Faced with tightening polls and the consequent need for a new strategy, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris appear to have settled on a new plan for the last two months of the presidential campaign — threaten continued violence against Americans across the country unless voters give them a victory on Election Day.
And while the duo is possibly to be commended for the novelty, and honesty, of its approach — truly, can anyone remember a national ticket that so blatantly advertised its reliance on the threat of deploying old-fashioned muscle? — I think that, in the end, this appeal to fear will undo the ticket’s chances.
Harris gave hints of the new strategy before she was even an official member of the ticket.
Appearing in mid-June on CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Harris responded to Colbert’s comment about ongoing protests “happening in major cities across the United States” by declaring: “But they’re not going to stop. They’re not going to stop. And … this is a movement, I’m telling you, they’re not going to stop. And everyone beware, because they’re not going to stop.”
“They’re not going to stop before Election Day in November, and they’re not going to stop after Election Day. And … everyone should take note of that, on both levels, that this isn’t, they’re not going to let up, and they should not. And we should not.”
Protests that are intertwined with nonstop violence are not “protests” — especially when the word “protests” is used as a more genteel euphemism for “riots” and “violence.”
Two months later, following a successful Republican National Convention that, polls show, saw President Donald Trump cut into Biden’s lead, the former vice president himself took up the cudgel and threatened Americans.
Speaking in Pittsburgh on Monday, Biden asked: “Does anyone believe there’ll be less violence in America if Donald Trump is re-elected?”
That’s code for, “Nice country you got there. Shame if somethin’ happened to it,” which is itself code for, “Vote for me, or else.”
Noticeably missing from Biden’s remarks about the need to stop violence in America’s cities? Any mention of antifa, the black-clad left-wing provocateurs whose presence at a city’s protests is virtually guaranteed to lead to violence and rioting.
Giving a speech today on the need to end urban violence in America without mentioning antifa is the equivalent of giving a speech on health care in America without mentioning the coronavirus.
Of course, it’s easy to understand why Biden felt the need to deliver a speech about ending urban violence in America without mentioning antifa — to mention antifa, he would have had to condemn antifa. And he simply cannot do that, for fear of antagonizing his left-wing base.
Remember, more than a fourth of all the votes cast in Democratic presidential primaries this year went for the self-identified Democratic Socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and a shockingly large segment of the modern Democratic Party puts more faith in socialism than in capitalism. Biden simply cannot afford to risk losing not only their votes, but their financial and political support for his volunteer efforts.
And that puts him between a rock and a hard place. He can choose to double down with his left-wing base, and hope he can gin up enough enthusiasm among his base voters to win in the crucial battleground states, or he can pull a “Sister Souljah” moment and tell them off in hopes of appealing to suburban independents.
But he cannot do both.
Here’s hoping he recognizes the error of this new strategy and pulls back. And if he doesn’t, then let’s hope America’s voters wise up and see his threat for what it is — a terrible new precedent in American politics.
If Biden can threaten continued violence as a successful means to victory, the fires raging in our cities will never be doused, and America’s politics will be forever changed — for the worse.