Biden and the Mythical Middle

Oh, I’ll vote for him if I have to next November. That’s not the issue. But as I struggle to wrap my head around the notion of Biden as the Democratic nominee–a serial loser in presidential campaigns who seems much older than his 77 years, whose scandalous son has already been weaponized against him, a villain of sorts to the MeToo movement (I know he’s done good stuff, but I am old enough to remember Anita Hill), a guy who, however popular he is with older black voters, can hardly be expected to galvanize young people of any color–what baffles me the most is the idea that his supposed “moderation” is a tactical choice. First, the only radical in the campaign is Trump. Bernie and Elizabeth Warren are just FDR Democrats.

Second, while I understand that there is nostalgia for the good old days of the Cold War consensus, back before people of color and gays and women and environmentalists and woke young people started making so much noise, I can’t see what that has to do with the Democrats, who are the party of women and people of color and gays and environmentalists and woke young people today. If you think about it, that isn’t nostalgia for a lost consensus–it’s Trumpism. And the Trumpists already have their candidate.

We live in a polarized country, which means that it no longer has a middle. If you try to stake out a position in that space, your position is by definition nowhere. The only metaphor I can think of is continental drift. Once upon a time, Africa and South America were the same place, but now they are an ocean apart. Try to stake out a place in the middle and not only will you be thousands of miles away from any of your potential constituents on either continent, you’ll drown.

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