I admit it. The Biden controversy has kept me captivated for the past few days. It’s a mess, but it stuck out to me particularly because it seems to epitomize (in such borderline satirical perfection that it could pass as a right-wing parody piece) the ideological conflict within the Democratic Party. Given the, according to the rhetoric over the past few years, ‘biblically high stakes,’ the slow cannibalization of Biden initially struck me as vaguely hypocritical, and, if we want to be
realistic pessimistic, the first step toward the definitive loss of the 2020 election. But is it?
And before I continue, I want to make it clear: I’m not a fan of Biden. If anything, I should be glad to see him trashed. Rebecca Traister’s aggregation of his questionable history makes a solid case against him. She comically/prophetically describes Biden as someone “whose self-assured conviction that his authority will protect him from rebuke has always preceded him into any room, whose confident sense of his own entitlement repels potential objection like Gore-Tex repels rain.” Eerily reminiscent of Hillary’s 2016 swagger— but with Biden’s apparent confidence going into 2020, it makes one wonder whether the implicit message of her failure was at all internalized by the Democratic party. I like to think Rebecca intended this irony.
Anyway, with regard to his polling history (as of April 9th), Biden has consistently been shown to stand the best chance against Trump. And given the stream of abject horror at the current presidency that both establishment Democrats and progressives (the two factions primarily at odds here) have put forth, this sort of infighting begs questioning.
Now, I’ll go out on a limb here and make the outrageous claim that Biden isn’t a critically dangerous perpetrator. He’s more of a necessary casualty (maybe a sacrifice at the altar is a more fitting metaphor) who symbolically represents a culture that we are more or less in agreement that we’d like to move past. And I’m more or less in agreement about this too, so I won’t ‘get in the way.’
But considering the stakes— considering the, again, abject horror that has characterized the critique of Trump, and for that matter has seemingly been the sole uniting principle of leftist politics— it seems crucial to examine the trajectory the left is on if we’re throwing a boogeyman Biden under the bus. Is it worth assuming all the worst intentions of his actions, projecting all of our worst fears onto him, and cannibalizing someone who might be the genuine contender against Trump? And for that matter, has this seventy-six (76) year-old highly established public figure been getting his rocks off in front of thousands of cameras and ~billions of eyeballs this entire time?
Hypersexualizing a functionally asexual character like Biden feels counterproductive, and even vaguely Pizzagate-esque. But more importantly, the left ascribing such malevolence to a figure who is (if it’s possible to look past his new symbolic significance as another insidious representative of wh*te m*le p*triarchy) a comparably benign ‘return to normalcy’ and lesser of two evils, seems a bit short-sighted, no?
Or maybe not. Is this the growing progressive base’s bold refusal to compromise on values? Maybe they seek to purify the party as soon as possible, no matter the risk or the cost. Maybe this is indicative of such a titanic shifting of values in leftist politics that four more years of Trump is considered an acceptable price to pay in order to get the message across that some ‘tactile’ bastard like Joe Biden cannot and will not represent the Democratic party, starting now?
Or maybe (most likely), it’s that the optics of Biden’s transgressions were just too juicy for even typically establishment Democrat media outlets (who would otherwise push for politicians of Biden’s ilk) not to drum up and cash in on. Four more years of poopooing Trump sure would do wonders for the ratings after all… But that’s another story.
An increasingly sensationalized media that thrives on controversy will inevitably work against a left-wing with ever increasing purity standards. Maybe a politics addicted to indignant moral grandstanding is a volatile enough force that it can’t be sufficiently contained to prevent such friendly fire. The right (as proven in 2016) is more callous and pragmatic when it comes to politics. Progress will always require more work than maintaining a (failing) system. But with the Democratic party’s continued inability to reconcile the somewhat diverse views of its voting base their chances in 2020 seem dismal, and the future looks grim for an even more ideologically diverse nation.
It may already be too late, the damage may have been done, but in a time of, again, ‘biblically high stakes,’ the continued fragmentation of the Democratic Party should, one would think, be a constant consideration moving forward. I’m personally, as you could probably tell,
fascinated by a good train wreck pretty optimistic. Unfortunately if things don’t go ‘according to plan’ this time around we won’t have the consolatory schadenfreude of Hillary supporter meltdown compilations.