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So, Joe Biden, Here's the Deal

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Joe Biden at McKinley Elementary School
Joe Biden at McKinley Elementary School
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So, Joe Biden, I understand your people wanted Bernie Sanders to endorse you real quick. And now he has. Pretty quickly, I think. Certainly quicker than I or a lot of his supporters would have, were it up to us. Of course a lot of us wish he hadn't withdrawn at all. But I digress. The point here is that I think it may be time for you to do something too quick! What I'd like to ask you to do right away is ask some of the people you trust the most a question: "If you had no history on the issue, if you'd never taken a position pro or con, might the current Covid-19 situation make you think that the U.S. needed to immediately adopt some form of universal health insurance?"

If all those people say, "No," I'd personally advise you to start hanging with a different crowd. But fair enough, I suppose it could happen. After all, I do understand that you're in the position of presumptive nominee for two reasons: First, you're not named Bernie Sanders; and second, you haven't supported things like Medicare For All in the past. So you haven't exactly been running with any kind of forward-looking, iconoclastic crowd all these years. Even so, I feel fairly confident that, if they're being honest with you, a lot of them would have to say, "Yes."

More importantly, though, I understand that you're trying to establish your leadership capacity. A lot of people will tell you that one of the marks of genuine leaders is the ability to recognize circumstances changing significantly before their very eyes. Given that you're running for president and can't even leave your house to campaign, I know you haven't missed the fact that conditions have changed dramatically since this thing started. But are you prepared to act accordingly?

So, Joe Biden, here's the deal. You don't have to worry about me. So far as I'm concerned, we were all in the game for the nomination, our side lost, and when you're in the game, you support the winner. There's any number of things I may not like about how your side plays the game, but I don't accuse you all of cheating, so I will hold up my end of the bargain and vote for you. But it ain't going to be that easy with everyone.

You see, a lot of people supported Sanders precisely because they thought he was a different kind of candidate than you, or the Clintons, or even dare I say it Barack Obama. Sanders wasn't prone to self-fulfilling, circular arguments about how certain things couldn't be done because everyone knew it would hard to do them. He didn't negotiate himself halfway to the Republicans' position before the debate had even started. He didn't give a fig what the big money people thought.

So far as you go, on the other hand, they tend to think of you as a prime example of the Goldman Sachs wing of the Democratic Party, always considering what the Fortune 500 point of view might be before staking out your position. In short, Joe, they kind of think you're bought. I pretty much think all of this myself however, as I say, you don't have to worry about me. But what are you going to do for the people who aren't willing to be quite so philosophical about the whole thing?

What are you going to do for the people watching the Covid-19 town hall videos that Bernie Sanders is still holding? What are you going to do when they watch people putting forth substantive alternatives to the Trump plans, and come away thinking, "We've just lost our only chance to put someone in the White House who actually knows what needs to be done and isn't afraid to say it?"

Well, if you could show them that you're not a relic or a corporate tool, if you can show them that the extraordinary events of the day have made the scales fall from your eyes, and that you are now a woke Joe Biden who's going to introduce his own special Biden Plan for Health Insurance for All Americans well, you'll win this election. That's the deal, Joe.

 

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Tom Gallagher was a Bernie Sanders delegate elected from California's 12th Congressional District. He is the author of "The Primary Route: How the 99 Percent Takes on the Military Industrial Complex."

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