Has Biden Really Embraced the Left?
Dave Weigel at WaPo writes:
The last time Joe Biden appeared on a presidential ticket, the Democratic Party’s platform contained no mention of marijuana. Its health-care language focused on the Affordable Care Act, suggesting that the fight for universal coverage was pretty much won. It promised to “fight inequalities in our criminal justice system,” without spelling out how, and urged that when the death penalty is used, it should “not be arbitrary.”
Biden is happily inheriting a party that has moved to the left, without interruption, since he left the vice presidency. The report this week from his Unity Task Force, the product of a deal between the nominee and primary runner-up Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), found Biden’s team inching a little further in that direction — cautious, careful with its wording, but dramatically different from the politics that defined much of Biden’s career.
“I think the compromise that they came up with, if implemented, will make Biden the most progressive president since FDR,” Sanders said in a Wednesday night interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.
Republicans quickly repurposed Sanders’s answer to describe Biden as a catspaw for the country’s resurgent socialist movements. “This is surrendering to the socialists,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a Thursday interview on Fox News. The Republican National Committee highlighted sentences taken directly from some of Sanders’s campaign white papers to accuse Biden of “plagiarism,” a charge that evoked his botched 1988 presidential campaign, if not quite describing a task force designed to merge platforms.
But the basic Republican critique was right. Biden, seen by voters as the most moderate of their two dozen or so options in the primary, has welcomed a shift away from the careful politics Democrats deployed, for decades, to mollify suburban voters. Under his proposals, millions of voters are offered a new government health-care plan, and millions more are offered federal housing and housing assistance. Tax cuts, emphasized for years to convince swing voters, aren’t prioritized.
“In 2008, one of the things we had to constantly fight in places like the I-4 corridor was taxes,” said Steve Schale, an Obama-Biden campaign veteran who’s now a strategist for the pro-Biden super PAC Unite the Country, referring to a vote-rich stretch of Florida cities and suburbs. “I bet you we ran more ads about Barack Obama cutting middle-class taxes than anything. We had to win that fight. Our ad strategy was built around keeping that fight neutral.”
Tough-on-crime politicking has been de-emphasized, too. The party’s 2012 platform did not mention the “war on drugs.” The 2016 platform, reshaped by Sanders delegates, condemned the drug war for the “imprisonment of millions of Americans, disproportionately people of color.” The task force’s paper, with Biden’s name at the top, pledges to “end the failed ‘War on Drugs’ ” entirely.
Weigel is right about FNC though. They are
crafting the narrative reporting that AOC and Bernie, the socialists, are taking over Democratic Establishment, and it is showing up in other Red State.com outlets. I guess the new norm is the “Progressive Establishment.” I wish that were true. I’m not fooled by any of this and neither are most progressives.
Every single day for the past 21 years… https://t.co/tFw6Jla0vw
— Warren Gunnels (@GunnelsWarren) July 10, 2020
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