Trump’s erratic recent performances are perhaps one reason for the Biden campaign’s relative silence: when an incumbent President is making a sequence of unforced errors, why try and steal the limelight from him? But the protests also present a problem for Biden: how can he address the widespread social unrest in a way that doesn’t ostracize a key set of voters he’ll need in November? Might standing up to the young people in the streets present Biden with a Sister Souljah moment?
Joe Biden has expressed support for changing the names of military bases that honor Confederate generals, and has said that the Philadelphia government was right to remove a statue of Mayor Frank Rizzo, a former cop who had a torrid record with African Americans during his tenure. But Biden has yet to strongly criticize hauling down statues of supposedly complicated historical figures like…Abraham Lincoln. This sets him aside from Emmanuel Macron of France, who said the ‘Republic won’t erase any name from its history’. Presumably, the Biden campaign is terrified that criticizing the protests could make black voters stay home in November, despite conflicting polls about the removal of statues. But what about the other votes that count? What do working-class voters in swing states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin think about civic unrest? How do they feel about the potential consignment of George Washington to the trashcan of history?