So, while I thought Biden didn’t do too badly, it seems that Harris ate his lunch to the point where she has gone up quite a bit in the polls at Biden’s expense. Sanders is looking more and more like an also-ran with each passing day. It all gives me decidedly mixed feelings.
I’m just as happy to see Biden’s fortunes fall, since I believe he would be a disastrous candidate against Trump. The Democrats already tried running one triangulating centrist against Trump; why repeat that failed strategy?
I’m not so happy to see it happen at the hands of Harris. She’s very much an authoritarian in the mold of Trump, just for different ends. If you don’t believe me, check out her position on gun control. She vows to unilaterally take executive action if Congress doesn’t act according to her will.
That, frankly, is the last thing we need. It it flies — and, thanks to precedents already set by Trump and his predecessors, it just might — it will successfully establish an even firmer precedent in favor of an even more imperial presidency.
A precedent which, no doubt, would be used sooner than anyone thinks by a fascist president whose ruthlessness makes Trump look like a harmless fuzzball, much like Trump makes Dubya look by comparison today.
Sadly, Harris is probably the Democrat with the best chance of winning. Biden’s always been weak when campaigning on the national stage, and this pattern is starting to exhibit itself yet again. Warren is smart and experienced, but just doesn’t impress me as having a winning personality (like it or not, personality matters). Sanders is weak with African-Americans (something that’s undeserved, but life is unfair) and the Democratic establishment (something that’s totally understandable, given how he is not one of them). Buttigieg is simply too young and inexperienced (if he ran for Senate and served for four years, he could be a formidable candidate in 2024). And that leaves the Senator from California.
And she has a good chance of winning against Trump. Apparently, she unnerves The Donald so much that he has been incapable of thinking of a cute, derogatory nickname for her. She’s already shown her skill at eviscerating her opponent against Biden, and doubtless could turn that same skill against Trump.
This beats the pants off Trump serving for four more years, but it also means we’re not going to get out of this authoritarian mess quickly or easily. It will probably be necessary to support the right’s efforts to undermine presidential authority if she wins; do this right, and presidential authority could be semi-permanently scaled back. (As much as I would like it to be permanent, the same processes that created the imperial presidency would inexorably tend to re-create it.)
The silver lining to this dark cloud is that it probably will be easy to do the above if Harris wins: Trump has appointed dozens upon dozens of right-leaning judges, who will find the temptation to use their power to undermine a Democrat irresistible (the courts are political and always have been). And once court precedents start getting set, they are difficult to undo. While the damage to the imperial presidency won’t be permanent it should at least prove somewhat lasting.