The three supporters she name-checked were Colin Powell, Cindy McCain and John Kasich. When asked about racial justice, she didn’t talk expansively about systemic racism but focused more practically on what she did as a prosecutor.
Big controversial issues were dodged or avoided altogether: Bernie-style class conflict, even any comprehensive talk about inequality and redistribution. When she was asked directly about the Green New Deal, she immediately reminded voters that Joe Biden wouldn’t ban fracking and then sketched out a set of policies much more moderate than those she’d embraced in the primaries.
The policies she did embrace mostly came from the center-left Obama playbook: preserving and extending Obamacare, protecting those with pre-existing conditions, investing in renewable energy and infrastructure projects, free community college, preserving tax cuts for anybody making less than $400,000 a year.
The one plausible argument the Republicans had against Biden was that he is a Trojan Horse for the far left. After the first few months of the campaign and especially after last night, it is simply hard to believe that. When Biden said in the first presidential debate, “I am the Democratic Party,” it was inartfully put, but it’s closer to the truth than I would have imagined a few months ago.
How you campaign is how you govern. As people who have served in past administrations understand, once in office it is nearly impossible to rally support for issues and plans you didn’t take to the American people during the fall. All those plans buried in Biden campaign reports but which are being ignored now will not suddenly burst to life after Inauguration Day. That’s why it’s unlikely that Biden and Harris would switch sharply back to the left once elected.
Trump’s stated reluctance to accept the election results means that Biden has to run this way. He can’t run an ideological campaign that wins a bare majority. He has to inarguably crush Trump with the broadest possible coalition.
So far, that’s what’s happening. There’s a moment in many campaigns when the American people see chaos looming on the horizon. It happened in 2008 with the fall of Lehman Brothers and in 1968 with the riots. At those moments, Americans shift to the candidates who provide safety and order. Americans have seen chaos loom, particularly over the past nine days, and Biden and Harris seem like the safest and least exhausting pair of hands.
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