Young Leftists Could Get Trump Elected Again If They Sit It Out

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Maria Oswalt

It is just my luck that the most responses I’ve ever received are on a note I wrote in response to an article criticizing Joe Biden.
The popular writer I responded to was Lauren Martinchek, concerning her essay, Joe Biden Can’t Hide His Disdain for the Left. Lauren Martinchek is a great writer, and I recommend people click on her name and check out all the great pieces she’s contributed to Medium. I think she’s way out of my league as a Medium writer. But this piece by her scares me. Judging from the responses she got, a lot of other leftists agree with her stance against Biden. She makes her argument well and articulately, but I have to disagree.

We disagree mightily on the character and campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden. I had a problem with the title. I don’t think he shows disdain for those who supported Bernie. He knows very well that he needs their votes now more than ever, and I don’t believe he is contemptuous toward his former rival’s supporters.

As Ms. Martincheck writes in her article, Bernie has been working hard toward getting Biden elected. Now if only he could get his supporters to do the same. But they’re angry and threatening to sit it out as they did in 2016. Our country can’t afford that. We really can’t.

If one looks at the 2020 Democrat Platform, it would seem a lot of what Bernie’s supporters want is nailed into that platform. Healthcare for all is a goal, even though it can’t be done in one presidential term and we’ll be lucky to get back what we’ve lost of the Affordable Health Care Act to the Republican-dominated senate. The platform includes gun control, taking on the pharmaceutical industry, a focus on education, and criminal justice reform. It also includes a new immigration program and LGBTQ rights. What’s there not to like for all liberals? I urge everyone to look up the 1920 Democratic Party Platform and read it.

My problems with this piece include a statement that Bernie “was poised to become the presumptive Democratic nominee…”.

No, he wasn’t. He never captured more than 30 percent of the vote during the primaries. With so many candidates running, Bernie did have a respectable showing, but he was far from being “poised to become the presumptive nominee.”

So after the first paragraph, I was on high alert and curious about exactly what would be said about the Democrat nominee for the presidency that would indicate he is disdainful of Bernie’s supporters. The article mostly portrays Biden as unwilling to reach out to Bernie’s supporters. I don’t see that in Biden. Yes, he did (yikes) call someone a ‘lying dog-faced pony soldier’, which cracked me up and made me love him all the more. Joe is who Joe is. He was joking, according to most reports, and smiling as if to tease the person. It’s supposed to be an old line from a John Wayne movie. At least that’s what Biden’s people said. Still, it wasn’t his best hour. But, again, Joe is Joe. The very thing some of us like best about him is also the thing others find distasteful. There’s no whitewashing. He didn’t mean the person was a “dog-faced pony soldier,” so I accept that he was trying to use an old joke that fell flat.

Blanket statements some of Bernie’s supporters make, such as saying Biden has no interest in reaching out to the left and that he is making it more difficult for former Bernie supporters to support him seem unfair. Any candidate wants all the votes they can get. Indeed, much of the Democrat platform is designed to react to the left and make sure they do not feel the Democrats are leaving them out of this election. There are probably more left-leaning democrats than centrists, but in either case, Biden needs both factions. And he knows it.

Biden is the consummate politician. That is true. And being such, he’s not about to purposely try to lose the support of a huge block of his potential voters. I haven’t seen or heard anything from Joe that indicates he doesn’t want the votes of the left flank and I’ve heard and seen a lot indicating the opposite. I’ve heard nothing cited as remarks by Joe Biden to indicate he does not respect the left-wing; and there’s nothing that would indicate he is disdainful or in contempt of Bernie’s supporters.

There are, however, things Bernie supports that Joe cannot and shouldn’t. Joe doesn’t support defunding the police and I think he’s correct to believe that the majority of Americans don’t support that either. He supports reform in the justice system, especially among the police and prisons, but not reform that takes police off the streets. Most of us are clear-eyed enough to know what would ensue if that happened. We don’t need anarchy. It’s not as much fun as some of the younger crowd seem to think it would be.

I must take issue with Ms. Martincheck’s statement that Biden wouldn’t have won the primary if Obama hadn’t “made phone calls to the other candidates… to get them to drop out and elevate him.” I asked for a source and still haven’t seen one. I can’t see Barack Obama telling people to drop out of their campaigns to benefit Biden. That isn’t his style. I’m still looking for a believable source on this. I saw a lot of pieces saying “sources say,” but again, those sources are pretty sketchy and they didn’t say Obama actually called people and asked them to drop out.

. . .even in an opinion piece. . . we must adhere to facts when reporting actions or statements of others.

If I’ve learned one thing writing about politics for 16 years, it’s that I’d better not say somebody did something without knowing for sure it happened or it’s been previously vetted and reported. I can opine that I think someone would or could do something, but I’d stop short of saying the calls were made. Sometimes we forget that even in an opinion piece — which this was — we must adhere to facts when reporting actions or statements of others.

I can say Bernie is just an old socialist, but I damned well better not say Obama (or anyone else) said Bernie is just an old socialist, unless I heard it said or it’s been widely sourced, reported, and accepted.

Journalistic integrity is a slippery little noodle. Sometimes we feel so passionate about a subject that words flow. Those are the good times.

A lot of Bernie’s supporters say they aren’t going to vote for Biden. This is truly cutting off one’s proverbial nose to spite one’s face.

Biden needs their votes. We all need their votes if we are to preserve Democracy in this Republic. Trump has done more damage in four years than most of us could have imagined. We must get the psychopath out of the White House.

Biden is of course not the perfect candidate — especially in the eyes of the leftists who supported Bernie. But he’s thousands of times better than Trump. The hope of this nation depends upon getting Trump out of office and Biden in.

It’s common sense that a moderate is better than a crazy right-wing enemy of women, poor people, immigrants, people of color, the planet, and everyone else who needs help and protection from the government of the United States.

I’ve heard and been taught that the purpose of government is to do for the people what the people cannot do for themselves. We can’t all vote on every decision so we elect representatives. We elect a president (when the electoral college doesn’t thwart us) to lead our country.

Does the left need personal invitations to support Biden? They need him elected as much as moderates do.

To all the Bernie supporters who now say they refuse to vote for Biden, you did that before. We got Trump. The damage is horrifying now and will get worse. Please don’t do that to us again. The planet and the nation may not be able to sustain more of Trump.

Former print journalist, former mayor, retired law enforcement officer. Writing about politics and government along with random personal essays.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store