongoing shortages, Tam said.Health Minister Patty Hajdu said she hasn't had to wear a mask to this point because she's been able to maintain that two metre distance between herself and others — but she would wear one if it meant protecting others in confined spaces.She said she would probably feel the need to "fiddle with that mask, given the newness" — which is one of the public health risks associated with wearing a mask.There are concerns that wearing a mask might encourage people to touch their faces more than they normally would, which also could lead to infection.Watch: Dr. Tam, Hajdu say they will wear masks when in publicPrime Minister Justin Trudeau said today he will follow the advice of medical professionals on the mask question. He said homemade masks are a sensible solution as they essentially act like a shirt sleeve — a place to catch a cough or sneeze without spreading it around."My understanding of what Dr. Tam explained yesterday is that if people want to wear a mask, that's OK. It protects others more than it protects you, because it prevents you from breathing or speaking moistly on them."(The prime minister cringed visibly after the words "speaking moistly" left his mouth. "Oh, what a terrible image," he said.)Watch: Trudeau says masks will prevent people from 'speaking moistly' While Canada's two top health authorities said they'd wear masks while in public, they cautioned that masks should be worn in conjunction with pursuing other hygiene practices, such as frequent hand-washing.The commitment to wearing non-medical masks in public comes after the Public Health Agency of Canada changed its recommendations on the medical devices Monday.While Tam and other public health officials have discouraged healthy people from wearing masks, the public health officer said Monday that homemade masks might actually help to slow the spread of COVID-19 as they can catch wayward droplets from pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic people."It's not necessarily there to protect myself. I think there has to be that reality check. I still have to do the hand-washing and still do the physical distancing as much as possible," Tam said. "I think that is reasonable and feasible advice."