You know, I don’t agree with Joe Biden about abortion, the redefinition of marriage— and it’s important to call it that— and so-called “religious liberty”. I voted for George W. Bush twice. I’m voting for Joe Biden.
I want my establishment back. I want a normal president back. I wrote in these pages in 2012 that populism was coming, but we didn’t know what kind. Well, it came, and it looks like fascism.
It is true that George W. Bush didn’t deserve all the epithets that he took in his eight years. Except the good ones, of course. (I even coined one myself, you’ll note.) It’s true that he has continued to be the kind of man he always was. Why anyone would acknowledge that reality, and choose Trump to get back at the Democrats, is beyond my understanding.
Mr. Haffner concedes all the points about Trump’s character. He says that Trump makes him cringe. It’s time to stop cringing, and start acting. Personally, I draw the line well before unmarked vans and kidnappings by secret police. I draw the line well before manipulating the Postal Service in an attempt to steal the election by invalidating mail-in ballots. Even if the more innocuous explanation is that Mr. DeJoy wanted to cripple the Postal Service to drum up business for the company he’s been a part of, that’s Nixonian corruption. It’s so corrupt in fact that it’s a slur against Nixon. This type of hackery is all over this administration. I’ve lost count of the major players with felony charges. The attempts to make Joe Biden appear to be scarier than all of that is brazen, and humorous in a dark way.
If we can agree that George W. Bush is a reasonable standard nowadays to which Republican presidents should aspire, let’s talk about how more than 70 foreign-policy professionals from the Bush administration have endorsed Joe Biden. When faced with an even less clear choice in 2016, the elder Bush— the head of one of two American political dynasties— still himself crossed over to vote for Trump’s opponent. Who am I to argue with such a great man?
Let’s talk about Kamala Harris. It’s absolutely true that she was administering a religious test to the president’s executive appointments. It’s absolutely true that the Democratic Party does not currently support the proper maximalist view of the free exercise of religion. It is also true that I’m not going to settle for the scraps of “religious liberty” that classical liberalism in the Lockean frame hands out like a crust of bread and a spot of soup. In other words, if you want to send me to jail, go for it. I think she’s pandering to her rapidly secularizing political audience, more than anything. Those liberal judges of late have shown more respect for that free exercise than we tend to realize. Besides that, the attacks on Harris from the progressive left against her record as a prosecutor help Biden to rebut the charge that he wants to defund the police. Moreover, I believe that some of that criticism toward her is rooted in racism, and the reality is that she took extra heat during that time for opposing the death penalty, when it was still unpopular within the Democratic Party to do so. And I agree with that stance, so she gains points with me here.
In the vein of criminal justice, I believe that Harris’s opposition to the death penalty is actually the key to defusing the current conflict between the activist left, and the police. Once the death penalty no longer exists, then a broader incentive for the dehumanization of criminals and suspected criminals goes away. A capital sentence is the pinnacle of the state’s coercive force; extra-judicial killings by police are simply one manifestation of that force run amok. To put it bluntly, you won’t find many death penalty opponents in the Federalist Society.
These are tense times in America, as younger people of color come of age, and begin to assert themselves in the political process. Whatever substantive disagreements I have with that progressive left, why would I support a president who represents the rejection of the valid concerns of minorities? He isn’t even bothering to cloak the fact that he aims to play on the anxieties of white suburban voters, to turn the election around. That’s why they aren’t bothering to make a distinction between protesters, and rioters.
Trump and the Republicans didn’t even bother to release a platform; that strikes me as a concession to the reality that this presidency is a personality cult. If we can agree that we don’t like the president’s personality, why exactly is anyone contemplating voting for this president?
The civic and political space in America needs a reset. It needs someone with empathy, who has spent a very long time connecting with the average people in America. It ought to be obvious to everyone that the individual who fits that bill is Joe Biden.
Jason Kettinger is Associate Editor of Open for Business.