Image Credit: Gage Skidmore
The suspension of Sanders’ campaign for the Presidency and the subsequent concession of the Democratic nomination on the 8 of April 2020 to Joe Biden resulted in the starting gun for the Presidential election of 2020 officially being fired.
Though in reality, Democratic and Republican campaigns for the election started long ago. Donald Trump didn’t waste time in letting the Twittersphere know that Biden should be best known as “Sleepy Joe”. Biden, former- Vice President to Barack Obama, didn’t resist in snapping back, according to Politico, by saying that when it comes to nicknames for Trump “You can just start with clown”. This exchange of political tit for tat signifies the start of what will be a long-drawn out and fiery election campaign.
The failure of Sanders’ campaign was a result of concerns about the messenger, not the message. Sanders’ progressive liberal policies such as “Medicare for all” and free four year public colleges were appealing and particularly persuasive to younger voters. However, the issue of Sanders’ electability and whether he was best placed to beat Trump secured his downfall.
Back in March, a national poll undertaken by Quinnipiac University confirmed the fears of Sanders supporters when it revealed that 80% of respondents thought that it was either very or somewhat likely that Biden would win in the election against Trump, compared with only 61% believing the same for Sanders. Just as Sanders was announcing in April that his “movement” had not ended, Biden spoke of having “started a movement”. In a populist-driven political climate, Biden isn’t oblivious to the necessity of capturing the same excitement and energy that became a trademark of Sanders’ rallies.
Combining a message of America embracing socialist ideals and policies, alongside a necessity to restore prestige to the Presidency will most likely be the pitch that Biden relies upon. Beating Trump will be no easy political feat. It is already clear that Trump will pursue an anti-China campaign and this is evident from his labelling of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) as the “China virus”. There is no doubt that reference will also be made to prior economic sanctions that were levied on China back in March 2018. These sanctions will be highlighted by the Trump campaign to emphasise that his administration has always been consistent when approaching the ‘threat’ that China poses.
As of Thursday, the US Department for Labor announced that US unemployment was at a high of 22 million. Biden will have to find a way to appeal to those that now face the grim reality of having to depend upon unemployment benefits. John F. Kennedy famously said that that “In a crisis, be aware of the danger, but recognise the opportunity”, leading up to election day Biden will have to find this balance in order to be victorious for the Democratic party.
Biden must stay relevant and visible to the American people, while remaining under stay-at-home orders. Portraying himself as a President that would govern in the interests of all American people was shown to be a concern of Biden’s in the head-to head debates with Sanders, where he confirmed that he would pick a female running mate and name an African-American woman to the Supreme Court.
For Biden, choosing his running mate will be of great significance to the prospects of his campaign. If Michelle Obama does decide to delve into the theatrics of politics then her charisma and charm could be the best way to draw attention to the strengths that lie in Biden’s modesty and humility.
Alternatively, Michelle choosing to be Biden’s running mate could ‘play right into Trump’s hands’, as it is likely that a much used attack line will be smearing Biden with what he deems to be the failures of the Obama Presidency. Bringing Michelle on board the campaign could make it harder for Biden to differentiate himself from his past political dealings and limit his ability to offer the American people a new vision and break from the past.
With the Coronavirus bringing new challenges and uncertainties, it is of critical importance for Biden that he doesn’t become involved in a mud-slinging match with Trump. With Sanders’ recent endorsement, Biden can now turn his attention from uniting the party to uniting the American people.
Though Trump’s new ‘Opening Up America Again’ initiative will most likely provide hope to millions of businesses that are already having to face up to the devastating economic debris that the pandemic has left behind. Biden will now face his greatest political challenge. Time will only tell if Biden can present both a radical and transformative vision to the American people, while retaining his reputation for moderation and a ‘steady hand’.