The political question of the day? Should Vice President Joe Biden enter the 2016 POTUS foray and challenge up-till-now presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton? As we speak, the Vice President is weighing his duty to run, his desire to be President, the likelihood of a successful run (after two unsuccessful bids), and the grief still weighing heavily on his heart. Not to mention the practicality of entering the race long after the chessboard appears to be set. But I’d love to see him in the game. Really. Because his country (or at least his party) needs him. Why?
Hillary’s Heavy Baggage
I’ve never been 100 percent comfortable with Hillary Clinton as candidate. It’s not that I think she’d be a bad POTUS. And I’d certainly vote for her over any of the Republican choices, and without hesitation. But I’d like an alternative. I don’t want to see the Democrats’ chance to hold on the White House frittered away because Hillary is anointed.
I think the problems that Clinton bring to the 2016 presidential race are of two kinds. First, I think if she’s the nominee, all the Swift Boating we’ve seen in past races will pale in comparison to what will befall Secretary Clinton. They’ll be like the wasps of autumn buzzing endlessly around every bit of baggage she brings to the race. Vicious and aggressive, a blitzkrieg of attack after attack ad infinitum. This is not her fault, let me emphasize. But, as we have seen, the way she handles attacks and her critics is a problem for her.
The email “scandal” (and whether it’s a “real” scandal or another Benghazi remains to be seen) is a case in point. For weeks, she’s brushed off questions and critics, defensive and/or sarcastic (or both) in her responses, seeming to ignore the fact that this is (at least) a political issue for her. The way she’s handled this whole affair is what really worries me about Clinton. In a year that seems to scream for openness and forthrightness, Clinton is caught acting too much the politician, and not enough the passionate advocate who will change the way government will respond to the issues now killing our country. The candidate who will deal head on with climate change, gun control, poverty, institutional racism, income inequality, and our crumbling infrastructure.
Feeling the “Bern”
I love Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). My politics line up with his very closely (Okay, so I’m an admitted Leftie). He’s badgered by the “Socialist” label. But when most people think “Socialist,” they have visions of the USSR dancing in their collective heads, and not Sanders’ Socialist Democrat side of the coin–the one that lines up pretty closely with the ideology of many Americans, and is the underpinning of most Western democracies, including Canada, the U.K., Israel, Scandanavia, and much of the rest of Europe.
But, realistically, I don’t think Sanders is “electable,” at least not in the current political climate. He is not a left-wing Trump, however, as some in media have characterized him. He’s a knowledgeable, savvy, politician, successful at governance. I remember voting for a similarly progressive candidate in my very, very first election–George McGovern, who in the midst of the Vietnam war could not beat Richard Nixon in 1972. The memory still sends shivers down my back. (And I still have my “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for McGovern” lapel button!) So, as much as I’d love to #FeelTheBern (and I do), my pragmatic side says, “Not to be.”
The other candidates? Who are they, again?
So that brings us back to Biden
Yes, he’s elderly. Yes, he’s tried this before (twice). But he’s served eight years in the White House, a heartbeat away from the very successful presidency of President Barak Obama. Yes, Biden speaks his mind, gaffes galore, but this year–2015–that might not matter very much. It makes him “real” and much more of a regular guy than a veteran politician. But it gives him the air of authenticity. Bernie has it; so does this political iteration of “The Donald.” Joe Biden is middle class from a working class family. He’s a liberal with a track record of reaching across the aisle. As he agonizes over the decision, he more and more might be viewed as the war-weary, reluctant leader, stepping up to the role one last time to fix what ails us.
As I write this, Biden is scheduled to meet with the national union leadership, and the “Draft Biden” movement is now in nearly all 50 states. Earlier this week, he met with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the bastion of Democrats progressive wing. Yet, we still don’t know. Anything for sure.
“If I were to announce to run I have to be able to commit to all of you that I would be able to give it my whole heart and my whole soul and right now, both are pretty well banged up,” he said yesterday in a DNC conference call. He added that he must decide whether he still has the “emotional fuel” to mount a successful challenge.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=0812976215,1938067967]