Biden: Democratic convention is "necessary," but not necessarily IRL

Does anyone still believe that we will pack 40,000 people into arenas in August just to hold four-day rallies for major-party nominees? As Joe Biden himself might say — Come on, man. Biden doesn’t quite dispense with the idea of holding a traditional Democratic nominating convention in Milwaukee, but he told George Stephanopoulos yesterday on ABC’s This Week that the party needs to “follow the science.”

In other words, start ramping up the bandwidth — and someone get Uncle Joe a proper backdrop, too:


STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, sir, let — I want to turn to some politics before we go. As you know, Wisconsin now having its primary on Tuesday, your opponent Sanders said that should be put off and the governor now joining that chorus as well. But it looks like it’s going to happen. Is that wise?

BIDEN: Well, look, I think they should follow the science, I — and, you know, what I’ve been hearing, I have been following it like you have, like everybody has, watching the court action, it’s still in court now. And — but I think whatever — whatever the science says is what we should do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And does that hold for the convention as well? If — are you open to the idea that — it just may not be possible to do the convention in August?

BIDEN: Well, we’re going to have to do a convention, may have to do a virtual convention. I know — I think we should be thinking about that right now. The idea of holding a convention is going to be necessary, but we may not be able to put 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 people in one place and that’s very possible. Again, let’s see where it is. What we do between now and then is going to dictate a lot of that as well. But my point is that I think you just got to follow the science. Listen to the experts. Listen to the Faucis of the world. And if that’s the case, it’s the case.

But we cannot let this — we’ve never allowed any crisis from a Civil War straight through to a pandemic in ‘17, all the way around, in ’16, we have never, never let our democracy take second fiddle, we can both have a democracy and elections and at the same time protect the public health. But I think it’s time we start thinking about how we’re going to hold elections, whether we’re going to have to spend a lot of time figuring whether we do — is it going to mostly be by mail, which is not the preferred route for everyone — how are we going to do that? How are we going to make it available to everybody?

If the criterion is to “listen to the Faucis of the world,” we won’t even hold a town hall meeting the rest of the year. The Faucis of the world, God bless ’em (as Joe might also say), aren’t in the business of risk management. They are in the business of risk containment, in which no excess risk is worth it. Politicians are in the business of risk management, and it is this reality that we will have to embrace if we ever want to reopen America for business again.

The risk of reopening commerce has competing risks of not reopening commerce, which eventually will outweigh the coronavirus risk. That will force politicians to weigh risk management policies, but eventually they will have to assume that risk to prevent a greater collapse. That day might be fast approaching, and even “the Faucis of the world” know it. Dr. Anthony Fauci himself has acknowledged as much, reminding the press that Donald Trump has more responsibilities to the country than just the pandemic.

The question is: what’s the competing risk of not holding the conventions? The parties will have their nominees months ahead of them. With the series of nominating conventions disrupted, there isn’t any real or critical value to the delegates meeting in person. The only real risk is not having four days of speeches in front of raucous crowds. Is that value worth the risk of fueling another outbreak of coronavirus before a vaccine or effective cure has been established? Naah.

Without one or both of those, neither party will have a traditional convention this year. And one has to wonder whether this is a tradition that might not be worth killing off anyway.