Joe Biden is this election cycle’s safe option, but to undo the damage brought by Donald Trump, America needs a candidate who’s more than just safe.
Biden is a former vice president, senator for 36 years, presidential candidate twice before, politically moderate, white and a man; Uncle Joe is swing voters’ catnip.
So it was no surprise Biden was the clear frontrunner among Democrats when he first announced his candidacy.
They’re afraid what four more years of Trump could mean for the country, they’re afraid a progessive candidate could scare off voters, so they need a milquetoast, recognizable face to represent the party to reclaim the White House and voters they lost in 2016.
But the 77-year-old former senator from Delaware has clearly lost a step or two since his days as vice president.
Biden no longer represents progressive change like he did as Barack Obama’s running mate. Instead, he stands closer to the middle compared to other Democrats running. It’s his brand.
“Nothing will fundamentally change,” Biden said about his term as president if elected to donors at a fundraising event in New York City on June 18.
Biden’s stances are no doubt progressive. He’s for raising the federal minimum wage to $15, eliminating private prisons, starting a voluntary buyback program on assault weapons and allowing a path to citizenship for children brought into the U.S. by their parents through illegal border crossings. But if you compare his positions to his opponents’ — Medicare for all, tuition-free college — they’re decidedly more center-leaning.
Since his campaign’s announcement, it never felt like Biden was pitching a future. It felt instead like he’s pitching a reset button to December 2016. It’s hard to get excited about that while other candidates propose swaths of changes and reforms.
While Biden may seem like a safe option at first, he has a problematic history too.
Biden opposed school busing for desegregation in the ’70s, opposed gay rights, supported the Iraq War, and in many ways, his long time in public office haunts Biden. While Biden’s stances on many of his positions he took early in his career have changed, they can still be used against him.
Biden’s early success in the polls hasn’t followed him since he’s reintroduced himself to voters. He’s no longer the clear-cut frontrunner, and he’s losing ground in Iowa.
The latest Monmouth University poll among likely voters for the Iowa caucuses has Biden trailing in second with 19%.
Throughout this election cycle, there has been a clear emphasis set on a candidate’s ability to beat Trump. But fixating on a candidate’s electability can be dangerous too, because at the end of the day, beating Trump shouldn’t be the end goal. The goal should be to elect a president with a clear plan for a future that motivates and inspires Americans.