Bankole: Can Biden unseat President Trump? We’ll see

Bankole Thompson

After Tuesday’s primary, it’s no question that former Vice President Joe Biden will become the Democratic nominee. The issue now is whether he can unseat President Donald Trump in November.

Democrats terrified by the prospect of Trump winning a second term put all their eggs in Biden’s basket, believing him to be most electable.

Despite his record, which includes leading the support for measures such as the 1994 crime bill which has had adverse impact on African Americans, Biden still received a significant portion of the black vote in the primaries that have taken place.

“I like Joe Biden because he served as vice president to President Barack Obama,” said 65-year-old Detroiter Cliff Chambers, who voted for Biden. “He looks like a down-to-earth person, and he doesn’t want to take away the Affordable Care Act.” 

Chambers, who attended Biden’s rally at Renaissance High School on the eve of the primary, said even though he liked Bernie Sanders and his push for Medicare for all and student loan forgiveness, the former vice president still seemed to him a more suitable candidate.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, March 10, 2020.

But winning in the general election is going to take more than a primary upset to make that a reality. Biden is going to need a Democratic coalition that is reminiscent of the unprecedented 2008 campaign that catapulted Obama to the presidency.

If Democratic powerbrokers fail to convince the Sanders wing of the party to support the ticket, and if Sanders’ disappointed supporters sit out the election, it could spell trouble for Democrats.

“Will I vote for the man whose signature bill catapulted mass incarceration, offers no path to free college or student debt forgiveness, and no protections against corporate bullying?” asked Elnora Gavin, an activist from Benton Harbor. “Biden more recently came to my hometown and practically endorsed Republican Congressman Fred Upton who votes alongside Trump on most issues." 

Gavin is referring to a speech that Biden gave during the 2018 midterm election in Benton Harbor before the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan in which he praised Upton as “one of the finest guys I’ve ever worked with.” He reportedly received $200,000 from the business group, which also receives financial support from the Upton family foundation. 

“Therefore, I can not guarantee that I will vote for him,” Gavin said. “Given Biden’s history, I cannot say that I trust him to do the right thing even if he picks a black superhero as his VP.”

Gavin says Sanders’ campaign resonated with the working poor. 

“The everyday people lost. Much of our daily struggles are connected to a policy idea that Bernie Sanders addresses. But if voters do not move away from these status quo candidates, the average American will continue to hit that wall and wonder why,” Gavin said.

“Although Sanders did not have a legitimate black agenda, his policy ideas were liberating enough that we could have established some local workaround to press for progressive change in spite of his shortcomings.” 

bankole@bankolethompson.com

Twitter: @BankoleDetNews

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