Being just a year into the Trump Presidency, one can question the exigence of preparing for the 2020 election this early in the game. That said, politics is a marathon, and rumblings have already emerged on potential candidates for the 2020 election, a long two and a half years away from this month.
The Democratic Party, despite united in their efforts against President Trump’s agenda, is polarized at the moment and unprecedentedly so. The party is increasingly youthful and diverse—which is a good thing—but with a more youthful base comes consequences. The party is undoubtedly more left than ever, leading to Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders’ success in the 2016 presidential primary and Elizabeth Warren’s budding popularity. It will make for an interesting road ahead, and one that President Trump could easily exploit if the Democrats don’t play it right. There are two crucial facts that Democrats must come to realize about the current status quo and upcoming election alike; the first of which being that the primary is almost certain to be crowded and rather messy.
The Democrats have many capable, talented politicians who likely see 2020 as an opportunity to emerge, just as then rising star Barack Obama did in 2008. Young prospective candidates like Kamala Harris and Jason Kander will see a chance to enthrall politically active young voters, while Warren and Sanders, mentioned above, could capitalize on young voters’ positively towards their quasi-socialist economic policies. But with a crowded field of candidates comes a chance for even more polarization and the desperate need for a uniter to band the party together.
The second vital thing that Democrats must realize is that President Trump is not an ideologist. Rather, Trump is a brash, talented politician who brilliantly adapts on issues that can ensure his political success. Despite being a prominent immigration reform advocate in the early 2000’s while simultaneously supporting key Democrats, 2016 Trump embraced the nativist rush which his base overwhelming supported. Therefore, to counter Trump with an ideologist—or someone who is successful politically because of policy over personality—would be an unsuccessful strategy. This is why Joe Biden is the perfect option for the Democrats in 2020.
I, personally, am still convinced that Biden would have won the election in 2016. But with the tragic death of his son, Beau, Biden conceded that he couldn’t fully emotionally commit to the election. Yet despite the many tragic events of Joe Biden’s life, he has ventured on. A 36-year career in the US Senate followed by 8 years as the Vice President has proved Biden’s toughness to carry on and commitment to real relationships in Washington. But there’s a keyword that encapsulates why Biden is the correct and most sensible choice for Democrats in 2020: Charisma.
Charisma is a term that is easy to identify but difficult to define. When you see charisma in a politician, you know it, but it can be tough to explicitly define it. What makes ‘Uncle Joe’ so special is not just his clear charisma, but also his willingness to speak his mind no matter the circumstances. Whether it’s claiming that Trump “doesn’t have a clue” or that he “might actually be stupid,” these are traits that have seemingly gone extinct in modern politics and are traits that guaranteed Trump success in the past election. But this is the most imperative reason of why Biden would be so special, and likewise successful, against President Trump.
There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton is better educated and perhaps smarter than ‘Middle-Class Joe,’ but her personality and realness did not mesh well against Trump in 2016, and Trump used that to his advantage and won. Biden’s brashness, realness, extensive political experience, and attachment to middle-class workers would give an instantaneous connection to the Middle American voters in which Trump is attempting to con.
There are legitimate and fair concerns regarding Biden in 2020, specifically his age (74) and moderate views which don’t reflect the party’s leftist shift. But I ask those who cite these reasons to read this Politico Feature: “Joe Biden’s Platform for 2020: Anti-Populism.”
Their points are simple: with the likely crowded field of leftist and populist candidates in the Democratic primary, Biden can use this to his advantage and get to the threshold he needs by criticizing Trumpists and Bernie Bros alike. While no candidate is perfect—especially in today’s Democratic Party—Biden brings charisma and experience to the table that would counter Trump beautifully in the main election, but only if he can get past the inevitable messy primary.
There is a key video from just weeks before the last election which provides a case study of Biden’s charisma and hopeful 2020 success. The infamous ‘Trump Tape’ had just emerged, and those on the left and right were quick to condemn. But Biden’s response was different: it was scolding, powerful, and emotionally charged. He offered the following words to the silent crowd:
“What he did and does is the textbook definition of sexual assault. But it’s more than that. Because I’m famous. Because I’m a star. Because I’m a millionaire. I can do things other people can’t.”
Lastly, Biden unleashed, “What a disgusting assertion for anyone to make!”
Most of all other politicians wouldn’t offer the same emotional message that Biden did. And that’s what makes ‘Uncle Joe’ so special.