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Joe Biden Isn't Wasting Any Time Waging War on the Left
Despite the left going out of its way to elect him
Bernie Sanders conceded the 2020 Democratic primary in April, endorsed Joe Biden, and toured the country urging swing state voters to support him, including pivotal swing states Biden won by a slim majority like Arizona, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. Sanders’ schedule included both in-person and virtual events, even though the senator is 79 years old and there’s a lethal pandemic raging across the country that disproportionately impacts people in his age bracket.
Now, Bernie Sanders is very humbly asking the President-elect to appoint him as Labor Secretary. This would move Sanders out of the Senate (and out of contention to chair the powerful Senate Budget Committee if Democrats take back the Senate majority in January) and in a relationship in which he is directly reporting to Joe Biden. This would put the left’s biggest public figure and arguably America’s most successful grassroots fundraiser of all time squarely in Biden’s corner.
(Senator Bernie Sanders campaigning in Arizona in February of 2020. Photo: Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons)
Like Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren is also a former Biden rival (dating back to the 2005 bankruptcy bill) who went above and beyond to push the former Vice President across the finish line, including canvassing with students in New Hampshire and delivering a stump speech at a socially distanced rally in Madison, Wisconsin. Warren has been campaigning to be Biden’s Treasury Secretary since at least October. Warren’s biggest strength is as an economic policy wonk who can craft policies aimed at helping working-class families with laser-like precision.
But according to a report in The Independent, both Sanders and Warren will get nothing in return for their hard work on Biden’s behalf, with both senators reportedly being “frozen” out of the President-elect’s cabinet out of fears that swing state voters may perceive of the Biden administration as too progressive (emphasis mine):
The party clung on to its House majority but lost five seats while Republicans picked up six and secured their majority in the Senate, barring a major upset in Georgia's runoff election.
Each side of the party is blaming the other for the poor results, which came after four years of White House chaos under Donald Trump. Left-wing Democrats say the party's offer on progressive causes was not strong enough.
Meanwhile, centrist Democrats say the left's 'socialist' messaging puts off Americans living outside big cities and urban areas.
Anger has been fomenting within the party in recent days and centrist Democrats say that with Mitch McConnell remaining as Senate majority leader, the party can not afford to appoint figures viewed as socialists.
In lieu of Warren, the beltway rumor mill suggests that former Obama Treasury official Lael Brainard is the frontrunner for Treasury Secretary. The Washington Post reported Brainard was a “top deputy” of President Obama’s first Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who famously handed over billions of dollars to the Wall Street banks that were responsible for the 2008 economic crash while largely ignoring underwater homeowners.
Biden seems to be leaning conservative for other agencies as well — former Jacksonville, Florida mayor Alvin Brown is rumored to be on the shortlist for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, despite having a conservative track record largely devoid of any significant accomplishments. This is to be expected with his transition team, which currently consists of corporate executives from Airbnb, Amazon, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, and Visa, among others.
But there’s no data showing that Democrats who embraced solutions to kitchen-table concerns like the high cost of healthcare and the looming threat of global warming paid an electoral price in 2020. In fact, as Aidan Smith reported for The Appeal, all but one of the House Democrats who lost their reelection bids were opposed to Medicare for All. And not one of them once expressed support for defunding police.
According to Sanders, 100% of House Democrats who endorsed Medicare for All won reelection, and all but one co-sponsor of the Green New Deal jobs program. Likewise, Democratic Socialists of America reported that 75% of candidates endorsed by their national electoral committee won their races at the municipal, county, state legislature, and Congressional levels. This includes races in deep-red states, like Missouri (Cori Bush in MO-01), Montana (Danny Tenenbaum in HD-95), and Texas (Greg Casar for Austin City Council).
The counter-argument might be that just because policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal may be popular in Democratic strongholds like St. Louis, Missoula, Montana, and Austin, Texas, they wouldn’t necessarily play well in the traditionally red state of Georgia. But that would also be untrue.
In Data for Progress’ January 2019 poll of Georgians on environmental issues, the group found that 57% of voters supported the idea of a jobs program dedicated to building infrastructure that would transition America away from fossil fuels. Fox News exit polls found that 63% of Georgia voters were in favor of “changing the health care system so that any American can buy into a government-run health care plan if they want to.” When looking at the raw data, Democrats would actually benefit from running on Medicare for All and the Green New Deal if they want to flip Georgia’s two Senate seats in January.
President-elect Biden is playing a dangerous game by continuing down the path of alienating the left. Republicans have already vowed to obstruct his administration at every step, with an aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling Axios that there are already cabinet confirmation battle plans underway despite no officials being nominated as of this writing.
If Biden is already battling both Republicans and the Democratic base before even being sworn in as president, he may very well end up accomplishing very little in his first, and possibly only term in the White House. If Biden wants to prevent an even worse version of Trump from taking power in January of 2025, appointing Sanders and Warren to his cabinet would go a long way in courting crucial support.