Here’s why I’m shifting to Biden.
(Originally a twitter thread: https://twitter.com/czedwards/status/1235701963683016704?s=21 )
At this point, I care WAY more about Congress, state and local elections. We can’t afford to lose any seats, and we have to flip state houses & governors. We’ve got redistricting coming up. We can’t afford a midterm slump in 2022, either.
That means we need to have someone good at coalition building, who gets the 50 state strategy. Team player. And that has never been Bernie, not once in his life. It’s not how he works, not how he views politics.
Bernie’s a bomb thrower. He’s most effective when he’s on the outside, holding ground for the left flank of the Overton window. He’s only got a 20% pass rate on his legislative amendments, and his amendments were the first to get cut. Doesn’t make him a bad man, just an outsider. (And we need this push from the outside.)
Historically, and internationally, outsider candidates don’t make good executives, because they’ve spent so much of their time being against the machine, they’ve never learned to operate the machine. And government is an enormous machine that kills when not run well.
We have lost ground, in terms of rights and civil liberties; in international standing; in our very sense of security. What we all want, at least at an emotional level, is to not have to worry about how our government is fucking over someone. We’re never getting that back.
In geriatrics care, the goal when someone checks into a hospital or rehab unit is for the patient to leave with the same level of function. That goal is aspirational. Most people do lose some muscle mass, cognitive function, or both. We’ve been in the hospital for 37 months.
I wish we could pick back up where we were on January 16, 2017, but there’s a whack of a lot of legislation we have to unpick; we have a massive legislative task in that we have to codify all of the norms we just took for granted. And a gigantic criminal investigation. And overlapping infrastructure problems.
We have lost function, and we have to rebuild it, not just leap over it. We are traumatized. All of us. One of the steps for recovery will be if we see justice done, and that’s got to be the biggest question going forward for both candidates. We need Truth & Reconciliation, not pretending it didn’t happen.
Neither Biden nor Sanders have made strong stands on this, and I don’t actually trust either one to manage it well. Biden’s been mushy, and Bernie is laser focused on pushing onwards. But ask anyone who ever tried to push through an injury how that worked.
It’s like we’re on a remote trail together, us and Bernie & Joe. We rolled our ankle. Bernie keeps telling us there’s a great water fall and first aid station just two hills over; Joe didn’t see us stumble so he’s oblivious. Neither of these are ideal.
Bernie’s not wrong — we can’t stay on the trail while we wait for an ankle to heal. We have to go forward to the waterfall & first aid. But we can’t go in the condition we’re in. And it won’t get better pretending it didn’t happen.
But there is an option. There’s a big machine by the side of the trail. Think janky old bulldozer or snowcat, something that Monkeywrenchers have Molotov cocktailed. It’s not in good shape, and Bernie admits that he might know something about those Molotov cocktails. (I’m very specifically talking about Bernie’s antipathy towards the Democratic Party, and my uncertainty of his position on the concept of whether federal law is a ceiling or a floor, and where states and sovereigns come into that.)
But the machine will run. It’s not going to be easy, and it’s going to be dangerous. We need it to do things it wasn’t intended to do, things it couldn’t do before the damage. Joe’s pretty sure he can get it running, and has driven one before.
(Personally, I want any of the people with the first aid kits, but y’all have been voting them off the island.) So the question is: we have this machine. It will not run right, not right now. It’s been badly damaged, too. Who is better at driving it?
At this point, I think that’s Joe. I’m not happy about it, and we will ALL have to hold him in the fire until he promises (and follows through with) criminal investigations, but we know we can get that from him, because now’s he’s got an M4A plan. It’s not great, but it’s better than it was. He can be moved.
Bernie, on the other hand? It’s taken 4.5 years to get him to make a mealy mouthed reprimand of his supporters. He’s never apologized for the rape fantasy article. (That needs to happen.) He sees race & misogyny as offshoots of class warfare, & so minimizes them, because he’s never experienced them. (And his failure to reprimand his supporters is strategic — please see this article that explains the 30% strategy. https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/3/5/1924709/-Bernie-s-grievance-politics-consolidated-the-left-to-a-30-losing-minority)
And recently? His attacks on the media can be sung to the Fake News tune. The automated, small dollar donations are a big problem. The not a PAC but acts like a PAC (Our Revolution) is a big problem. And the fact that Russia sees him as a chaos agent & Trump wants to run against him... Big problems.
Simple rule of thumb here: if Trump wants it, it’s probably bad for democracy and everyone who isn’t named Trump. More importantly: I’m not seeing local & state election coat tails with Bernie. His movement isn’t paying attention to District Attorney elections or State house reps.
And his supporters are not voting in down ballot races — we saw this in 2016, where a county would have 500K presidential votes and 150K for County Board of Supervisors. There was a correlation. (If you need to understand why County government matters — please go watch Trials of Gabriel Fernandez.)
Local government matters WAY, WAY, WAY more to daily quality of life and your access to your civil rights. Your county clerk determines if, how & where you vote. Your County Sheriff sets policing policy & culture, because most cops get their first job at the county level. (See: Joe Arpaio & Maricopa County)
Gentrification? That’s your town & county giving incentives & declaring blight. Churches proselytizing to your kids at school? That’s your school board. Potholes? City Council. Access to vaccines without insurance? County Public Health department. This stuff matters.
And down ballot often means voting for someone who is kinda moderate. Local elections are not the place to trot out your purity pony, because seriously, whooping cough doesn’t give a single fuck about IMF policy, weed legalization, or even property tax structure.
Bernie would have been okay in 2016, because we were in a better place then. The fact that he hasn’t recognized how much damage we’ve taken since then is one reason he’s never been my candidate. Joe does realize it, and that knowledge is unspeakably valuable.
I might change my mind, but here’s what it would take: Bernie takes a strong stand on his supporters being abusive. He would need to get very granular – knock it off with the snakes, for example. Bring Warren — and her plans — on board. Because Bernie has ideas, not plans. He needs a detail person. More listening, less shouting. That last? I should also ask for a pony.