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  • Victor C. Bolles

Run, Joe, Run

Joe Biden seems to be a nice guy. Most people seem to like him. And he has an easy going nature even though he is prone to political gaffes. But that is not a “big fucking deal” as Joe would say.

He would make an attractive presidential candidate in 2020. Unlike many of the other Democratic candidates for president, he has a lot of experience. He has been in government for fifty years. Of course, forty-seven of those years were in Washington, D.C. But that does not mean he is part of the swamp (or does it?).

Joe has the gift of gab. Of course, his old man was a used car salesman so that explains a lot. And Joe grew up in a working class neighborhood and is popular in blue collar regions (and is well-liked by union leaders, as well).

He has been considered to be a centrist in the Democratic Party. Of course, that was the old Democratic Party, not the new progressive Democratic Party that is being dragged to the extreme left by some of the new rising Democratic stars. The new progressive Democratic Party now considers even former President Barack Obama to be insufficiently progressive (according to Ilhan Omar, one of the rising stars) even though President Obama was the most leftist president the United States has ever had.

Hard core conservatives will be opposed to Joe. He favors abortion rights, gun control and teachers’ unions. But these have been traditional Democratic issues for a long time. On other issues he is more mainstream and even the Libertarian Cato Institute gave him a 42% rating. A Biden administration would be unlikely to attempt to transform the United States into a socialist country or to even veer significantly to the left. Blue collar lunch bucket issues will be the principle theme to any campaign of good ol’ “Middle Class Joe,” as he likes to call himself.

Joe would probably be the best candidate to take the centrist crown from Howard Schultz, Starbuck’s former CEO and also a traditional Democrat but running (or at least thinking about running) as an independent. Either of them would be trashed by the progressive left-wing of the Democratic party. It will be a nasty primary season so I hope Joe is up for it (because Howard, a political neophyte, is unlikely to be).

Without Joe, a centrist candidate (presumably Howard) would only be able to help President Trump get re-elected. However, if the centrist position was vacant, Democrats would feel free to nominate even the most stridently leftist candidate out to convert America into Venezuela. But if Biden was the Democrat’s candidate, he would be able to attract centrist, moderate and even some Republican votes.

Few people would describe my political position as centrist, much less centrism as conceived by Democrats. But I do believe strongly in American institutions and the Western oriented global order created and supported by those institutions. President Trump and the progressive left both want to destroy these institutions. The left wants to create a state-run economy that focuses on the equality of outcomes, not equality of opportunity, and will replace American institutions with Soviet-style committees run by party apparatchiks. President Trump wants to destroy the institutional swamp but is not clear with what new institutions, if any, he would replace them with.

I believe that an eight-year Trump presidency could create incalculable destruction to the America that we know and love just as would a sharp veer to the left. But I don’t think that Joe Biden would do that. With a little luck, Joe wouldn’t be as ideological as President Obama or as ineffectual as President Carter. With just a little luck he might be pragmatic like President Clinton (without the sexual escapades).

But Joe is old. He would be 78 at his inauguration and 82 if he wanted to run a gain. So, Joe is likely be a one-term president. But that could be a good thing.

Right now, we face a Hobson’s choice between populist extremes on the left and the right. Joe could provide us with a cooling off period allowing the political forces in our country to realize that extremism and ideological purity isn’t what the American people want. After Watergate and the resignation of President Nixon, we needed an interregnum with all-American nice guy, Gerry Ford. Joe Biden could be the nice guy we need at this fraught time who can offer us a period of sober reflection we desperately require before embarking on a treacherous course.

So, run, Joe, run.

And while we’re at it:

As Yogi Berra famously noted, if you see a fork in the road, take it! We seem to be coming to a fork in the road and I, for one, do not want to take either the right fork or the left fork. We can’t turn around and go back. So, what can we do?

We must blaze a new trail. Luckily, we have been given a map that can help us to blaze this new trail. It is an old map. And even though it has been updated along the way, it now appears to be out of date.

But a map must be accurate and reflect reality or you will more be lost than without such a map. The right and left forks reflect skewed visions of reality. The left fork envisions a perfect world where everyone is equal even though every attempt to create such a world has led to ruin. The right fork envisions a world of power and authority wrapped in warped national identities that create animosity, tyranny and war.

We must reflect on who we really are if we want to find out where we are going. We must remember that we are all flawed individuals with flawed memories. That we create flawed institutions and often act on our basest instincts instead of our noblest. We must be careful that any course we set off on must take into account our flawed natures and that we will make mistakes, err in judgment and choose unwisely. We need a course that allows us to be human. One that lets us correct our errors. We need the ability to change course when we recognize errors.

The American system attempts to achieve this human system by making sure that no single element of society is so powerful that it overwhelms all the other participants in the society. That is why we have limited government. That is why we have a civil society made up of non-profit organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). That is why we have a mix of public and private companies. And that is why millions upon millions of citizens make innumerable economic, political, social and familial decisions every day.

The populists of the left and the right strive to make a perfect institution and to focus power into fewer and fewer hands that control the government and make decisions. But these governments are inherently flawed because they are imagined and developed by flawed individuals and all that power is concentrated in the hands of flawed individuals. And one of the flaws of these powerful individuals is that they don’t give up power willingly. No socialist or fascist system has willingly given up power. And it is the citizens of tyrannical governments that suffer most in the process of the inevitable societal collapse as is happening in Venezuela.

That’s why we need Joe.

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