Earl Ofari Hutchinson
The brutal political fact of life is that Biden won’t get Trump out of the White House by non-stop screaming what a petty, racist, corrupt, misogynist, screw up he is. These epithets and more have been hurled at Trump every second he has been in the White House. Yet, he still has an unshakeable massive base and probably a lot more backers who are too scared to say they back him but do and will in November. Despite colossal blunders that would make Goofy blush, he stays within poll striking distance of Biden.
No, name calling, finger pointing, and worse, trying to swap insults, digs, and schoolyard name calling with him won’t work. You can’t beat the guy at that, and it simply plays into his gutter game if Biden tries. It’s tough but Biden can start by taking this cue from Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan Make America Great Again. The slogan was crass, cynical, and oozed with bigotry. But it worked. It painted a vision, perverse yes, but a vision that millions could identify with and pine for. That is to bring back jobs rebuild American industry and seal the borders.
Biden must create a counter signature slogan that paints a positive vision of boosting America’s workers and middle class. Obama did that with his slogan and message of Hope and Change. In the era of COVID, massive unemployment, a colossal health crisis, and a rudderless GOP leadership at the top, an uplifting, inspiring slogan could again touch the right nerve.
Biden must make the ringing call by the Democrats for party unity more than a feel-good, politically correct self-assuring call. This means repairing the deep polarization among Democratic voters, or more particularly, the hardliners among progressives who backed Bernie Sanders and are wary if not hostile to him. Make a big, bold pledge to be open on the issues of Medicare for All, wealth inequality, and to move quickly to roll back the Trump and GOP’s massive tax giveaways to the rich.
Next, make an all-out effort to peel off a portion of Trump’s base. That’s non college, white blue collar, and rural whites. Hit hard on pledging to aggressively battle against home foreclosures, job losses, plant closures, and the erosion of farm supports.
Then push hard to convince Latino voters that a Biden White House will aggressively work to break the long stall on comprehensive immigration reform. Then accompany this with a pledge to make a total overhaul of ICE to end the well-documented abuses of undocumented workers, mothers, and their children in the US.
Biden must follow Obama’s game plan with Black voters. He turned the campaign for the White House into a holy crusade among them. The failure of many vote eligible Blacks who saw no reason to got to the polls in 2016 did much to cost Clinton the White House in the Heartland states and Florida that decide the White House. He’ll have to inspire and energize them. He can do that by pledging a major effort to pass the George Floyd Bill to counter police abuse and ensure reform, consider reparations proposals, massive funding and initiatives that target young Blacks, and an overhaul of the criminal justice system that will in part signal his mea culpa and a three hundred sixty degree pivot from the Clinton Crime Bill that he touted.
There’s little chance that he can break the strong grip Trump has on the majority of white male votes in those states. Polls show they likely will still be Trump’s biggest and most enthusiastic backers in the South. So, he risks little in championing civil rights and going all out to ramp up the Black and Latino vote turnout, especially in the South.
Biden also must convince a significant number of swing state centrist independent voters that he is the real change alternative to Trump in handling foreign policy, the economy, health care, immigration and energy issues, and is centrist enough to convince them that he is as tough on terrorism and as big an advocate of a strong military as Trump.
One final thing Joe must do. Obama stoked passion, energy, and fire among a wide segment of voters, beyond Blacks. He did it by selling them on the belief that he was a new type of Democrat. A Democrat who could break from the scratch my back, wheel, and deal insular Beltway politics. This went way beyond stock campaign pledges, party platforms, and political bloviating. It struck to the heart of the personal longing of millions for change. Obama’s slogan of hope and change became more than a slogan but a deep, and abiding longing and belief for millions. It worked.
Trump made millions believe he was cut from a similar mold with his over the top, outrageous, political unorthodoxy. Biden can do the same by scrapping the standard play it safe script and playbook, and let it fly by telling where a President Biden will take America the next four years. This has nothing to do with Trump and everything to do with winning.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of Biden vs. Trump: Who Will Win? (Amazon) He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.