As a current (reluctant) Biden support in this period before the nomination is settled, I’m between two camps on Facebook.
On one side, predictably, are my few Conservative friends I’ve retained. They are, again predictably, going on about Sanders and his Socialism. I try to distinguish for them between Social Democracy and Socialism, but they don’t hear me. They’ve likely made up their minds already, but I also know there are loads of Republican moderates out there hearing the same thing, and believing Sanders is a Socialist, which is the same as a Communist.
On the other side are my friends who are (quite rightly) concerned heavily about social justice. They love what Sanders says and want me to love it as well. They feel that we need the most progressive candidate possible to pull the country to a place where it can do the most for the people with the least, where it can protect all those that need protection, where the economic and social inequality that has been acerbated by the Trump administration can be addressed. They fervently believe that Bernie is the only way to get to where they want this country to be; they believe that Biden is only slightly less evil than Trump, given his long history. They fear a Biden administration.
I’m sitting here between these two camps, reluctantly going with Biden because the other choices I like have left the race. Most have endorsed Biden, in fact. I don’t believe Biden is perfect — far from it. But I do believe that (a) he will respect the rule of law and the authority of Congress; (b) he will attempt to restore what Obama did right and fix what Obama got wrong or didn’t complete; and (c) he will respect Science and will work to address the climate crisis. I do sincerely hope that he picks a female running mate, not a sitting Senator, and that he commits to serving only one term (a good way to address the issues, and reduce the appearance of wanting power for power’s sake).
I also strongly believe that Sanders would be most effective in the Senate, working with Warren, Booker, and Klobuchar, to bring about the progressive policy that we need. They are much more effective and persuasive there, and they can introduce (together with their colleagues in the House) and bring the progress we need to put the bills on the President’s desk.
But that doesn’t stop the voices from both sides. So, Sen. Sanders (or your supporters), here’s what I would like from you:
- A clear statement, explanation, repeated often, as to why you are not a Socialist and why what you are proposing is not Socialism. I don’t think it is, but I understand Social Democracy. Most don’t. Until you can get that clearly articulated, and get America believing that you are not a Socialist, that label will be a bludgeon used against you by the Trump campaign.
- A clear statement that you will not be an ideological purist. The Congress will quite likely pass policies that are not as progressive as the stands you are promoting in the campaign. I want assurances that you will support moving the needle in the correct direction, even if it isn’t the utopia you want right away.
- Ideally, the same pledge I want from Biden: You will be a one-term President. You are old, and the best way to address your age is to make your administration transitional. Pick a Vice President who will further your agenda, be younger than you are, and be someone you can train to replace you.
Because I want to get rid of Trump, I’ll still support you if you are the nominee. But others may not. Addressing the items above may help you get that landslide you would need to make the election unquestionable.