Campus Reform went to the theater where the Democratic debate took place and asked a bunch of Democrats what they would consider Joe Biden’s major accomplishments. “I don’t know of a specific accomplishment of his,” one woman respondent tells Cabot Phillips early on, and it doesn’t get much better from there.
To be fair, not all of the people featured here were Biden supporters. Quite a few were holding signs for some of the other candidates, so it makes sense they wouldn’t necessarily be ready with an answer about why someone should, effectively, support Biden.
Still, there are a few Biden supporters in the group and their answers are probably exactly what you would guess, i.e. he’s a decent guy and he served with President Obama “with distinction” whatever that means. One guy wearing a Biden 2020 T-shirt does cite the health care overhaul, i.e. Obamacare, as something Biden was responsible for. That seems like a bit of a stretch but it’s the closest anyone gets to an actual policy with some connection to Biden.
The respondents do a bit better when describing their top issues for 2020. Some say climate change, some health care. But beating Trump seems equally important to this group.
I’ve become fairly cynical about policy issues as they relate to elections. My general take is that policy issues exist as ex post facto points which voters latch onto after they’ve already decided they support someone. That’s not true for everyone of course, but I think it’s true of a majority of people who probably couldn’t outline three policies held by their favorite candidate.
Politics is a sport. As a sport, people choose their team, not because of the coach’s game plan but because they have some family connection or history with a place or they like the QB’s looks or his manner. And then, once they become invested in the team’s image and history, they pick up the names of the current players and the coaches and care about the strategy a bit (or a lot). Some people become ultra fans, listening to sports talk radio and ESPN all day to get the latest news. But all of that comes after you’ve committed to rooting for your team.
And often along with that comes the negative feelings for that team you hate. The one that wins but doesn’t ever deserve it. The one that cheats. The one only bad people could possibly root for. Yes, I mean the Raiders. Or the Patriots. Or the Yankees. Or Arsenal FC. Or whoever the appropriate villain is that stands between your team and victory.
All that to say, the policy positions of Democratic politicians, most of whom don’t have any real shot at the White House, are about as important as off-season training schedules of teams that never make the playoffs. Biden does actually have a shot but if so it won’t be because of the specifics of his legislative record, it’ll be because people decide they like him personally. And once they like him, some of them will defend what he’s saying even if it changes every few months, or days.
I really think that’s mostly what you’re seeing in this clip below and, keep in mind, these are people who showed up at a debate and therefore probably care about this more than many Americans do.