Democrats should continue attacking former Vice President Joe Biden in hopes that the party will adopt more progressive stances needed to beat President Trump in 2020, the founding editor of a democratic socialist magazine argued.
Writing in The Guardian, Jacobin Magazine editor Bhaskar Sunkara called for a Democratic nominee that would push a “real progressive agenda” rather than just attacking the president.
“Simply pointing to the Trump administration and saying ‘this is not normal’ won’t be enough to rally people into the voting booth,” he wrote in an op-ed published Wednesday.
Sunkara’s call came as some warned intraparty divisions could weaken Democrats’ chances at beating Trump — the one priority around which the party seemed to clearly coalesce.
Biden, the frontrunner since before he formally announced he was entering the race, took a decidedly anti-Trump tone from the outset but has received criticism for not being progressive enough on certain issues.
According to Sunkara, attacking Biden would help “break the myth of Biden’s ‘electability.'” And, Sunkara argued, even if Biden beat out Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and other progressives for the party’s nomination, criticism could force the party to adopt a more progressive platform.
“Although he seems to believe so, a Biden victory is not preordained. He could conceivably get edged out by a candidate, like Sanders, bold enough to offer a genuinely alternative vision for America – not just shielding us from the nightmare of Trump, but providing us with aspirations for the future,” Sunkara said.
“Even if Sanders loses the primary, this strong anti-Biden stance might force the Democratic party to adopt more progressive positions that would actually help its chances against Trump.
“Not only is Medicare for All popular, but 60% of Americans support free college and a majority back a jobs guarantee. Big ideas to solve our social problems – and efforts to make the rich pay for them – are popular. Whoever challenges Trump will need to start adopting them.”
Biden, on Wednesday, released a costly climate change plan that seemed at least partially to be an attempt at warding off progressive criticism. After his staff indicated in May that Biden sought a middle way on the issue, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., took a veiled shot at his moderation.
But just as Biden pushed his climate plan, he faced even more friendly fire over his stance on abortion. His fellow 2020 Democratic candidates vehemently denounced the Hyde Amendment — a decades-old law that blocks federal funding from going towards most abortions — after Biden’s campaign said he supported the measure.
While it’s unclear how that position will affect Biden in the polls, it seemed to represent the first major rift in a field focused on defeating the president.
“If you don’t support repeal, you shouldn’t be the Democratic nominee,” De Blasio tweeted on Wednesday.