There’s a burrito joint around the corner from our house that we order from at least once a week. It’s a step up from Taco Bell in both quality and price, though not quite what one would expect from a SoCal Mexican restaurant. It’s good. Not bad, not great. Just good. And convenient. And easy. And predictable. One could say based on frequency that it’s our favorite, or shall we call it… the “frontrunner” of our family’s restaurant choices, but not because we actually like it very much. It’s just the most convenient option that everyone in our family generally likes.
That seems to be how most Democrats who support former Vice President Joe Biden’s candidacy for president feel about the “frontrunner.” He’s safe. He’s convenient. He’s the best option to fill a need. But just as nobody in my family every actually craves our weekly choice for Mexican takeout, so too do very few Democrats seem to be passionate about Joe Biden.
The reason for this is not based on presence of merits but lack of demerits. Many Democrats don’t want to go into the general election with a socialist candidate promising to make private health insurance illegal. Many Democrats don’t want to face President Trump with a candidate whose record as District Attorney is spotted with scandals while having a personality that makes Hillary Clinton seem appealing. A good number of Democrats aren’t excited about a candidate who quotes the Bible while reminding people of Alfred E. Neuman. And practically no Democrats want the President to go head-to-head against someone who is threatening to confiscate firearms (even if deep down most of them want it to happen).
Joe Biden is none of these things, and that’s his biggest appeal to Democrats. In fact, his only redeeming quality for most Democrats, including his supporters, is that he’s the closest thing to bringing back portions of the Obama era. Electability is Biden’s singular pitch for the nomination. His message is basically, “I’m not crazy like the rest of the field.”
But Biden will not be the nominee. The last time Democrats put forth a nominee with such a lack of positives was Walter Mondale, also a former Vice President. who managed to win his home state and nothing else in 1984. They’re unlikely to do it again this time, polls be damned.
Pete Buttigieg is a fundraising machine who has been quietly pulling donors from Biden as he tries to establish himself as the other less-crazy candidate. But he’s not alone. Andrew Yang has seen a surge in some polls and outside of his unique universal basic income proposal, his other stances are moderate compared to the competition. Then, there’s Tom Steyer who is actually quite radical but has seen his numbers rising thanks in part to playing calm and controlled. Spending a lot of his own money hasn’t hurt him, either.
We can’t forget Hillary Clinton and Michael Bloomberg, neither of whom have entered the race but both have indicated they would if a path opened up. If Biden keeps falling and none of the other moderates are able to step up, expect Clinton or Bloomberg to throw their name in the hat late so they can swoop in and save the day.
If I were forced to make a prediction, I’d say none of them will get the nomination. If ever there was a year for a radical to emerge victorious, this is it. Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders are #1 and #2 on my depth chart of likely Democratic nominees simply because I can’t see any of the moderates pulling away. When it comes down too it, the moderates will split their votes between many more candidates than the two radical progressives. Since Biden hasn’t stepped up his game and other moderates are still far behind, I believe it will come down to the hyper-leftists.
And it’s all Joe Biden’s fault. All he had to do was run a decent campaign and the nomination was his. There are still plenty of people who think he should have run in 2016. But he has failed to run a decent campaign. He’s had his gaffes, as expected, but he’s failed to inspire the masses. He may have the quantity of supporters to keep him pacing with or above the two radicals, but the quality of his support is a joke. He’s a safe burrito joint around the corner, and that’s not enough to drive supporters to act aggressively through the primaries.
The Democratic nomination was Joe Biden’s to lose, and he’s doing a fabulous job of losing it. Poll numbers are misleading because there’s just no passion for him, even among his supporters. Being the “safe” choice won’t be enough.
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