Joe Biden’s Ability To Beat Trump Is Only The SECOND Most Important Aspect Of His Candidacy

Photo by Srikanta H. U on Unsplash

Most discussions surrounding Joe Biden’s candidacy center on his having the best chance of beating Trump. This is striking to me because it glosses over the most salient feature of his candidacy: The fact that Biden is the person best equipped to clean up the mess created by Donald Trump.

And what a mess it is. In a little over three years Trump has:

-weakened Americans’ trust in the press

-cast suspicion on the FBI

-turned the Justice Department into his own personal law firm, led by managing partner William Barr

-eviscerated Congress’s constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the executive branch

-exacted grave damage on America’s relationships with critical allies like Germany and Great Britain

-undermined the strongest and most important strategic alliance in world history (NATO), to the delight of our mortal enemy Russia

-and coddled the world’s most nefarious dictators (Putin, Kim Jong Un, Duterte, Erdogan, el-Sisi…it’s a long list and I don’t have the space.)

Righting the ship of America after this storm Trump has wrought will be enormously difficult. But Joe Biden is the person best-suited for the job. Why? Because he is the polar opposite of Trump in the three critical areas where Trump has plunged America into an existential abyss: competence, morality and civility.

Competence: We’ve learned how incompetent Trump was as a businessman, but his shortcomings there pale in comparison to his abject failures in the governing sphere. Time and again he has demonstrated his total ignorance of virtually every area of government policy. He’s either incapable or unwilling to learn the issues central to performing his job.

He has shown total contempt for our government by running it like his mom and pop real estate operation, i.e., relying on a handful of third rate sycophants to run the behemoth that is our federal government.

Most insulting to every American taxpayer should be Trump’s appointing his thirty-something son-in-law Jared Kushner to run point on everything from Middle East peace (are you kidding me?) to the opioid crisis. His cabinet departments and agencies run on skeleton staffs with many led by weak acting secretaries like Chad Wolf at Homeland Security.

He creates foreign policy on the fly with a decision-making apparatus that makes three ten-year-old boys deciding tree-house rules seem like the 1990s virtuoso trio of George H.W. Bush, James Baker and Brent Scowcroft.

And Biden? He’s steeped in all manner of policy gained from serving thirty-six years in the Senate and eight as vice president. Among numerous legislative accomplishments, he pushed through the Violence Against Women Act and the Federal Assault Weapons Ban.

As vice president he played a central role in shepherding the Affordable Care Act through Congress as well as almost singlehandedly preventing more than one government shutdown and a debt default through his behind the scenes negotiations with Republican leaders on the Hill. He knows, and CARES about, how government works. Just as important, he will appoint seasoned, cream-of-the-crop public servants to all levels of the executive branch.

And Bernie Sanders? Sure, he has a solid grasp of domestic policy. But our current crisis of weakened values, degraded norms, crippling partisanship, frayed relationships with foreign partners, climate change, inequality, etc., requires a seasoned, respected statesman like Biden, not a cantankerous curmudgeon with no executive experience.

Morality: While I don’t know much about Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce or Benjamin Harrison, I find it hard to believe that they, or any of the forty-three other people who have served as president, were less moral than Donald Trump.

Have other presidents lied repeatedly while in office? Absolutely. Have others been corrupt? Yes. Have some engaged in tawdry affairs and associated with the dregs of society? Sure.

But no president has ever reached the Everest-level heights that Trump has in all three of those areas. His documented lies in office now approach 17,000, he routinely uses his office to make money off the presidency and he swims in a cesspool of muck with the likes of porn stars and that paragon of morality The National Enquirer.

Not to mention his racist rants about immigrants, his separation policy at the border and his stated belief that some neo-Nazis are very fine people.

But millions of Americans don’t care that Trump is an immoral lout. They just want him to keep their taxes low and get tough on immigrants.

So why should Americans be concerned with Trump’s low character? Because the foundation of America, unlike any country on earth, is built on principles.

You prick a French hand and French blood oozes out. Prick a Russian and you get Russian blood. Prick an American and you don’t get American blood. You get blood that represents respect for freedom. And equality. And decency. Trump’s normalizing of lying, cheating and greed threatens the foundation that holds up the building we call America.

And Biden? I worked in Washington, D.C., from 1987 to 2000, and here is what I learned about Joe Biden the human being: He was a squeaky clean husband and an involved dad. No financial scandals, either. Notwithstanding his grumpy, disagreeable nature, Bernie is also, by all accounts, a person of morals and integrity so Biden doesn’t gain an advantage on him here.

Civility: To be fair, the incivility of our politics predates Trump. It started with Newt Gingrich’s bomb-throwing in the late 1980s and has deteriorated every year since. Has Trump made it infinitely worse? Yes. Bigly.

His juvenile name-calling, hysterical rallies, strongman tactics and his total takeover of Fox News have driven our politics into an ever-deepening ditch. The result is near-total government paralysis.

Democrats and Republicans rarely talk to each other in Washington. The powers that be can barely agree on funding the government nowadays, much less hammer out a comprehensive immigration strategy or even unite on a response to the coronavirus pandemic.

And Biden? As I write this, America’s population is 329,356,599. If one were to rank every one of those Americans in order of who is best-suited to restore civility to our national politics, Joe Biden would be number one on that list. Why is that?

Because he is a decent person who will not hurl invectives at his adversaries. More important, Joe Biden is trusted, respected and LIKED by members of Congress on BOTH sides of the aisle.

Just ask the hyper-partisan Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who he sought out time and again to cut major deals with the Obama Administration and McConnell will tell you: Joe Biden.

Will he fight like hell against Republicans to further an agenda aimed at helping America’s middle class adapt to the global, information-based economy we now live in? You bet. But in doing so he will treat his opponents with something Trump never has: respect, decency and grace.

And Bernie Sanders? Not even close. Whether you like his policies or not, one thing about Bernie is inarguable: He is roundly disliked in Washington, by Republicans AND Democrats.

Far from restoring civility to American politics, Bernie would likely match or exceed Trump’s exacerbation of the problem. The only person possessing the gravitas and the relationships required to reestablish civility is Joe Biden.

America is on fire

Finally, some may say, “But hold on. America faces enormous challenges like health care, economic inequality, global warming, etc. We can’t just take a time out to recover from Trump. We need someone like Bernie to push the ball down the field to improve the lives of the 99%.”

First, if Bernie wins he will accomplish virtually nothing. When you AND your policies are disliked by all Republicans and at least half of Democrats, your chances for legislative success are nil.

Second, we won’t have to take a time out if Biden wins. Because in addition to being the best person to restore the foundation of America, he’s also unrivaled when it comes to his potential for achieving success on expanding health care, fighting climate change and the rest.

Third, Trump has lit the house of America on fire. And when your house is on fire you don’t focus on renovating your kitchen. You place all of your efforts on putting out the fire.

Bernie wants to install new cabinets and install marble countertops while the flames continue to envelop the soul of our country.

Joe Biden is the fireman we need. He’s the only one who can extinguish the Trump conflagration and make America civil again.

Meditation and Mindfulness teacher. Dad of three precious kids. Former writer for THE WEST WING. Follow me at davidgerken.net.

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