Former Vice President Joe Biden is currently the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. It is still early in the presidential race, of course, and things could change as they inevitably do. But there are already several problems with his candidacy.
For one thing, I choke on my coffee whenever I hear Biden do his humble-guy shtick: The I’m-originally-from-Scranton-Pennsylvania-and-I-understand-your-everyday-concerns routine.
He is a personally decent man. But the fact is, he is a consummate, long-time Washington insider, who has demonstrated in his long career that he often dances with the ones who brought him: wealthy donors and special interests. But more on that later.
He is currently surging in the polls because ordinary Democrats want a candidate who can defeat President Donald Trump. And they figure the centrist Biden is a better bet to attract independent voters than the more progressive Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.
But have you actually listened closely to Biden lately? Not to be ageist, but the more charitable way to put it is that he isn’t currently at the top of his game. He can stumble and fumble for words and thoughts.
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When you listen to Biden on the campaign trail, you see a candidate trafficking in platitudes galore, about defeating Trump and “mak(ing) America moral again."
Trumpism is here to stay
Excuse me, but right there is the problem: Biden and many Democrats fundamentally misread what happened in 2016. To them, Trump is a temporary aberration, before the usual status-quo politics can be restored.
But Trump was more a symptom, rather than the cause of extreme political dysfunction. Electing Trump was a kind of primal scream by millions of voters fed up with a broken political system with out-of-touch Washington political elites of both parties.
And Trump will, of course, go away, but Trumpism will likely stay.
For my money, the quote of the 2020 race came recently from Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: “What does it matter if we beat Donald Trump if we end up with someone who will perpetuate the very same crony capitalist policies, corporate policies and waging more of these costly wars?”
Candidates like Joe Biden come to mind.
The problem with Biden is that he looks good in soft focus but his candidacy reveals glaring deficiencies that, in these populist times, won’t survive hard scrutiny.
The focus goes beyond his support for the 1994 crime bill which helped lead to mass incarceration, and his, in hindsight, retrograde conduct during the Clarence Thomas hearings.
Biden's record favors elites over Americans
More harmful to his candidacy are his actions that’ve benefited his wealthy benefactors but stick it to the Average Joe and Jane: his support for global trade deals that have decimated the American manufacturing base, his support for financial deregulation, and his support for bankruptcy reform that prevents people from being able to discharge their consumer debt.
And it hasn’t escaped sharp-eyed observers that he started his current campaign by holding a fundraiser attended by corporate lobbyists and wealthy donors.
Not to mention Biden’s support for costly Middle Eastern military interventions that benefit our military industrial complex but have harmed Middle America’s sons and daughters.
The list goes on. Just consider the conflict-of-interest questions raised by his actions in Ukraine and China that involved his son, Hunter.
But hey, if you aren’t paying close attention, Biden is your guy. He is the perfect tool of the oligarchy — affable and decent while sometimes effecting cut-throat policies detrimental to ordinary Americans.
Before Trump has a chance to tear into Biden’s record, his fellow Democrats in the coming primary debates will do so.
This piece is about Biden but is ultimately not about him, but about our oligarchic political system. The best among us may get elected to high office in D.C. with high minded ideals and goals but eventually get co-opted by an insidious system, and gradually become an out-of-touch, often-duplicitous, platitude-mouthing D.C. elite.
It looks like that happened to Biden. My prediction: He will not be the Democratic nominee.
Saritha Prabhu is a columnist with the Tennessean, where this column originally appeared.
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This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Joe Biden is a candidate of the oligarchy. Democratic primary voters will see through him.