Bernie versus Biden. It’s not an easy choice, even for progressives

If we were judging only on their ideas and proposals, I would make a strong recommendation that every Democrat give their primary or caucus vote to Bernie Sanders. Biden, like Bill Clinton and Obama, is a conservative Democrat who has always been too quick to give away the store to Republicans, whereas for decades Sanders has taken progressive stands (which usually means the position backed by the facts) on war, equality of wealth, education, the environment, taxing the wealthy and healthcare. Used to being a strident voice from the back bench, Sanders has not developed his policies as much as Elizabeth Warren has (who has?), but his ideas are stirring and right-minded.

But there’s more to deciding between two candidates than where their hearts lie. Two other factors are of equal, and perhaps greater importance in the current election: One, who is more likely to beat Trump? Two, who is more likely to accomplish the wish list of progressives and left-leaners?

Surveys show just about every candidate beating Trump, but Bernie having the biggest lead. If we carefully analyze the Super Tuesday results, however, we get a different picture. Across the board, the more likely a Democrat will win the state in November, the better Bernie did on Super Tuesday; the more likely Trump will win the state, the better Biden did. It’s very possible that Bernie’s lead over Trump is greater than the other candidates’ in the national surveys because he got more votes in California and New York. So what would we progressive rather see? A candidate win California by 4 million votes and lose North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida and Wisconsin by a total of 100,000 votes OR a candidate win California by 3 million and also win these important swing states.

As far as the campaign goes, there can be no doubt that Bernie destroys Biden as both a debater and a speechifier. There is also no doubt that Bernie carries more real baggage. The Trump campaign will inundate social media with lies and exaggerations about either candidate. But whereas the Hunter Burisma scandal is made up, Bernie Sanders really has said he was a socialist and he really is a Jew. As a Jewish socialist, I personally identify with Bernie, but understand that many people hate and fear both. Most candidates have scandals and dubious relatives. Few have won as socialists. The very label turns off the dying breed called “moderate Republicans.” Several of the swing states have long histories of fringe and not-so-fringe anti-Semitism. 

I have no idea who is more likely to beat Trump.

But I am reasonably confident that whichever of the B Boys the Dems select, if elected he will get just about the same things done. As I’ve written before, both will move quickly to reverse Trump’s dangerous loosening of environmental and safety regulations. Both will bring competence and science back to government. Both will rebuild bridges with our allies. Both will appoint left-leaning judges. Both will have much less power than Nancy Pelosi when it comes to drafting and passing legislation. 

There are a number of other similarities between the candidates. Both are in the late 70’s with a history of health problems. More significantly, both are likely to name a woman who is a minority as his running mate. Thus, the election of either Biden or Bernie will likely lead to the first woman president.

What to do? Who to pick?

I’ve thought about it a long time, and I’ve decided to do whatever Liz does. Elizabeth Warren, far more competent, experienced, organized and dynamic than either of the B’s, will crunch the numbers and weight the arguments with the very highest level of intellectual rigor and heartfelt empathy for all Americans. Her decision will reflect what she thinks is best for the country. I trust Warren, more than I’ve trusted any presidential candidate since Clean Gene McCarthy.

If Liz endorses Bernie, I’ll support Bernie.

If Liz endorses Biden or decides to make no endorsement, then I’ll support Biden. My reasoning: her ideas are so close to Bernie’s that staying silent is really a nod towards Biden.

Let me close by expressing my disappointment on how the Democratic race has gone. At the beginning of the campaign, I made a list of how I ranked the two dozen or so candidates and found 14 competent to be president (Beto and America’s favorite small town mayor did not make the cut). Warren was first on my list, followed by Inslee. Sanders (because of age and baggage) was 10th and Biden 14th, or the lowest rated of the 14 who made the competence cut. Very disappointing. But either of the B Boys will still better than the ignorant, racist sociopathic and venal autocrat now roaming the White House.

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