How Biden Could Lose
I’m not saying it will happen or even that it’s likely it will happen. But we can begin to see the outlines of how it might happen. George Packer:
“If Donald Trump wins, in a trustworthy vote, what’s happening this week in Kenosha, Wisconsin, will be one reason. Maybe the reason. And yet Joe Biden has it in his power to spare the country a second Trump term….[O]n Monday, the Republicans began their remote convention. The simultaneous mayhem in Kenosha seemed like part of the script, as it played into their main theme: that Biden is a tool of radical leftists who hate America, who want to bring the chaos of the cities they govern out to the suburbs where the real Americans live. The Republicans won’t let such an opportunity go to waste. “Law and order are on the ballot,” Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday night. Other speakers were harsher.
It’s no use dismissing their words as partisan talking points. They are effective ones, backed up by certain facts. Trump will bang this loud, ugly drum until Election Day. He knows that Kenosha has placed Democrats in a trap. They’ve embraced the protests and the causes that drive them. The third night of the Democratic convention was consumed with the language and imagery of protest—as if all Americans watching were activists.
On Monday, the day after Blake’s shooting, Biden and his vice-presidential nominee, Senator Kamala Harris, released statements expressing outrage. The next day, Biden’s spokesperson released a statement opposing “burning down communities and needless destruction.” And on Wednesday, Biden, after speaking with the Blake family, condemned both the initial incident and the subsequent destruction. “Burning down communities is not protest,” he pleaded in a video. “It’s needless violence.” He said the same after George Floyd’s killing.
How many Americans have heard him? In the crude terms of a presidential campaign, voters know that the Democrat means it when he denounces police brutality, but less so when he denounces riots. To reach the public and convince it otherwise, Biden has to go beyond boilerplate and make it personal, memorable.”
Packer has a suggestion for how to do this which seems eminently sensible to me. In fact, I can’t think of a good reason for Biden not to do it.
“Biden, then, should go immediately to Wisconsin, the crucial state that Hillary Clinton infamously ignored. He should meet the Blake family and give them his support and comfort. He should also meet Kenoshans like the small-business owners quoted in the Times piece, who doubt that Democrats care about the wreckage of their dreams. Then, on the burned-out streets, without a script, from the heart, Biden should speak to the city and the country. He should speak for justice and for safety, for reform and against riots, for the crying need to bring the country together. If he says these things half as well as Julia Jackson did, we might not have to live with four more years of Trump.”
I can, however, think of a bad reason why Biden might not do this. From a good Politico report on the situation in Kenosha and Wisconsin:
“John “Sly” Sylvester, a longtime Democrat and radio personality who has been active in the labor movement, said he feared Democrats have a “blind spot” to rioters and looters.
“I think there are some people on the left who don’t understand the concept of how important public safety is to people,” Sylvester said. “We all saw the shooting and are deeply troubled by it, but that doesn’t negate the need for public safety.”
That’s right: public safety! It’s very,very important to voters and Democrats need to show they’re 100 percent on the right side of this issue. That means denunciations of violence and looting can’t just be an afterthought to support of the current movement against police brutality. It has to be front and center and if that means incurring the wrath of some activists, BLM leaders and Twitter denizens, so be it. This election is too important to be held hostage to the actions of small groups of radicals whose tactics and illiberal ideology are toxic to the progressive cause. Time for Democrats to break out of the trap.