It is pretty obvious at this point that this year’s United States Presidential election is one of the most consequential in our nation’s history. On one hand you have a sitting President that is completely uncouth in his holding of the office; And on the other you have a doddering old man that is “profoundly decent”.
The boat for change has sailed both literally and metaphorically. The ‘Change’ candidate of 2008 in the form of Barack Obama has come and gone having served two full presidential terms. A hope for change has also passed us by in that in addition to not having a woman at the top of either ticket, our choices have been boiled down to two white men over the age of 70.
Aside from the ideology of these two men, I want to take a moment to draw your attention to the subconscious statement being made by the country as a whole. Specifically, as it relates to the Democrats and Joe Biden, he became the nominee via an unusual turn of events to say the least.
There was a rather representative sample size of politicians and business owners running for President during the Democratic primary. Of the 27 men and women from various walks of life, Joe Biden was the only life long politician running; having been in Public Office for 47 years. This in and of itself is significant in trying to understand the psyche of the nation, because while there were other career politicians running — those of note including: Senator Bernard Sanders (Primary runner up), Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Cory Booker, and Senator Kamala Harris (Democratic Vice President nominee), the one that got the nomination, was ‘Status Quo Joe’.
And isn’t he truly a status quo candidate? Biden has already said that under his administration “nothing would fundamentally change”. He has even been on the campaign trail touting the slogan “let’s get back to normal”. The problem that people tend to overlook however, is that politics as normal produces a Donald Trump like figure (i.e Ronald Reagan). So, then the question becomes, what is so good about normal? It is here that we realize the truth behind the sentiment, normalcy has nothing to do with policy and has everything to do with decorum.
President Obama was not the John F. Kennedy change agent that some thought he was going to be, but he presented well. He was a Harvard graduate, well spoken, had a certain level of respect about himself, and had swagger. If anything, Obama was America’s ‘token black friend’. Hillary Clinton in 2016 was not only a continuation of Obama era politics of which he proudly self-proclaimed, but she also would have been a continuation of the Clinton years, a legacy that has certainly stood the test of time. And while there are several factors that go into understanding her loss, it would be an act of ignorance to not give attention to the fact that she was the first woman supported by a major political party, running for the highest office in the Land.
President Trump since being in office has capitulated on nearly every establishment republican sticking point, basically doing a lion’s share of their agenda from major tax reform, to the failed attempts to repeal and replace the affordable care act, to the appointment of over 200 United States judges, including the last three Supreme Court Justices; solidifying a conservative strong hold on the nation for years to come.
Joe Biden is against some of the major policy goals of his party including The Green New Deal, Free College, Police reform, and Universal Healthcare. There are no plans for major stimulus that benefits the every day citizen in 2021 under a Joe Biden administration because as he put’s it, “when we get in, the pantry is going to be bare”.
Of the four politicians mentioned, nothing is inherently different about their ideology from a governance perspective, where they differ is in presentation. While I find it unfortunate that Andrew Yang, Julian Castro, Marianne Williamson, and Tulsi Gabbard did not make it further in their campaigns; I am more perplexed at the fact that in a fluke string of events Amy Klobuchar, Mayor Pete, Mike Bloomberg, and Elizabeth Warren all dropped out of the race in near succession.
Their dropping out cleared a way for Biden to win states like Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas and Massachusetts during the Primary. The nomination was essentially given to Biden. At that point he was a shoo-in to become the Democratic Presidential candidate.
The argument back then was that the people wanted to pick a president based on electability. The running theory was that the people wanted a person who could potentially beat Trump. So, not that any of the other candidates were bad per say, but rather, they just were not good enough. For this type of ideology to unfold within a party of power so effortlessly reveals more about how the American people think of themselves than one would probably be willing to believe.
The idea of a notably moderate politician “returning the country back to normal” sounds a lot like a liberal’s version of “Make America Great Again”. It is a more satiating concept to come to grips with than the fear of someone “new” coming in and making actual changes. As a country we are more concerned with the image of something as opposed to the practicality of it.
A perfect example of this is moments after Biden announced Senator Harris as his running mate, the headline was “Wall Street breathes a sigh of relief”. The who does not matter as long as the what means more of the same. Joe Biden is the embodiment of politics as normal. This is evident from his governing practices from his lifetime in office.
Trump appeals to the delusion of grander that our country has, that quite frankly, some Americans do not want to look at. Because in that mirrored image reflecting back at us is our greed, propensity towards nepotism, self-indulgence and overtly covert racism. President Trump is representative of our country saying the quiet part out loud.
And that’s what this race is truly about. Do we want to spend another four years as a collective saying f*ck you to the entire world, or do we just want to be able to go back to our proverbial brunch and say F*ck you under our breath? The substance is not changing, the presentation is. So, what will happen on November 4th? Well, chaos will ensue.
Both sides are already preparing their rhetoric for why they will/will not accept the election results. President Trump has already gone on record saying mail in ballots are illegitimate and that no votes should be counted past election day. Democrats are subconsciously gearing up for another 2016 upset. All the while, people are feeling the pressure with early voting numbers the highest in United States history.
Whatever happens on November 3rd, the truth of our country will be revealed on November 4th. And when that happens we will discover how “profoundly decent” we all really are.