America’s 2020 Election: Joe Biden’s Enormous Challenge


It seems Barack Obama’s former vice president will defend the flag of the Democratic Party against Donald Trump in the November presidential election. He will have to win over supporters of Bernie Sanders who, although Sanders was obliged to drop out of the race, can claim victory on the ideological front.

The third time was the charm for Joe Biden. At 77 years old, Barack Obama’s former vice president who ran in 1988 and in 2008 has technically won the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. He will have the daunting task of facing Trump in November. With the withdrawal of Bernie Sanders on Wednesday, April 8, the final obstacle has been removed. The independent senator from Vermont struggled with a vital voting bloc that favored his rival, particularly within the African American electorate. Still, Biden has yet to answer all the questions that weigh on his ability to assemble a coalition capable of defeating at the polls an incumbent president resolutely anchored in power.

Paradoxically, the winner of the Democratic primaries has not won the war of ideas. It is, on the contrary, Sanders who has triumphed in this arena, although he lost in that of election strategy. Voters have often supported the independent senator’s proposals, notably the creation of a universal social security program run by the federal government, which has gained newfound momentum amid the coronavirus crisis. But voters have equally considered that the intransigence of so-called democratic socialism in promoting a supposed political revolution − not to mention certain of Sanders’ prior positions on the Soviet Union and its imitators − made him a less favorable nominee in the November election.

Little Choice

Biden has little choice faced with the Trump machine, as the Republican Party has elevated the neutralization of minority votes that are unfavorable to the president to an art form. He must conserve at all costs support from the moderate, suburban voters turned off by the character of the incumbent. These voters allowed the Democrats to take control of the House of Representatives in November 2018 and weigh in on the contents of the stimulus package made necessary by the current health crisis.

But the former vice president must also attract Sanders’ supporters and, particularly, the generation that was sacrificed to the subprime crisis of 2008. Young voters have massively supported the senator from Vermont, rightly refusing a status quo by which they have felt victimized for more than a decade.

Biden did not wait until Sanders’ withdrawal to address them directly. Neither has he been content to use mere words, since he already modified his platform in mid-March to propose greater access to higher education for the less privileged. On Thursday, Biden also pledged student loan forgiveness for lower-wage workers and the middle class. He has suggested expanding Medicare health coverage, too, by lowering the threshold of eligibility from 65 to 60 years of age.

This responsiveness is worth mentioning, even if Biden must, in fact, go further to conquer the reluctance on the left that his centrism feeds, especially on the burning question of profound American inequality in the face of disease.

The shock brought on by the pandemic, much like the staggering economic upheaval that it unleashed, could emerge as an opportune moment for the former vice president. It makes audible, even necessary, the audacity for which Sanders tirelessly campaigned. It is now up to Biden to demonstrate that he has been too often underestimated and that he is capable of rising to the occasion.

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About Reg Moss 114 Articles
Reg is a writer, teacher, and translator with an interest in social issues especially as pertains to education and matters of race, class, gender, immigration, etc.

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