Only one word can describe what I saw and felt this week: Whoa.
After months and months of a democratic stalemate, the Democrats finally kicked off their actual presidential primary this past Super Tuesday, the atomic bomb of primary elections. From coast to coast, 14 states and territories were poised for the plucking, and seven ravenous racers seemed ready to turn 2020 into a blue-colored bloodbath: a socialist seeking revenge, a former right-hand-man grasping for survival, a billionaire flower primed to bloom, another billionaire yearning to make his millions worth it, a former gold medaling governor hoping for a comeback, a Massachusetts senator scheming up a Foxborough from-behind, and a Minnesota senator attempting to make up for lost time (and votes).
In retrospect, it seemed all but certain that the only repeat challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), would win enough delegates to leave his fellow feuders in the dust and firmly clutch the nomination – and the establishment’s pearls while he’s at it. Or, it could have been former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose wealth and well-to-do staff over the 14 states made the Galactic Empire from Star Wars look small by comparison. Either way, Uncle Joe Biden looked to be on his last legs, drowning in a sea of younger wannabes from the West Side of the country.
But, man, what a week can do.
On Saturday, despite the teeth-clattering predictions of the South Carolina battlefield, it was Biden, not Bernie, who not only survived the struggle, but thrived by a nearly 30-point margin, earning him a much-needed 39 delegate surge while Sanders snatched up the remaining 15.
The next day, Tom Steyer, who outspend his rivals by tens of millions of dollars but hilariously underperformed in South Carolina by tens of thousands of votes, dropped out of the race.
The next day, Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend mayor who won Iowa and scored second in New Hampshire, dropped out of the race.
The next day, Amy Klobuchar, whose bronze medal in the Granite State failed to materialize more than seven delegates, dropped out of the race.
The next day, the headwinds that were blasting Biden before suddenly transformed into tailwinds that trounced Sanders in all but Vermont, California and Colorado.
And all that brings us to the present, and my four takeaways from these latest contests: the re-establishment of the establishment, the people’s revolt against the “revolution,” Bloomberg’s folly, and my culminative change of heart.
First, it’s rather fitting that The Atlantic called their Super Tuesday post-game “The Establishment Strikes Back,” because that’s exactly what happened. It’s like, all at once, the moderate and centrist coalitions found a way to wake up Joe’s previously sleepy campaign and convince most of the other moderates in the race to coalesce around their former savior’s second-in-command, a reliable traditionalist who inspires both normalcy and a complete 180 to the current reign of Donald Trump. And for a party that wanted to battle extreme insanity with sedated predictability, Biden was the only sensible choice with a sufficiently strong (even if flawed) resume compared to the likes of Buttigieg and Klobuchar, as well as the backing of African-American voters in several southern contests. He may be another old white man running for the White House in 2020, but, then again, so is the alternative.
The alternative, meanwhile, brings me to my second point: What “revolution?” After four years of planning and plotting, the mass pro-Sanders tidal wave sunk faster than the Lusitania. Yes, he won California and Vermont, home to the biggest prize of Super Tuesday and the necessary win to be taken seriously as a candidate (as opposed to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who has vowed to stay put despite obtaining third place in her home state), as well as Colorado. But the fact of the matter comes down to young voters – the supposed drivers of Bernie’s platform – and they simply did not show up in the waves that Sanders hoped for. The New York Times is reporting, for instance, that only 15 percent of voters were under the age of 30 in Texas, the second-richest state of the night and home to a strong Biden win, thanks to the two-thirds of the state’s electorate that aged 45 or older.
In fact, per the Times: “In no state did people younger than 30 account for more than 20 percent of the electorate, based on exit polls, and in most states they accounted for 15 percent or less…Because so few young people voted, it did not matter that Mr. Sanders won them by huge margins, because Mr. Biden won the much more plentiful older voters.”
That lack of participation just cannot look good for a candidate who thrives on a more active voter base. But even then, Sanders still had a much better night than Bloomberg.
Just like how money cannot by love, money cannot by votes: Just look at Steyer’s failure in South Carolina, or Donald Trump’s 2016 election despite possessing a smaller war chest than Hillary Clinton. But Bloomberg was determined to prove that fable wrong, attempting to be the “good” Donald Trump and a more mentally reliable version of Biden, all while sinking a million dollars in Facebook ads and nearly one billion more in door knockers, television trailers and YouTube aggravations.
And what did that reward him with? A first-place win in American Samoa and four of its delegates, and a scattering of delegates in other mainland states. The irony of this win is hilariously rich: Despite winning only 53 delegates after the smoke cleared, each delegate cost at least $8 million according to sources like the Chicago Sun-Times, making them both valuable and invaluable at the same time. Thus, it did not surprise me when I read that Bloomberg dropped out and endorsed Biden; at least I can rest now knowing that the other 99 percent of his looming net worth can be used on a more viable candidate – consider it an alternative to the alternative.
At least, I would be able to rest if the race was not so close. Sanders and Biden are now just 50 delegates and change apart from one another, and any one week could put one of them over the edge. Either way, this stressful test of momentum will only be the beginning of the race, as Milwaukee will spit out one of them to face the wrath of Trump this November and determine whether the incumbent is worthy of a second term.
And after months of pondering it over, I strongly believe he is not.
As I have watched the last four years of the Trump presidency, I have become disillusioned with what I once believed would be a good new kind of president, one separated from the poison of archaic political structures and a realization of how government should operate. He promised to fight the “swamp” and transform America’s distrust in government into passionate support for his maverick ideas and approach. Instead, he has become the “swamp,” bringing out the worst of the Washington machine and miring the Republican party with debilitating racism, an antipathy towards compromise, a toxic ferocity towards those who dare to hold them accountable for their actions, and an agenda that all leads back to fueling America’s modern-day equivalent to Narcissus, a demonic being whose whole existence depends on lifting himself up while weighing everyone else down. The party of Reagan, Bush and Lincoln has, for the time being, become the party of antediluvian border walls, Twitter rants and over 16,000 lies and counting.
And to those lies, I offer an alternative, absolute truth: President Joe Biden.
Biden’s resurgence as a first-rate contender has comforted me, not because he is a presidential frontrunner in the mold of every American president sans Obama, but because he offers the best of both worlds: the revival of an American political community that thrives on compromise and moderation, and the rise of a system that respects and hears out the voices of all Americans, regardless of race, gender or other characteristics. He offers a middle ground between two extreme political revolutions, one fueled by a contempt for tradition and one fueled by a contempt for alternative points of view altogether.
Biden, like me, wants the one-percent to earn a living but not allow them to keep 40 percent of the nation’s wealth; he wants to improve border screening and welcome those seeking genuine protection from countries whose freedoms can be counted on one hand, not deprive economic growth through an ineffective and incomplete wall; he wants to fully realize the middle class as an actual class of ordinary Americans, not just a divider between the ultra-poor and stupid-rich.
In other words, we both want America to be reasonable, serve all the people, and not give in to political vices or dissipations, no matter how many likes they get online.
Now, to be clear, the Democrats have not “converted” me; they have not gotten me on board with all their beliefs. I still believe in fiscal conservativism and capitalistic superiority, and in the power and necessity of self-reliance and not allowing the government to hold everyone’s hands throughout life through excessive welfare programs or entitlements. I still strongly encourage a mighty military backing and in spreading American ideals around the world, even if it results in a battle or two along the way.
Should another reasonable Republican come around, I will undoubtedly return. But for now, the man who occupies the Oval Office matters more than ever, and should Joe Biden prevail in Milwaukee and keep his Super Tuesday momentum alive, I will be more than willing to become an Independent voter, grab a blue ballot and cast my vote for a saner America.