16 July 2020
by J.R. Thomas
Let’s start with Joe Biden, no longer a follower-on, far from it. He’s leading in the polls and maybe in the battle of ideas, such as it is this time round. Joe has been shaking off the Trumpian “Sleepy Joe” slur by rushing about, wearing a facemask, and getting down on one knee at frequent intervals – and more to the point maybe, getting up unaided. That is giving him a good run at the moment, but whether it will do him any good come November is not so clear.
It’s not just gesture politics that he is espousing; he has even set about stealing Mr Trump’s clothes, by announcing a “Buy America” programme to get America moving again post Covid-19 by spending US$700bn. Sorry, not spending; that’s what you and I do; investing is what governments do and a Biden administration will invest $300bn in new technology and $400bn in government needed services and items. “So what?” you may think, but there is a special angle to this; this money is all to be spent on USA made services and products, and the tag “Made in the USA” will be tightened up to make sure they really are.
That is a skilful, well aimed, and neatly headlined pledge, and Mr B. underlined the hardball by making his speech and pledge in a steelworks in Scranton, Pennsylvania. That was aiming two darts at the President – Scranton is where Joe was born, not, it is true, a working class lad, but from a family severely blighted by the Depression; and Scranton is the sort of town where Mr Trump draws, or drew last time, a lot of support from former Democrat working class voters suffering economic pressures and a feeling of abandonment. Somehow Joe has to bind together two core constituencies, the black vote, and the poor vote. So far he is doing very well with the black vote, his term of office with Obama and his long-term support for positive minority action sealing his popularity there. Now he is clearly aiming at those who should be natural Democrat supporters and doing it thoughtfully. He is ahead nationally in the opinion polls and at least for this week we will not rain on his parade by pointing out that Mrs Clinton was further ahead in 2016.
But this new pushy Joe has got one job to do that is becoming strangely delayed; he has to nominate a Vice Presidential running mate. That was said to be imminent several weeks ago, but now the Biden team have announced that this will happen in early August. We already know that it is to be a woman. That does not narrow it down much and indeed the delay is widening the search out; new candidates impress the power brokers, or the Democrat Party, or the public, and a list that maybe had perhaps only three serious names on it now has a dozen or so. The latest is Senator Tammy Duckworth, a senator for Illinois who ticks so many boxes that the only surprise is she was un-noted before: former serving Army helicopter pilot who lost both legs in action, mixed heritage (Thai/American), middle of the road in Democrat philosophy terms, sensible, articulate, and long-term supporter of Joe. We will also mention (space restricts consideration of the full dozen) Gretchen Whitmore, Governor of Michigan, forceful, energetic, and so far, a successful and popular Governor. She says she likes being Governor of her state; but she would, wouldn’t she? And our former hot tip, Kamala Harris of California? There have mentions recently of her mixed record in California and her nasty attacks on Mr Biden when running her own Presidential bid in the early part of the campaign. Those mentions may just be coming from the Biden camp. Which makes her our former hot tip. Though still with a good chance, you may surmise.
We will now move on. No, not to The Donald; this is the first and last mention for him this time though he is not forgotten, and not, we provocatively say, out of the running yet, indeed, looking better than he has for a while. Nor, for you music and reality TV fans, to Kanye West, who we decline to give any publicity until he actually signs the nomination papers. No free advertising here, sir. But on to the Green Party, and to the Libertarians.
The Green Party after a long series of debates and forums, chose their candidate before they even held their convention last week. Chad Hawkins emerged as the early and overwhelming green peoples choice, such that by the 20th June he had the majority required for the nomination, and finally ended up with a tally of 205 delegates against 98 for the main other contender Dario Hunter. Also ran: David Rolde, who scored 5 delegates. Rather remarkably in such a day and for such a party, all three runners can be characterised as white, male, and middle aged. But to prove that diversity is about us in all things they thereafter break the usual mould of Presidential candidates. Mr Hunter was a Muslim from Newark, New Jersey, who is gay and has converted to Judaism and become a rabbi. Mr Hawkins is from New York, began political life as anti-nuclear protestor and trade unionist, has run 24 times for political office but without success, and until his recent retirement worked nights for UPS unloading trucks. He bears a striking resemblance to Jeremy Corbyn (I am hoping my Corbynista colleague will start Diary of a Hawkinsista). David Rolde is from Massachusetts, describes President Eisenhower as “a war criminal” and wants to abolish the US military in its entirety. Maybe next time sir.
In 2016 the Green’s won just over 1% of the national vote, (over 3% in California) their best result ever in a Presidential election; they may struggle to better that this time. Last time out the Libertarian Party won over 3% nationally, after at one point showing at 9% in opinion polls. They too may struggle to improve on that this time. Last time they were led by Gary Johnson, a former Governor of New Mexico, with as his running mate William Weld, ex Governor of Massachusetts, a heavy weight and nationally recognisable team. This time the Libertarians have chosen Jo Jorgensen, from Libertyville, Illinois. She is a lecturer in psychology living in South Caroline and also has never held political office in spite of various attempts. Her running mate is Spike Cohen, a native of Baltimore. At this point your columnist repeats the cautious prediction that the Libertarian Party may struggle this time. Mr Cohen was the runner up in the battle for nomination, after starting off as the running mate of aspirant Vermin Supreme. Their platform promised Free Ponies, Mandatory Teeth Brushing, and Zombie Power, amongst other enticing suggestions, promising to resign in favour of Baby Yoda if they did not achieve this within 100 days of achieving office. After Mr Supreme (who often wears a wellington boot as a hat and won his home state of Massachusetts’s nomination for his Libertarian presidential candidacy) withdrew from the contest, Mr Cohen said that this had just been a series of jokes to gain publicity. Mr Yoda seems to have made no comment on this abuse of his franchise. And we will make no further comment on their chances for success this fall.