Biden/Harris: The 2020 Democratic presidential ticket

Joe Biden spent almost thir­ty years in pur­suit of the pres­i­den­cy, and even while hold­ing the office at age eighty, Joe is not going to quit while he’s ahead.

The 46th Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States used a video on Wednes­day to announce that he and Vice Pres­i­dent Kamala Har­ris are run­ning for sec­ond terms.

“Every gen­er­a­tion of Amer­i­cans has faced a moment when they’ve had to defend democ­ra­cy, stand up for our per­son­al free­doms and stand up for our right to vote and our civ­il rights: Let’s fin­ish the job,” Biden told his polar­ized country.

He made an ini­tial cam­paign stop lat­er in the day, tout­ing 800,000 new man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs on his watch at a con­ven­tion of build­ing and con­struc­tion trades unions. Amer­i­ca has gone back to work since the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, albeit with many Amer­i­cans stay­ing home to work.

The president’s nation­al job approval rat­ing stands at forty-two per­cent, accord­ing to an NBC News poll released ear­li­er this week.

It’s a per­cent­age at which one term pres­i­dents, includ­ing George H.W. Bush and Jim­my Carter, have been sent pack­ing by the vot­ers. Sev­en­ty per­cent of those sur­veyed said they do not want Biden to run again.

We know Biden. He was elect­ed to the Sen­ate in 1972 and served thir­ty-six years before being tapped as Barack Obama’s run­ning mate in 2008. He has evolved on such issues as abor­tion care. He has embraced such issues as cli­mate action. He has con­sis­tent­ly cham­pi­oned the cause of his nation’s blue col­lar workers.

What, then, boosts his prospects of reelec­tion in the face of low nation­al poll num­bers that have last­ed since the chaot­ic with­draw­al of forces from Afghanistan in the late sum­mer of 2021?

Biden faces a rematch with his pre­de­ces­sor Don­ald Trump, wide­ly unpop­u­lar with the gen­er­al pub­lic but backed by a right wing fac­tion of the Amer­i­can electorate.

Trump is not look­ing ahead to America’s future but is run­ning as a can­di­date of ret­ri­bu­tion, refus­ing to admit his own loss in 2020 and bundling the griev­ances of Amer­i­cans left behind in a tech­nol­o­gy-dri­ven economy.

Against this mind­set, Amer­i­cans gave Democ­rats the best show­ing of any par­ty hold­ing the White House since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first midterm in 1934.

In Wash­ing­ton State, Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray swept to reelec­tion, the Democ­rats picked up a U.S. House seat with Marie Glue­senkamp Perez, and made gains in a state Leg­is­la­ture where they were sup­posed to go into the tank.

“It’s the econ­o­my, stu­pid,” strate­gist James Carville said in mas­ter­mind­ing Bill Clinton’s suc­cess­ful run for the pres­i­den­cy in 1992.

The brief strate­gic mantra holds par­tic­u­lar res­o­nance in America’s so-called rust belt, the Great Lakes states of Penn­syl­va­nia, Michi­gan and Wis­con­sin, tak­en by Trump in 2016 but car­ried by Biden in 2020.

The Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion (with Har­ris wield­ing a tiebreak­ing vote in the Unit­ed States Sen­ate on a near-record num­ber of occa­sions) has made the most of slim Demo­c­ra­t­ic majori­ties in Con­gress dur­ing its first two years in office.

The Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan put mon­ey into an econ­o­my rav­aged by the pandemic.

With the Infra­struc­ture Invest­ment and Jobs Act, the Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion enact­ed a law about which pre­vi­ous admin­is­tra­tions just talked.

With CHIPS and Sci­ence, guid­ed by Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell, D‑Washington, the U.S. has been put on a path to restore a vital indus­try we pio­neered but is now dom­i­nat­ed across the Pacif­ic by Tai­wan and China.

The Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion has even man­aged, with the Infla­tion Reduc­tion Act, to make a major invest­ment in clean ener­gy, at a time when impacts of cli­mate change are being felt from drought con­di­tions in the West to more pow­er­ful hur­ri­canes hit­ting Flori­da and the Gulf Coast. The need for action is urgent, giv­en the last eight years of record tem­per­a­tures and last week’s Unit­ed Nations report on Moth­er Earth’s rapid­ly shrink­ing glaciers.

It’s a record of recov­ery and incre­men­tal change — less ambi­tious than the pro­pos­als cham­pi­oned by the Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus and its backers.

Biden sup­port­ed expan­sive reform but found it blocked by two rene­gade Democ­rats in the U.S. Sen­ate. How­ev­er, sub­stan­tial leg­is­la­tion was passed, even a mod­est gun safe­ty bill, the first of its kind since 1994.

Biden is the old­est pres­i­dent in U.S. his­to­ry, eleven years old­er than Ronald Rea­gan, who suc­cess­ful­ly sought the office at age sixty-nine.

On the very last episode of his FNC show, Tuck­er Carl­son sneered at Biden with a claim that he’s suf­fer­ing ini­tial stages of demen­tia. It’s also a claim made by right wing hack Sean Han­ni­ty. In a nasty polit­i­cal cli­mate, Biden even found him­self heck­led by ultra MAGA Repub­li­cans dur­ing his State of the Union speech.

The pres­i­dent toyed with them, which is what Biden needs to do. He cam­paigned from the base­ment of his Delaware home in 2016, before the COVID-19 vac­cine was avail­able for dis­tri­b­u­tion. He can’t run like that again.

In coun­ter­ing ageist attacks, the Pres­i­dent will need to be out on the hus­tings, and made more avail­able to the press.

Biden’s White House has lim­it­ed acces­si­bil­i­ty much in the man­ner of Reagan.

Biden has a his­to­ry of mala­props, and once held forth so long at a Sen­ate For­eign Rela­tions Com­mit­tee com­mit­tee hear­ing that fresh­man Sen­a­tor Barack Oba­ma passed a note telling an aide, “Shoot me.” But he is an engag­ing, com­pas­sion­ate man, influ­enced by death of his son Beau eight years ago.

He has an abil­i­ty to con­nect. Wit­ness Biden’s speech on health, and inter­ac­tion with dia­betes patients, at Green Riv­er Col­lege a year ago.

The Pres­i­dent has a major issue going for him – the right of women to make their own repro­duc­tive health­care deci­sions. A right-dom­i­nat­ed Supreme Court took away this right in many states with its Dobbs deci­sion last year. Repub­li­can-run states have since rushed to dras­ti­cal­ly lim­it abor­tion rights.

In Flori­da, ultra MAGA Gov­er­nor (and wannabe Trump suc­ces­sor) Ron DeSan­tis has just signed a bill mak­ing abor­tion ille­gal after just six weeks of pregnancy.

The Supremes’ action has split the coun­try, with Wash­ing­ton among states that have con­tin­ued to pro­tect repro­duc­tive rights and access to abor­tion care. Vot­ers have shown, how­ev­er, even in such con­ser­v­a­tive states as Kansas, that they are pro-lib­er­ty. The issue is like­ly to remain with us, as the legal­i­ty of med­ica­tion abor­tion pills has already reached the Supreme Court and like­ly will return there.

Still, age rears its head. Biden is cer­tain to be watched, with every ver­bal stum­ble report­ed and ana­lyzed. So many lies have come from the mouth of a sev­en­ty-six year-old Trump that the coun­try has grown used to his disinformation.

Biden’s age is like­ly to put Vice Pres­i­dent Kamala Har­ris, his run­ning mate, under a brighter spot­light. She is part of the Biden reelec­tion roll­out and is slat­ed to lead an repro­duc­tive rights ral­ly on Wednes­day night.

Nobody can fore­cast the future of Ukraine, which the U.S. and NATO have sup­plied with arms, and which have thus far rolled back Russia’s invasion.

Biden has cham­pi­oned the cause, even mak­ing a risky trip to the embat­tled coun­try to meet with Pres­i­dent Zelen­sky. Repub­li­cans used to be adamant oppo­nents of the old Sovi­et Union. But they are split on Putin’s mur­der­ous war of aggres­sion, with the party’s far right wish­ing to aban­don Ukraine.

A final plus for Biden: He faces no major chal­lenger for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­na­tion. At his request, the DNC has rejig­gered the pri­ma­ry cal­en­dar to open with South Car­oli­na. It was a piv­otal state in his 2016 run.

So far, his only non-Repub­li­can chal­lengers are new-ager Mar­i­anne Williamson and anti-vaxxer Robert Kennedy, Jr. , one of Tuck­er Carlson’s guests in his last week on FNC. Nei­ther is con­sid­ered a cred­i­ble can­di­date by most Democrats.

Joe Biden is with us after all these years. Can he pre­vail again next year in what he has accu­rate­ly called a “bat­tle for the soul of America?”

About the author

Joel Connelly is a Northwest Progressive Institute contributor who has reported on multiple presidential campaigns and from many national political conventions. During his career at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, he interviewed Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush. He has covered Canada from Trudeau to Trudeau, written about the fiscal meltdown of the nuclear energy obsessed WPPSS consortium (pronounced "Whoops") and public lands battles dating back to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

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