Vice President Joe Biden

What Should Joe Biden Do?

Vice President Joe Biden has been contemplating a late run in the 2016 presidential race, and he should. Had it not been for his son, Beau’s, untimely illness and death, Biden certainly would have thrown his hat into the ring by now. In his absence from the race it has pretty much been proven that Hillary Clinton is not on her way to a coronation and there appears to be room for Biden in the Democratic contest.

Some people have suggested that there is little contrast between Clinton and Biden. But there is. If there were not, MSNBC’s Willy Geist would not be able to point out that Unions and African Americans are forestalling their decision until they know what Biden decides. The contrast is that Biden does not have emails and Benghazi hanging over his head. Clinton’s baggage is bringing doubts to the mainstream that she will be electable in the general election. Bernie Sanders’ current leads in the polling in New Hampshire and Iowa are eroding the hopes that she will even be the party’s nominee.

The Sanders surge, by the way, has been attributed in part to the belief that voters are searching for an alternative to Clinton. This take on the polling neglects the fact the Sanders’ supporters are backing him because of the issues he is campaigning on and the way is going about it. The pundits are oblivious to the fact that Sanders, for many people, is the first political candidate for any office that they feel they can back 100%. The reasons they feel this way are as follows:

  • His platform is our platform. We want politicians to work for us, not the billionaire class. We don’t want to rob the wealthy; we just want to reap the benefits of our labor. We see Bernie’s revolution as a way to finally get that to happen.
  • Bernie is not taking any large donations from billionaires or corporations, so when he says that he will take the money out of politics and reverse “Citizen’s United” we believe that he will try. We do no doubt his honesty.
  • Bernie is not campaigning negatively. His campaign is saving a lot of the money we contributed to his campaign by not running negative ads. He is keeping the discourse civil, which is refreshing to say the least. Furthermore, it makes it difficult for anyone else to attack him, because it does nothing but hurt them when they do. Attacking Sanders back-fired on Hillary Clinton’s super-pac, Correct the Record, the same way it did against his 1996 Congressional opponent, Susan Sweetser.

To get back to Biden…if he were to decide to run he would not hurt, but rather help the Sanders campaign. As the current polls demonstrate, Biden would draw support from Clinton backers, not from Sanders’. By siphoning that support away from Clinton, Biden will ease the burden on the Sanders campaign to overtake the one challenge he has faced so far. Sanders supporters will not abandon him for Biden. There is too much contrast between the two for that to happen. Biden, like Clinton voted for the authorization of the Iraq war-something that still stirs passion in the Democratic base. Biden, like Clinton will undoubtedly accept large donations. Bernie’s refusal to take such donation is the corner stone to his campaign and the main reason that we trust him. And then there is the “Biden Crime Bill”.

The 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which Biden authored and Hillary Clinton’s husband signed into law, according to the Daily Beast, has “contributed to the mass incarceration problem that has made America the most imprisoned citizenry in the Western world.” The Daily Beast also points out the overcrowded prisons and strict sentencing, which the “Biden Bill” caused, are among the things that the activist group Black Lives Matters is railing against. If African Americans want to vote in their best interest then they really need to take a hard look at Sanders. I think they will. I believe that ultimately they will reject both Biden and Hillary as their candidate.

If I were advising Joe Biden on whether or not he should run, I would tell him that when the time came to announce his decision he should stand at the podium and proclaim that he “feels the Bern” and therefore cannot run for president. He should further tell those who would support him that they should put that support behind the only viable choice: Bernie Sanders.

A random picture of the woman who will not permit HRC from being debated fairly in front of the American people.

Why We Need More Democratic Debates

When delegates at the New Hampshire Democratic Convention started chanting “more debates” during Debbie Wasserman Shultz’s address, she responded by shouting back, “You know better than anyone that this race can’t be won from a stage or through a television screen. You want to see these candidates in your living rooms, in coffee shops, and at forums just like the one we’re having here today.” But she knows that is not true and so do we. We all know who the current Republican front-runner is and we know he did not get there by going door-to-door canvassing neighborhoods in New Hampshire.

Donald Trump rose to dominance in the Republican primary cycle as a result of 24/7 free media coverage generated by the two Republican debates that have been held to date. In other words, the same way he made his massive name recognition-through the television screen. Wasserman Shultz understands that anything can happen at a debate and the mainstream media can latch on to anything and give it legs, just as they have with Trump. If we had a Democratic debate now someone other than Hillary Clinton might become the story. The voters might find out that Martin O’Malley thinks quickly on his feet or that Bernie Sanders can redirect almost any question or comment back to one of the issues in his massive agenda. That might result in someone other than Clinton clinching the party’s nomination. And we would not want that.

As poll after poll is released and more and more emphasis is put on the national poll results, we come to realize that the lag time on the commencement of the debates keeps Clinton at the top of those polls, thus making her appear to be the most viable general election candidate. That is what the pundits on the television screen are saying. They say that is does not matter if Bernie Sanders is leading in New Hampshire and Iowa as long as Hillary Clinton still doubles him in the national polls. I know that that is what they are saying because, like most Americans, I spend lot of time with my television screen.

Since no one can go door-to-door in all 50 states how can the lesser-known candidates introduce themselves to voters in Texas, California, Alaska and Arizona? Wasserman Shultz knows that they cannot. And that is how she wants it because she is stacking the deck in Clinton’s favor, as if her past roles as First Lady and Secretary of State were not enough of a name recognition advantage.

We need more debates because primary voters have a right to be informed. We need more debates so that general election voters have an opportunity to contrast a party that focuses on issues with the one that prefers name calling, insults, racism, blame and lies. Besides, I would think that by now there are a lot of Republicans willing to consider a Democrat to what is being offered to them in their own party.

The Clinton crowd outflanking the Sanders supporters (photo by Marc Brousseau)

A Delegate’s Perspective of the New Hampshire Democratic Convention: Why Bernie Sanders is the Only One

I just got back from the New Hampshire Democratic Convention. Rest assured if nothing else, Bernie Sanders is driving the 2016 Democratic platform. It was evident in Debbie Wasserman Shultz’s address as well as Hillary Clinton’s. Clinton gave an excellent speech, and already the media is saying it was her best performance so far of this campaign. I think that is because this was the largest and most enthusiastic audience she has faced so far. I think that that is probably because it consisted of mostly Sanders supporters. Bernie was a rock star. I did not think that it was possible for me to love him more, but after today I do.

Of course the day started with a word from Wasserman Shultz, the Democratic chair, who was shouted down by O’Malley and Sanders supporters pleading for more debates. “What’s more important, drawing a contrast with Republicans, or arguing about debates?” She questioned. We responded with more shouts. While the Republicans are debating and dominating the media coverage, candidates Like O’Malley, Sanders, Chaffee and Webb, who do not have the name recognition that having been First Lady and Secretary of State has given Clinton, go without the exposure that would introduce them to the voters.

Some would argue that Bernie Sanders has gained enough traction that he, at least, has gotten his name out there. After all, this week alone, he gave a ground-breaking speech at Liberty University, appeared on several talk shows, including The Late Show with Steven Colbert, and he appeared on the cover of Time. And yet, when polled, 50% of South Carolinian Democrats say they do not know enough about Sanders. So, why does Wasserman Shultz insist on limiting the debates? A lot of people think that it is because she and the Democratic establishment favor Clinton as the nominee.

The Sanders supporters in the crowd seemed to be out flanked by the Clinton staff. They had the largest faction outside the stadium. There were more of them handing out rally signs than any other campaign, and when she appeared at the podium they made a lot of noise. She addressed the crowd mid-day, gave a lengthy, rousing speech. She appeared presidential and she put forth many initiatives that she would take up as president. But what occurred to me while she spoke was that I had heard a lot of what she was saying from Bernie Sanders first.

For example, Clinton spoke about her New College Compact, and sure, she rolled that out earlier this summer. But, Bernie Sanders was the first to bring the subject of college affordability to the fore. She also brought up the concept of paid family leave, which of course is one of Sanders Scandinavia-inspired initiatives. And finally she said that as president she would over-turn “Citizens United”, the Supreme Court decision that gave billionaires and corporations unlimited financial influence over our elections. It is doubtful that she would be making this claim if it were not for Sanders prominence in this cycle. It is difficult to believe that someone who is benefitting from that decision by accepting support from large super-pacs would follow through with that promise, however.

After Clinton spoke, the contingent who had rallied outside the venue, passed out rally signs to everyone who would accept one, and cheered enthusiastically while she spoke headed for the door. What was left was a larger contingent who now held up their “Bernie” signs unobstructed. By my estimation about 20% of the crowd had dissipated.

Martin O’Malley was the next candidate to speak. O’Malley, the driving force behind the cry for additional debates, also appeared presidential. It was easy to see how earlier, more frequent debates would bolster his campaign. His best line was, in fact, “Over the last four weeks, we have witnessed not one, but two, unanswered rounds of nationally televised Republican presidential debates led by that racist, anti-immigrant, carnival barker, Donald Trump.”

Between the candidates appearances there were presentations by several local and state figures. One of them was Senator Jeanne Shaheen. At one point she mentioned our anticipation of hearing the remaining candidates to which we responded with chants of “Bernie, Bernie”. Shaheen in turn replied to us that although she loves Bernie and O’Malley “and the other candidates” she, of course, is supporting Hillary Clinton.  It has not escaped some of us that she came out pretty early in her endorsement of Clinton. She did it even though several months still remain before the first Democratic debate. And yet we are to believe that the party establishment, of which she is a part, is not trying to influence this primary season in any one particular candidate’s direction.

Finally, the moment that most of us who still remained had been waiting for arrived and Senator Sanders came to the podium to chants of his name. As I listen to the address that by this time I pretty much know by heart, something stirred in deep down inside of me. While Bernie spoke again about taking on the special interest groups, banks and corporations, the “abysmal” voter turnout during the mid-term elections, and the “grotesque” level of income inequality, it occurred to me again that he is the only possible candidate that I can vote for.

Any one of the candidates I saw today could, if elected, tackle the long list of Bernie’s initiatives that the party appears to be adopting, but there are a few things that separate him from all the candidates in either party. Bernie Sanders is not influenced by big money donations. That is important because we can believe him when he tells us what he intends to do. We know that if he is elected, he will not owe favors to anyone which, as Donald Trump so brazenly pointed out in the first Republican debate, is the way things currently work. We also know that Sanders will not take part in negative campaigning.

One may ask, as some already have, “How can Bernie stand up to the Republican machine without negative campaigning?” It is easy, once you get to see how it is done. Despite multiple attempts by the mainstream media to coerce Sanders into saying something negative about Hillary Clinton, Sanders has resisted. The result has been that Clinton, in turn, cannot say anything negative about Sanders. If she does she is doomed and she knows it.   It has been up to her surrogates and super-pacs to go on the attack. That is what happened last week when a Clinton affiliated Pac send out an email attacking Sanders. He responded by emailing his supporters pointing out that that attack was a prime example of what we are fighting against. He took the issue straight to the people that the attack was designed to sway. He told us his side, debunked what was said, and asked us for a three dollar donation to help keep our political revolution going. And within 48 hours his campaign raised $1.2 million.

Bernie also demonstrated in his email that big money interests are scared of the revolution that he and we, his supporters, are waging. He says that this attack is evidence of that. Stopping the influence that the powerful, wealthy corporations have on our politics, government and economy has got to be our next number one priority. If we do not stop this influence then our democracy will be destroyed and there will be no avenue for all the other goals to be achieved.