Politics in America has a new comeback kid eight months ahead of this year’s presidential election. The appellation that Bill Clinton gave to himself when he revived his presidential campaign in 1992 now goes to Joe Biden who at 77 is the youngest man in the race for Democratic nomination. Having won as many as nine states on Super Tuesday, he has now become the frontrunner in the electoral narrative – a tremendous achievement and a stunning reversal of fortune in recent political history, which has often been tumultuous.
It would be no exaggeration to suggest that the former VicePresident (in Barack Obama’s administration) has achieved a political miracle, one that he has greeted with the euphoric exclamation – “We are very much alive!” -at a victory speech in Los Angeles. It would be very pertinent to recall that he was reduced to a write-off in the aftermath of the New Hampshire primary a month ago when he trailed in the fifth position.
As political obituaries were crafted in the American media, of riveting interest was the Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders. It was the pivotal moment because it established Biden’s credibility, his potential as a presidential nominee and as a representative of the moderate wing of the Democratic party. In the prologue to Super Tuesday, it was clear that he – not the billionaire former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, the former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg or the Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar – stood the best chance of defeating first Bernie Sanders, and, Democrats will hope, Donald Trump in November’s election. Super Tuesday has clarified two other facets. First, money can’t buy the presidency: Bloomberg had spent half a billion dollars and got trounced. Second, the glass ceiling has been reinforced and America will not elect a female President -Elizabeth Warren could not even win her home state of Massachusetts. Both will face renewed pressure to withdraw.
The contest boils down to a two-person race that is reminiscent of 2016, specifically a moderate establishment Democrat representing a third term of Obama versus the left-wing populist Sanders. It should come as no surprise that voting patterns are broadly similar, with Sanders galvanising young people eager for change but struggling to win over older voters in the suburbs Democrats across the country, across racial lines, across gender lines, have conveyed the message that socialism is not for them and it’s not a revolution that they seek. Joe Biden can perhaps be trusted for predictability, security and stability and represents a course correction.
People in general don’t want radical thinking which hasn’t quite worked out even in the case of Left radicals in India. The trend that is fairly clear in America today is moderation. Whether that will triumph over adventurism of the Donald Trump variety is for the future.