Former Vice President Joe Biden was described as a “moderate” during the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primary. But he has had to adopt radical policies to consolidate support, and he shares the far left’s vision of transforming the country.
The media’s “fact-checkers” will contest the idea that Biden’s approach is “socialist.” Last July, when President Donald Trump said, “A vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream,” the New York Times countered: “But what does it mean to be a socialist — and to what degree do Democrats fit the definition?”
The Times continued: “First things first: All Democrats are not socialists. Most Democrats are not socialists. Of the 24 candidates for president, only Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont identifies himself as a democratic socialist. … The rest of the presidential field has rejected the socialism label.”
But rejecting the socialism “label” — which is still politically toxic to many voters, especially older ones — does not mean rejecting socialism. Substantively and ideologically, there is no longer much difference between Biden and his main, “democratic socialist” rival, who endorsed him earlier this month.
Biden has embraced a version of the socialist “Green New Deal” and the goal of eliminating fossil fuels. He has changed his mind on the Hyde Amendment, and now wants federal taxpayers to fund abortions. He has adopted parts of the “free college” plan proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). He promises to raise taxes on Day One.
In foreign policy, Biden has welcomed backing from the radical J Street group, which opposes most pro-Israel policies. The only “moderate” thing about Biden is that he wants “Medicare for All” to be a choice, instead of a requirement — and even that difference it seems, is negotiable.
Biden has also echoed the left’s call to use the coronavirus as an opportunity to make sweeping changes in American society. And how could he not? Biden ran on the same ticket as Barack Obama in 2008, who told voters his goal was “fundamentally transforming” America, and whose incoming chief of staff infamously said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”
During a virtual fundraiser on Tuesday, Biden said that the coronavirus crisis had made him “excited,” because it had taken the “blinders” off Americans and showed them the “institutional changes we can make.” Other Democrats have been saying the same thing for weeks. Rep. James Clybrun (D-SC) called the first relief bill “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the crisis was an “opportunity for reimagining a [more] progressive era as it [relates] to capitalism.” The left sees the massive federal spending, and the broad state powers, that Americans accept in an emergency as the model to follow even in “normal” times. To the left, “normal” is an emergency.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has filled in skate parks and encouraged residents to “snitch” on one another, said as much in his “State of the City” address on Sunday: “We must ask of our city and our nation, at this time, is normal really what we want to come back to?”
After all, he said, “normal” involved inequality, and (theoretically) immigration laws, and “climate catastrophe.” The implication: if all we did was restore the status quo ante, it would almost not be worth recovering.
Contrast that to what President Trump has told the nation: that America will “emerge from this challenge stronger and more unified than ever before.” Trump agrees with the left that we can make the country better than it was. But he does not agree that it was bad at the start. On the contrary: Trump says we had “the greatest economy in the history of the world,” and will do so again. For Garcetti et al., we had been living in an “unjust world,” and must commit to “long term change” to recover.
Biden promised Sanders that his would be “one of the most progressive administrations since Roosevelt.” He did not say whether he meant FDR or Theodore — both “progressives.”
In his First Inaugural, FDR said he wanted “broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency” of the Great Depression. Trump, too, has called the fight against coronavirus a “war” — but he has delegated and deregulated, rather than using the crisis as an opportunity to expand his own powers.
For Biden and the Democrats, the coronavirus pandemic has provided a political opportunity — to negate Trump’s record on the economy, and to argue that he failed to stop the threat. But it has also “excited” them about the prospect of “institutional changes” without having to call them “socialist.”
Biden called charges of socialism “malarkey.” But he keeps moving left, rather than pivoting to the center.
Sanders lost the primary, but won the debate. Joe Biden has kept socialism on the ballot.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.