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Should Biden be the one?

In carrying out his obligation as a Democratic candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden on April 14. Although Biden has not yet reached the magic number of 1,991 delegates, he now has a clear shot at becoming the party’s candidate for the presidency.

Before the 2020 campaign even got underway, voices were heard in the nation’s capital bemoaning the likelihood that Sanders would walk away with the party’s nomination and then win the election against Trump. These fears were not unfounded. For it was Sanders, not Biden, who showed in poll after poll — 60 of them since 2016 —that he would beat Trump by a larger percentage than any other Democrat.

However, the Democratic National Committee and the party’s leadership in Congress knew that with a Sanders’ presidency their chances of holding on to the reins of power would be slim. If push came to shove, even a Trump reelection would be better than having Bernie in the White House.

The objective of our nation’s oligarchs has been to make sure that each major party nominated a person who could be relied upon to look after their interests. Trump vs. Biden satisfies that requirement.

These wealthy elites have not gotten behind the “beat Trump” mantra of the Democrats because they are not unhappy with Trump. He has gotten them what they wanted — a handsome tax cut and now another bailout. He has taken the U.S. out of the nuclear agreement with Iran, opening up the possibility of a war over oil with that country, and has withdrawn the U.S. from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, with Russia.

In addition, Trump has nominated conservative judges for confirmation by the Senate. His cabinet secretaries have deregulated everything in sight, including handing over federal lands to private interests. Trump’s campaign coffers reflect their appreciation.

Early in 2019, the Democratic establishment, along with the corporate media, latched on to Joe Biden, whose name recognition made him the Democrat who could beat Trump. For months, the media gave him polling numbers that showed he could climb Mt. Everest. But support quickly dried up when Biden didn’t come through at the ballot box.

After Sanders racked up victories in the first three contests, Democratic Party leaders began leapfrogging from one presidential candidate to another in their desperation to find one that could stop Sanders with his money-raising machine and his ground game. Perhaps their method of beating Sanders in 2016 through voter suppression wouldn’t be enough this time around.

In poll after poll, voters rated “beating Trump” as their top priority. Barack Obama had told advisors in November 2019 that he would step in to stop Sanders if it became necessary. On March 2, the eve of Super Tuesday, Obama made his first public move. By persuading Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar to drop out and, along with Beto O’Rourke, to endorse Biden at a campaign rally in Texas, he sent a clear message to undecided voters, in particular, that Biden was the one.

The same voters who wanted to “beat Trump” also had Medicare for All as their top issue. It is not without irony that their candidate has said that if such a bill comes to the Oval Office, he will veto it.

Yes, the corporate-backed Democrats were successful in using Biden to stop Sanders, but now they have a candidate who has more than the usual baggage. The most troubling question is whether Biden has the mental acuity and presence of mind to debate Trump, let alone be president. And recently he has been accused of sexually assaulting a former staff member.

The following examples give us an idea of his legislative work: Biden not only voted for the war in Iraq but he urged his Senate colleagues to do likewise; he worked to make it difficult for ordinary Americans to file for bankruptcy; he recommended cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid several times; his successful Tough-on-Crime proposal sent blacks to prison with longer sentences than whites for cocaine use; and he raised the cap on the penalty interest rate that credit card companies can charge their card-holders.

Whether it is Trump or Biden who wins in November, it is doubtful that anything positive for the American people will emerge from Washington in the next four years.

Mary L. Wentworth lives in Amherst.

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