Like it or not, while politicians may trumpet the finest members of their political tent to supporters, they’re also liable for the worst members, at least as perceived by their enemies. Just as Trump was pegged as at least passingly sympathetic to, if not outright supportive of, white nationalists with his failure to renounce their sordid lot during the Charlottesville tragedy, the same dynamics hit Biden with his political coalition. I’m afraid you can’t quite have the Bernie wing inside your tent without that rhetoric coming to signify your candidacy, at least partially, to those who view such tendencies with suspicion.
To be blunt, Miamians have heard this populist socialist rhetoric before: university-educated radicals rallying the working classes against the oligarchic upper classes, in the name of lofty and vague ideals that require a political revolution to implement, while accepting some urban violence as the cost of doing business. It’s the rhetoric of the Latin American Left—and many of the Hispanic voters of Miami wanted nothing to do with it.
In a society of pure spectacle, aesthetics determine every allegiance, whether consumer or political. The fact AOC wasn’t running in Florida (a common retort to the coattails thesis) fails to grasp that in our new media era, politics are now entirely a consumer-branding exercise, one at which politicos like AOC excel. It’s your brand on the ballot, not a concrete public-policy platform. Further proof: It wasn’t just Biden that lost in Miami, just about every major Democratic politician down the ticket lost too. Miami-Dade is now a purple county again; political signals just don’t come any clearer than this.