Hey, Joe | On Politics | Chicago Reader

Hey, Joe 

A few things Biden needs to know about the Berniecrats he’s courting

click to enlarge I know lefties who voted for Richard Nixon in 1968 because they were so incensed with Dems over the Vietnam War.

I know lefties who voted for Richard Nixon in 1968 because they were so incensed with Dems over the Vietnam War.

Department of Defense

Far be it from me to give advice to Joe Biden, a candidate I never supported during the primaries and still sort of wish would get off the ticket.

On top of everything else, Tara Reade’s sexual assault accusation against him isn’t going away.

But as one of the foremost authorities on lefties—with a subspecialty in the breed often known as Berniecrats—I’d like to give him some advice for the sake of party unity and defeating Trump, which is at the top of my list of political priorities.

Winning over Berniecrats has been on the to-do list of Dems since Bernie Sanders dropped out last week. Democrats think they can do that by saying nice things about Bernie.

It’s funny to watch everyone from Biden to writers for the New York Times fall over themselves to say nice things about Bernie—even though they never had anything nice to say about him while he was still in the race.

Apparently they’ve decided that if they butter up Bernie, they can win over Bernie voters.

Well, it sort of worked—at least, they got Bernie to endorse Biden.

But winning over Bernie’s voters? That’s going to be tougher.

To help you out, Dems, I’m offering this brief primer on Berniecrats. Pay attention because it’s all gonna be on the test . . .

Berniecrats fall into three basic categories, at least when it comes to voting for Dems.

There are the Berniecrats who will hold their noses and vote Democrat—especially over Trump—no matter what state they live in. Even if, like Illinois, their state is guaranteed to go blue.

For better or worse, I’m in that category.

Then there are the Berniecrats who will hold their noses and vote Democrat—but only if they live in a swing state, like Michigan, where their vote really counts in winning the electoral college.

Biden could win more of these voters if he backed off some of his centrist policies—like his aversion to Medicare for All (all he has to do is say the pandemic has forced him to see the world in a new light).

He might even win over some Libertarian-like swing voters by getting over his bizarre aversion to cannabis legalization and supporting it. (You watch—if Trump feels his campaign needs a jolt, he’ll come out in favor of legalization, while Joe’s still talking about more studies being needed.)

Finally, there are the Berniecrats who will never, ever, ever vote for Biden—or any Dem—no matter what state they live in.

These are hard-core lefties. Many of them could barely bring themselves to vote for Bernie because he wasn’t leftist enough.

I know the type very well—you might say I’ve spent more than a few Thanksgivings with some of them for most of my life.

They think Dems aren’t much better than Republicans, and that when push comes to shove, Dems will sell them out every time.

You can talk to them until you’re blue in the face about judicial appointees and the Supreme Court and they’ll remind you that Nancy Pelosi and the Dems gave Trump everything he wanted on the military budget.

Oh, man, do I know this type . . .

They’re descendants of the people who voted for Henry Wallace over Harry Truman back in 1948.

They couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Adlai Stevenson or John F. Kennedy.

They voted for LBJ over Goldwater in 1964, and then felt betrayed by the Vietnam War. So in 1968, they voted third party over Hubert Humphrey—LBJ’s vice president. Or, gasp, they voted for Nixon.

Yes, it’s true. I know lefties who voted for Nixon in 1968 because they hated Humphrey and Johnson so much for that war.

For that matter, they’re some of the same people who voted for Ralph Nader over Al Gore in 2000. And while I’m on that subject . . .

Hey, Dems, stop whining about 2000. 

It’s not Ralph Nader’s fault that Al Gore “lost” to George W. Bush. Gore ran a lackluster campaign. He picked a lousy running mate (Joe Lieberman). And then when the fight over Florida really heated up, Gore wimped out. He told Jesse Jackson and union activists not to go to Florida to protest the recount, pretty much conceding the fight to Republicans and proving once again that Republicans play the game of politics to win, and Dems play to make the contacts they need to get a good job on Wall Street.

Sorry for that outburst—it’s just the hard-core leftie in me. 

Where was I? Oh, yes, advice to Biden.

I suggest Dems worry less about hard-core lefties and more about getting more Black voters to the polls.

I realize this might be tough for some Dems, as many of them hold on to power precisely because Black people don’t vote—what up, Mayor Rahm?

Just imagine how Chicago would be run if all—or even most—of eligible Black residents actually voted.

For one thing, we wouldn’t dedicate $1.3 billion in property taxes to Lincoln Yards, then cry that we’re too broke to pay for nurses in our public schools.

Remember when the teachers had to go on strike before the mayor agreed to budget more nurses for our public schools? Seems like ancient history, doesn’t it?

At the moment, we’re celebrating the brave nurses who are sacrificing their lives and safety to treat COVID-19 patients. And just a few months ago it was like—nurses? Who needs nurses?

And you wonder why hard-core Berniecrats have a hard time voting Democrat.

Anyway, that’s my advice, Biden. Along with this: fight like hell to save the post office and by-mail voting, no matter how many Republicans say they’ll oppose it.

One thing you ought to know about Republicans: when we go high—as Michelle Obama once advised—they punch us in our exposed bellies. 

This isn’t going to be easy, even if the Berniecrats fall in line.   v

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