On Jan. 12, 2017, a very moving and apparently unexpected tribute from President obama for Vice President Joe Biden played out live before television cameras, when he apportioned his former rival-turned function mate-turned trusted adviser and friend the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Much of the country was still reeling from Trump’s win, and millions “wouldve been” stunned simply eight days later by the bizarre conjuring of” American carnage” in a somber, divisive inaugural address.
During those dark periods, that genuine minute between two of the most powerful servicemen in the world was a bittersweet reminder of how a certain kind of empathetic humanity was leaving the White House for at least four years( it is very difficult to suppose Trump ever “ve got something” as selfless for Mike Pence, for example ). In his observes, Obama laid out many of the attributes and accomplishments that have long endeared the vice president to voters( he enjoyed a 61 percent approval rating at the time) but too may have resonated with African-American voters in particular.
” My house is so proud to call ourselves honorary Bidens ,” Obama said. Biden, and perhaps some witness at home, were to come to rends. After all, this was quite an arc for someone who had once rejected the first blacknes president as ” cleanse and enunciate .” He was now” Uncle Joe “– beloved star of memes but too, a white man from an earlier generation who nevertheless always had Obama’s back.
Now, with Obama’s blessing if not his formal blurb, Biden has sought the presidency himself for the third time in 30 years, and this time, he’s enjoying a solid and in a number of cases germinating conduct over a historically gigantic discipline of Democratic challengers. The backbone of his support comes from the most reliable and one of the most coveted Democratic primary voting factions: African-Americans.
Most of the cable news commentary has approached this fact with the condescending assertion that Biden’s black support is mostly due to name recognition and his proximity to Obama. Some have suggested that older black voters, who are traditionally more moderate, may be attracted to his centrism.
But these red-hot takes overlook something little tangible and quantifiable: how much the sincere, integrated affection of Biden and Obama( and their families) was cathartic and inspirational. It was the personification of the post-racial utopia some hoped Obama’s election victories would deliver but never did, and probably never could.
Their platonic bromance provided comfort during the confounding period when Obama’s notorietyseemed to grow simultaneously with the rise and preposterous the election of members of a follower who championed a prejudiced expedition to repudiate him.
It helped that Biden never undermined Obama. He cheered him on (” big fucking deal “) or nudged him in the right direction( it took his same sex marriage gaffe to push the president to get on the right side of history faster than he was planning to) but he was deferential in all the right ways to the first pitch-black chairperson. It is sometimes overlooked that Biden was chosen as Obama’s VP to provide the young senator with an imprimatur of seasoned foreign policy gravitas( a.k.a. white maleness ), but few scholars anticipated how advantageous that relationship would ultimately be for Biden.
Right now, he’s enjoying something of a honeymoon period–with the press and even the current president treating him like the inevitable nominee–even though there hasn’t been a single debate and there won’t be a single election cast in the primary game this year.
And there is still plenty of experience and reasons for African-Americans to turn on him. If Hillary Clinton’s record became a turnoff for some black voters, try Biden’s on for size: he crafted the draconian 1994 crime invoice–which simply exacerbated a mass captivity crisis, voted for the Iraq War, railroaded Anita Hill, opposed busing in the 1970 s, has spoken affectionately about arch-segregationist Strom Thurmond–the index goes on and on.
For many African-Americans, its own history is intimidating at best, disqualifying at worst.
And then there are the eight years of Obama, which for better or worse, Biden has totally affixed himself to. In many courses this Democratic primary process will be a referendum on the Obama years–did they go too far to the left or not far enough?
Sure, Obama experiences near universal popularity with Democratic voters and African-Americans, but his actual presidency stimulates more ambiguous sorrows, and Biden may not be the best person to champion it.
Biden is and was far better a person of the D.C. swamp than Obama ever was, and so far, his 2020 candidacy hasn’t had the same bold, inspirational flavor Obama’s did. One could argue that the theme of his expedition to date has been” Make Republicans Great Again ,” romanticizing an period that was superficially more convivial, but arguably merely because there was far less daylight between the parties.
The state of the ethnic fraction( as well as engages over everything from reproduction claims to gun control and climate change) has laid bare just how gigantic the gulf between the left and the claim rightfully is. Meanwhile, after decades of being taken for granted, pitch-black voters have become more vocal about holding their dominance and are seeking tangible policies that address their specific needs.
There’s a reason why reparations is a legitimate campaign topic this repetition for the first time ever and why” rising tide will face-lift all crafts” rhetoric will likely not fly this time around.
Younger black liberals in particular have shown a willingness to reassess sacred center-left cows like JFK, LBJ, Clinton and now Obama, too. And while the Bidens and the Obamas will always provide a pretty picture together, there will need to be real, substantive program meat on Biden’s pitch to close the deal.
These voters will have multiple viable African-American nominees to choose from–Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and potentially Stacey Abrams( whom Biden’s team has already presumptuously moved as a potential VP) — which is more than ever before–and they don’t have the racial baggage he has.
On the other hand, his weaknesses are papered over to some extent by Trump’s excess. You suppose Biden’s racially insensitive? Look at Trump. You think he’s inappropriate physically with women? Look at Trump. Sure, the 76 -year-old Biden is behind the times, but look at Trump.
And black voters have traditionally been been pragmatic–they acknowledge the deficit Democrat have with the kind of rural and working class white voters that Biden is directly appealing to, and there is a widespread( if untested) sense that Biden may be the best positioned to win those people back.
Of course, there is a danger that in his efforts to appeal to disaffected white-hot voters, Biden will alienate the pitch-black voters whose fervor and supporting he desperately needs. Bernie Sanders remains a cautionary tale for any Democrat attempting the nomination without strong pitch-black subscribe.
And even with near universal black support, Hillary Clinton stands as a cautionary anecdote for what happens when that allegiance isn’t especially enthusiastic. Her narrow loss in 2016 can be immediately linked to diminished( and squelched) African-American turnout in a handful of key states.
It’s unclear if Biden has learned the lessons of Clinton’s unexpected win. He has branded himself an” Obama Democrat ,” but Hillary Clinton moved as close to the 44 th chairman as she could but still couldn &# x27; t got to get the Electoral College finish line. There’s the tenaciou actuality that neither of these beings and in fact none of the current nominees operating actually is Barack Obama.
So the burden is now on Biden( and the 24 other nominees playing for the chance to defeat Trump next November) be interested to hear blacknes voters, to learn from black voters and hopefully deliver for them if they ever get the chance. If Biden or any Democrat manages to make good on what they pledge to their African-American supporters, it could solidify the party’s fortitude for a new generation. And that really would be a” large-scale fucking deal .”