One candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination is currently riding a wave of momentum. He has shown an ability to drive high turnout, appeal to diverse groups of voters and run on a platform that would make him the Democrats’ most progressive nominee in decades. That candidate is former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden has an extensive record of public service, bold vision for our country and, most importantly, the ability to beat President Donald Trump in November. For these reasons, Biden should be the Democratic nominee for president.
Several weeks ago, it seemed unlikely that any of the above descriptors would apply to Biden, as his campaign faced disappointing fourth- and fifth-place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively. However, with recent victories in racially diverse South Carolina, a myriad of Super Tuesday states and delegate-rich Michigan, Biden has clearly established himself as the best candidate to reassemble the coalition that twice elected former President Barack Obama. By driving African American turnout and winning back white working-class voters who swung states like Michigan and Wisconsin to Trump in 2016, Biden can likely win the presidency in November. He is the clear choice in a primary where Democratic voters’ chief concern is electability.
Once elected, any Democratic president will likely be faced with a Republican-controlled or narrowly divided Senate. Biden’s close personal relationships with senators from both parties and years of experience navigating the legislative process make him the ideal candidate to push the Democratic agenda — which includes paid family leave, universal health care coverage and a higher minimum wage — through Congress. During Biden’s 30-plus years in the Senate, he sponsored 23 pieces of successful legislation. His opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has successfully sponsored just two over his 14-year tenure.
Biden’s proposals combine boldness with realism, ensuring they can accomplish progressive goals while attracting the broad support necessary to pass them. For example, Biden’s health care plan would guarantee affordable health care for all Americans while allowing those who like their current health care plan to keep it. Polling has found that 70% of independent voters support Biden’s plan adding a public health insurance option, compared to less than 40% for Sanders’ “Medicare for All” replacing all private health care coverage. This support would likely make the difference in allowing Democrats to pass a proposal guaranteeing millions of Americans health insurance.
One knock on Biden as a candidate is that he represents a mere continuation of the Obama administration, which some progressives have labeled insufficiently liberal. However, these critics ignore the reality that Obama’s accomplishments were made possible entirely through pragmatism and non-rigid ideologism. By building support from liberal Democrats, moderates and independents alike, Obama was able to institute sweeping reforms to our health care, financial and immigration systems that still positively impact the lives of millions of Americans. As Obama’s vice president, Biden is well-positioned to continue building upon the Obama administration’s legacy and to inspire a new generation of Democrats that has been recently shut out by the Republican-controlled Senate and White House.
As the U.S. faces a range of threats from the novel coronavirus pandemic to income inequality, strong and steady leadership is required. The next president must both deliver needed change and restore America’s global leadership and reputation. Biden’s experience and vision make him the right person for this job and the best choice for the Democratic nominee to take on Trump in November.
Andrew Kliewer (20C) is from Dallas.
He is a member of the Wheel’s Editorial Board.