Reasons to be Optimistic about Joe Biden

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. (D-Delaware) is one of the most uninspiring figures in American political history.

Personally, Biden is both boring and confusing. Moreover, Biden lacks a coherent ideology, or political vision. Indeed, Joe seems to have no visible beliefs or values.

Finally, Biden is a terrible orator who cannot inspire anybody. Biden cannot raise passions in the way President Donald J. Trump Sr. (R-Florida) does.

Yet there are some reasons to be optimistic about a Joe Biden presidency.

The Reasons to be Optimistic about Joe Biden include:

1. Biden has a vast amount of experience as a legislator

In fact, Biden spent 36 years in the United States Senate. Thus, Biden knows how Congress works and how to get things done there.

America’s most effective President James K. Polk (D-Tennessee) was also a Congressional veteran. Indeed, Polk was a former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Notably, Polk is the only president who achieved all of his objectives in the White House.

Additionally, another highly effective president Lyndon B. Johnson (D-Texas) was a veteran of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Johnson passed landmark legislation including Medicare, Medicaid, the Voting Rights Act, Civil Rights Laws, and Immigration Reform.

Hence, it is possible, Biden could achieve some huge legislative victories if Democrats win a majority in the U.S. Senate in November. Such victories could include a Green New Deal, Trade Reform, a New Voting Rights Act, a Basic Income, and some form of Medicare for All.

2. Biden Will Probably not Serve a Second Term

Since Biden is 77 it is improbable that he will seek a second term. Hence, Biden will focus his tenure in office on getting stuff done rather than reelection.

One reason Polk was so so effective, was that he refused to seek a second term. Hence, no second term dreams distracted Polk from implementing his agenda. Historically, some of Presidents’ worst failures came from their focus on reelection rather than the job.

Today, Trump’s efforts to appease the Tea Party and Republican donors have left his administration incapable of dealing with the Coronavirus Depression. Trump, for instance, refuses to consider a paycheck guarantee or continuous stimulus out of fear of a backlash from hardcore libertarians.

Hence, president without a second-term obsession could be what America needs. A Biden focused on fixing the economy could restore Americans’ faith in their government and country.

3. Biden and Senate Democrats could end Gridlock in Washington

Congressional gridlock is one of Americans’ greatest complaints about their government. Politicians, however, refuse to end gridlock because it enhances their power.

To explain, the major cause of congressional gridlock is an archaic US Senate tradition called the filibuster. Under the filibuster, any U.S. Senator can block any legislation for as long as he or she wants.

The filibuster creates gridlock because it requires a vote of 60 Senators to override. Hence, the U.S. Senate needs a large majority to pass legislation to which one member objects. Under current conditions, getting a such majority is impossible in the Senate.

Strangely, the Senate could end the filibuster with a simple majority vote. Hence, the Senate could pass legislation with 51 votes. Thus, Senate could start functioning like every other national legislature on Earth, including the U.S. House of Representatives. Notably, the Senate has already adopted the “nuclear option;” no filibuster for judicial appointments, to please voters.

I think one advantage to ending the filibuster could be to encourage real bipartisanship. To elaborate, I think Senators will have more incentive to cooperate with the other party if they lack the power to block legislation individually.

For instance, Senators could support legislation, in exchange for a chance to influence it. In politics, some influence is better than no influence, which is what the minority party has in today’s US Senate.

I cannot tell if such rumors are true, but ending the filibuster is a splendid idea. Notably, the filibuster is Senate tradition, not law. Moreover, historically the filibuster is a minor tradition.

However, the filibuster increases the power and influence of individual Senators, so the Senate loves it. Killing the filibuster is hard. Remember, President Trump also wants the filibuster abolished. However, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch (R-Kentucky) who is an enormous fan of the filibuster, scuttled those plans.

One way, Biden can kill the filibuster is to use the coronavirus depression as a pretext. Then demand the death of the filibuster. However, I think it will take a Senate majority dedicated to killing the filibuster to accomplish that goal.

A strategy Biden could use to kill the filibuster is to reach out to frustrated moderate Republicans; such as U.S. Senators Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) and Cory Gardner (R-Colorado). Gardner and Hawley support one of the radical economic measures Biden praises a federal paycheck guarantee. However, they have no support in their party.

Unfortunately, Gardner could soon leave from the Senate because he represents Colorado, a left-leaning Blue State. Gardner faces reelection in November. On the other hand, Hawley; who leans left on economic issues, will still be in office next year.

4. Biden seems to endorse some radical economic policies America needs

For example, on his podcast Biden told failed presidential candidate Andrew Yang (D-New York) that he supports a federal paycheck guarantee similar to Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s policy in the UK. To elaborate Her Majesty’s Governments guarantees up to £2,500 ($3,222.84) a month in salary for British subjects to prevent economic collapse.

Biden calls the program an economic freeze, but it is the Johnson scheme. I think a paycheck guarantee could provide the economic suffering the Coronavirus depression is causing in the United States.

Notably, none of the European countries that offered a paycheck guarantee experienced serious civil unrest in June. In contrast, a wave of riots swept the US. Meanwhile, Britain saw only a few protests and attacks on statues and France; usually the most violent industrialized country was quiet.

France has a paycheck guarantee similar to the UK’s. Consequently, I think a paycheck guarantee could prevent civil unrest in the U.S.

Furthermore, Biden could embrace other economic policies that could trigger a fast recovery in the United States. Biden could sign off on monthly stimulus payments of $1,200 or even $2,000 a month to households. Notably, the US House of Representatives’ HEROES Act proposes a $1,200 a month stimulus for each American.  

Other efforts Biden could support include jobs programs, enhanced unemployment insurance, Social Security increases, and a public works program. Note: I’m skeptical of jobs programs and public works because it will take months or years to implement such efforts.

Some reasons to fear Joe Biden

Unfortunately, there are many reasons to fear Joe Biden. In particular, Biden is an old-fashioned moderate who is dedicated to compromise and bipartisanship.

Historically, moderate efforts at compromise have made some crises worse. For instance, it was moderate efforts to compromise on slavery in the 1850s that made America’s Civil War inevitable.

Instead, of settling the issue, the moderates’ solutions made the crisis worse and drove many ordinary Americans into the extremist camps. Many Southerners, in particular, became convinced that the federal government was incapable of protecting slavery. Hence, they became secessionist.

Why We need to Fear the Moderates

Likewise, many Northerners became convinced that the federal government could not contain Slavery to the South. Thus those people became abolitionists because they viewed slavery as a threat to them.

Meanwhile, moderate leaders such as U.S. Senator Stephen Douglas (D-Illinois) kept offering compromises that inflamed the situation. For instance, Douglas intended his Kansas-Nebraska Act to placate the South by allowing Slavery in Kansas.

Instead, the Act led to open warfare between pro and anti-slavery settlers in the Kansas Territory. One result of Bleeding Kansas was to convince many Northerners that only armed force could keep slavery out of the West. Similarly, many Southerners came to believe that force was the only means of protecting slavery from abolitionists.

By 1861, many former moderates; including Douglas himself, came to view armed force as the only solution to the problem of slavery. Thus, Biden could trigger a worse crisis in American with a lame effort at compromise or bipartisanship.

Biden the Deficit Hawk

Another reason to fear Biden is his obsession with limiting the deficit and controlling federal spending.

In the past, Biden has often sympathized with Republican efforts to cut entitlements to limit the deficit. In the 1990s, U.S. Senator Biden was on record advocating Social Security and Medicare cuts for 40 years, The Intercept alleges. I have seen C-Span video of Biden promoting such cuts.

Thus, Biden is a deficit hawk, which could be bad for America. For instance, some economist think deficit hawk and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (D-New York) obsession with balancing the budget made the Great Depression last longer.

To elaborate, the theory is Roosevelt and Congress did not spend enough money to push the US economy out of Depression in the late 1930s. Notably, most economists believe it was massive spending on World War II that triggered a recovery and economic boom in the US during the 1940s.

Given the history, I think any belt tightening by the next President could lead to a long depression and stagflation. The effects of that policy could be mass unemployment and civil unrest.

Biden the War Hawk

Finally, Biden could repeat the mistakes of George W. Bush (R-Texas), Barack Obama (D-Illinois), and Trump and continue America’s wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Currently, those wars waste resources, cause needless death and suffering, and threaten America’s national security.

Instead of preventing terrorism. The wars in Iraq and Syria have only created newer and nastier terrorists. Remember, the bloody power vacuum in post-Saddam Iraq gave rise to ISIS. Hence, new wars could create new terrorists with new capabilities.

Frighteningly, news reports claim Biden could repeat Trump’s mistake of appointing a national security team of war hawks and imperialists. Trump’s imperialist national security team has sabotaged the President’s efforts to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Additionally, the imperialists in the Trump administration came close to triggering a war with Iran. I think there could be only one winner in a US-Iran war: China.

To explain, a strong and independent Iran could serve as a buffer state to keep China out of the Middle East. A defeated Iran will become a Chinese puppet state. Hence, Biden could increase Chinese power through an imperialist foreign policy.

Thus, there are reasons to be optimistic about a Biden presidency. Conversely, there are many reasons to fear a Biden Administration.