The left’s animosity toward Biden derives in part from a feeling that the Democratic Party is at a crossroads, that the answer to Donald Trump isn’t a restoration of the old order but a brash, new, left-wing politics. In fact, about half of registered Democrats identify as moderate or conservative, suggesting that Biden, far from being out of step with the party’s base, is actually its best representative. But groups like Justice Democrats, the Working Families Party, Data for Progress, and others, are hoping to seize the moment to change the conversation, either by supporting candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, or pushing the centrists further to the left. Hence the all-out, shock-and-awe style blitzkrieg. “Whoever you will support, if it is not Biden, Biden is an existential threat to your candidate. So you have to fuck him up, and he’s just the most vulnerable to attack for the most shitty stuff, ” said progressive activist Sean McElwee, a co-founder of Data for Progress. “It’s going to be a guerrilla war of placing the shittiest issues and getting the oppo out there.”
According to sources I spoke to across the progressive-activist world, the general strategy is to mobilize the grassroots to destroy Biden’s greatest asset—his supposed electability—by making him radioactive on the left. The first step, quite literally, is to repeat his political record over and over again. In a single breath, Maurice Mitchell, the national director of the Working Families Party, rattled off Biden’s sins: his sexist interrogation of Anita Hill; his lead role in passing the 1994 crime bill that put mass incarceration on steroids; and his longtime cozy relationship with credit-card companies, which he cemented in 2005 with a vote against bankruptcy-protection reforms.