On Friday, during an online speech he gave to the National Education Association, Joe Biden committed what some on the left consider an unforgivable sin. He reminded everyone that he’s spent his career in Congress finding ways to work with people on both sides of the aisle. “’I’ve been able to bring Democrats and Republicans together in the United States Congress to pass big things, to deal with big issues,” Biden said. He then capped off that moment of inclusiveness by saying, “Compromise is not a dirty word.”
Well, that’s not what the more progressive branch of the Democratic Party is shopping for these days. That’s particularly true of the supporters of Bernie Sanders, who are still smarting from the Vermont Senator’s back-to-back losses in presidential primary races. Their reaction to Joe’s speech was far from enthusiastic, to say the least. (The Hill)
“Biden is transparently taking a bet to win over a group of anti-Trump Republicans but at the expense of what? Potentially losing some of the largest movements in history?” said progressive activist Nomiki Konst, who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Democratic presidential primary.
She and other progressives also warn it could cost Biden by reducing voter enthusiasm on the left in November.
“His excitement is extremely low and that should always be alarming for candidates. It’s the Hillary Clinton strategy all over again,” she said.
This is yet another example of the hole that Joe Biden dug for himself during the primary. He’s embraced nearly every far-left fantasy of the progressive movement in an effort to win over Sanders’ supporters and try to build some enthusiasm among those who supported Elizabeth Warren and the rest of the socialist crowd. But now the general election is gearing up and he needs to not only generate some excitement with minority voters, but also win back the persuadable moderates who migrated over to Trump’s camp in 2016.
That’s not a balancing act. It’s a contradiction in terms. As any successful politician will tell you, no one can be all things to all people, though most of them try to manage the feat. The problem for Biden is that there are simply too many things from the primary race lurking in his record. At various points, he has endorsed vast expansions to Medicaid, gun bans, abortion on demand and more. Back in April, a coalition of progressive youth groups issued a list of demands for Joe Biden if he wanted their support and he quickly toed the line.
The groups call on Biden to endorse policy initiatives like “Medicare for All,” canceling all student debt, taxing wealth and the Green New Deal framework of a fully clean energy economy by 2030. They make process demands like eliminating the legislative filibuster and adding seats to the Supreme Court. And they include personnel wishes like rejecting Wall Street or other corporate executives for important roles and picking a Homeland Security chief committed to “dismantling ICE and CBP as we know them,” referring to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.
Does any of that sound like “compromise” across the aisle to you? Sooner or later Biden is going to face a reckoning, assuming he can stay awake long enough to address his potential supporters. And that laundry list of promises will be up for renewed scrutiny. The same concerns can’t be applied to his opponent. Say what you will about Donald Trump, but he’s been consistent from day one until the present. And nobody expects him to suddenly turn over a new leaf between now and November.