The never-ending Democratic presidential primary has become a battle between the improbable and the impossible.
The improbable is U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vermont) ambitious agenda. For instance, Sanders proposes a Canadian-style Medicare-for-All single-payer health insurance plan.
Passing Medicare for All is improbable in the current political climate; because of widespread opposition and Democrats’ unwillingness to compromise on some issues. In particular, Democrats’ uncompromising stance on issues such as abortion, gay rights, and judicial appointment makes any deal with Republicans to pass Medicare-for-All unlikely.
Bernie’s Improbable Agenda
To explain, I think Republicans; such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky,) could be open to compromise on Medicare for All if Democrats offer something in exchange. Supporting McConnell’s picks for federal judicial appointments, preserving the 2017 Republican tax cuts, or taking gun control legislation off the table, for instance.
Unfortunately, I believe most Democrats are afraid to discuss these compromises out of fear of primary voters. Additionally, I do not think a spineless party hack; such as Joe Biden (D-Delaware), will take the risk of offering any sort of workable compromise.
Therefore, I think Sanders’ agenda of Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage, free college, and a Green New Deal will die fast. However, Sanders’ improbable agenda is downright realistic when you compare to Biden’s impossible promises.
Biden’s Impossible Vision
Biden’s impossible promise is a return to an imaginary early era of civility and government by compromise and bargain. Specifically, Biden promises a return to the comparatively conflict free politics of the 1970s and 1980s.
I think a return to that “Second Era of Good Feelings” is impossible, unless Biden has a magic wand that can erase 40 years of technological progress and economic change. However, Biden is doubling down on that promise because it is popular in many quarters.
For example, Biden won 81.1% of the vote in the 10 March 2020, Mississippi Democratic presidential primary. In addition, Biden has a clear majority of delegates in the Democratic presidential race. Specifically, Biden had 890 delegates to Sanders’ 72 on 14 March 2020, NPR estimates.
Biden’s Impossible Promise
Closely related to Biden’s fantasy of civil politics and gentle government is his no-change promise.
In fact, Bloomberg News claims Biden promised wealthy donors; “No one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change,” under his administration. Given the problems America faces, I think this promise is impossible.
For instance, I think America’s electricity grid and energy supply will need to a complete overhaul to combat Global Warming and Climate Change. In particular, we will need to ban coal burning and force the adoption of electric vehicles. Hence, fundamental change is unavoidable in America.
Furthermore, I believe America’s jobs economy and our current system of health insurance are unsustainable. To clarify, I do not think the modern economy creates enough “good jobs” to support a middle-class lifestyle for most Americans. Even Warren Buffett; who is no socialist, thinks America’s healthcare costs are spiraling out of control, necessitating a major government intervention.
In my opinion, Biden was deluded, stupid, or lying when he made the no change promise. None of those characteristics indicate a stable mind or an effective leader.
Biden’s Fantasy Agenda
Hence, I consider Biden’s spoken agenda; such as it is, pure fantasy.
On the other hand, I wonder if Biden created the website agenda and the spoken agenda for two different audiences. The website agenda is for the wonks and pundits who something realistic.
Meanwhile, the spoken agenda is for the voters. To clarify, voters love such fantasy agendas, Donald J. Trump (R-Florida) won the 2016 presidential race with equally absurd promises.
Consequently, I think there are two probable outcomes for Biden’s fantasy. First, the agenda is a lie and Biden will follow Trump’s example and do something different in office. For instance, health-care reform that could be more radical than Bernie’s agenda.
History shows the last president elected on nostalgic fantasy abandoned it fast. Notably the Donald quietly abandoned America First and the Wall in favor of traditional neoconservatism.
Second, Biden could try to govern by compromise and civility without making major concessions to the other side. I think Biden’s civility will collapse because of intractable opposition from Republicans and left-wing Democrats.
For instance, Biden will try to solve the nation’s problems by inviting Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California), and U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) over to the White House for a beer or cocktails. Instead of cooperating, the opponents will attack the President and try to impeach Biden.
Why Biden will Fail
Either way, if they are real, Biden’s efforts to ignore the nation’s problems and return America to 1989 will create chaos and conflict.
Interestingly, America’s First Era of Good Feelings collapsed in total conflict when the public erupted in anger against the Corrupt Bargain that settled the chaotic election of 1824. The Corrupt Bargain was a compromise that enabled John Quincy Adams (R-Massachusetts); who had lost both the popular and Electoral College votes, to become the President.
Instead of restoring normalcy as its author Speaker of the House Henry Clay (?-Kentucky) hoped, the Corrupt Bargain triggered a political upheaval. The political upheaval was the Jacksonian Revolution that destroyed the existing American political system and replaced it with the Second Party system.
Ironically, I think history teaches that Biden’s promises of normalcy could be far more disruptive than Bernie’s proposals of radical structural change. Unlike Biden, Sanders admits that America requires dramatic structural change to survive in the 21st Century. Hence, Bernie is the more realistic of the two candidates.
Hopefully, Biden’s sick mixture of naive optimism and knee-jerk conservationism is an act. If Biden’s shtick is for real, I think it could lead to catastrophe for America.