Right now, Joe Biden leads the polls by big margins. Biden is favored by 32% of primary voters, with Sanders in second place with 16.9%. Biden also leads President Trump, with polls showing him favored by 49.4% of the electorate compared to 40.5% favoring Trump.
Evidently, a big portion of the electorate wants a break from all of the drama and polarization that has been characterizing our politics, wanting not firebrand of either the right or the left but a traditional Democratic politician.
So why has Biden, with his huge lead and moderate image, been trying to pass himself off as a leftist extremist?
Biden, in accord with his blue collar Catholic roots, used to a pro-life Democrat, though he caved on that issue as Democrats chose to be the pro-abortion party. But at least he opposed tax-payer funding of abortion. He has been a long-time supporter of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents direct federal funding for abortion. Recently, in this campaign, he re-affirmed this position, which is held by the vast majority of Americans on both sides of the issue. But after the pro-abortion extremists running far behind him criticized him for this stance, Biden reversed his position, announcing that he now rejects the Hyde Amendment and wants American taxpayers to pay for abortions! Why do that? This did not satisfy the pro-abortion extremists, who now blame him for formerly supporting the Hyde Amendment, and Biden comes across as a waffler without principle.
Biden, like many blue-collar urban Democrats, had a reputation of being tough on crime. One of his legislative accomplishments as a lawmaker was pushing through a tough crime bill. He was a strong proponent of the death penalty. Now, though, he is downplaying all of that, indicating that he now opposes the death penalty.
Biden appeared to be the grownup in the room in opposing the Green New Deal, the wildly unrealistic and unimaginably expensive proposal to reverse global warming that was embraced by the hard-left candidates. But then Biden produced his own proposal, the “Clean Energy Revolution,” and it’s hardly any different and nearly as expensive as the Green New Deal! Not only that, parts of it were plagiarized. Which reminds the general public of the plagiarism scandal that derailed his presidential campaign in 1988.
Biden seems to be repudiating his reputation, whether deserved or undeserved, as a moderate, embracing the positions of more extreme candidates whom he is trouncing. So in jettisoning his long-held positions, he comes across as not only unprincipled but as not very clever politically.
He is defiantly holding on to his bragging about being able to work with lawmakers he disagrees with, including segregationists, despite the left’s trying him to demonize him for that, so he is trying to present himself as a non-polarizing leader who could heal our current divisions. And African-Americans–who, significantly, are preferring him to candidates of their race–still have his back.
So he is still the clear favorite. But will he run away from the reasons people are supporting him? Perhaps he is just following the traditional politician’s tactic of running to the extremes in the primaries and then moving to the center in the election. Which may remind Americans of all persuasions of why they had become sick of traditional politicians.
Photo: Joe Biden, Official Portrait, United States Senate. [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons