Former Vice President Joe Biden has solidified his place as the likely democratic presidential nominee after substantial primary victories that gave him a large delegate lead over his main opponent, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.
Biden’s success in the primaries represents a greater ideological victory for the democratic establishment. Their agenda is decidedly more centrist than the social democratic movement the Sanders campaign represents.
While it is clear that this insurgency within the Democratic Party has failed in this election, it is of paramount importance that the democratic nominee attempt to appeal to Sanders voters in the general election.
The democratic candidate for president must excite the electorate with popular polices and a clear vision for the future of the United States. Thus far, Biden has failed to do this and has actively alienated the left-wing of his party.
Biden’s rejection of strong social programs is enough to turn away a large portion of Sanders voters. In a recent interview, Biden stated that if “Medicare for All” were to pass the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, he would veto it as president.
This is an extremely unpopular position to take and insults the voters who believe in this policy. On Super Tuesday, despite Biden winning 10 of 14 contests, every state had majority support for “Medicare for All.” This makes Biden’s comments troubling for his general election prospects.
This comes with a myriad of policies that directly go against what any strongly left-leaning individual would support. Biden is against legalizing marijuana, cancelling student debt and making public colleges tuition-free. In the past, he fought to cut social programs. He also voted for the Iraq war. This should be completely unacceptable for a candidate running for the democratic nomination.
In Biden’s own words, “nothing will fundamentally change,” if he were to become president.
Ignoring the demands of the left and appealing to moderate voters is the same strategy that Hillary Clinton employed in her 2016 presidential campaign.
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer famously said of that race that, “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”
Obviously, this approach catastrophically failed, and the election resulted in the lowest voter turnout in 20 years. Joe Biden, unfortunately, seems to be going down the same path.
Biden must make an attempt to earn the votes of progressives. While the left theoretically has nowhere to go besides the Democratic Party, Biden cannot take these votes for granted. High voter turnout is key to avoiding the mistakes of 2016. It’s important in defeating President Donald Trump in the general election. This is impossible without exciting this key sector of the democratic base.
The easiest way to do this is to walk back some of more conservative positions and choose a progressive as his vice president. While this would not quell all of the left’s concerns, it will give them a real reason to vote for Biden.
If Biden were to pick an unabashed moderate as his vice president, it would likely create a serious challenge in connecting with the left-wing of the Democratic Party.