Scott Hardie | March 9, 2020
Prediction: If Joe Biden becomes the Democratic Party's nominee for president, then whoever he selects as his running mate will take over the campaign and news coverage, in much the same way that Sarah Palin did in 2008. Biden's just not energetic or exciting any more, and he'll almost have to choose someone who is.

What do you think of Biden, and specifically of his chances of winning?

Chris Lemler | March 9, 2020
I think Biden winning the Democratic party will be close but Biden will win the Democratic party. If he chooses a running mate in my eyes he should choose Michelle Obama. I think being his running mate would be good.

Steve West | March 9, 2020
Joe Biden will win the nomination and choose Kamala Harris as his running mate. An east coast (DE) meets west coast (CA) thing might have voter appeal.

Samir Mehta | March 10, 2020
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Scott Hardie | February 7, 2023
I was wrong. Samir was right. And all three of you made solid predictions otherwise.

Next question: Should Joe Biden run for re-election in 2024?

Steve West | February 7, 2023
He will run for re-election but that wasn't your question. He should run because he can win. Whether Trump wins the Republican nomination or not is irrelevant. If he wins the nomination, he still can't beat Biden, especially if he's in jail. If he doesn't win the nomination, he might (probably will) run as a third-party candidate which will only serve to split the Republican vote in any general election. If he doesn't run as the Republican nominee, you can be sure he'll do his best to trash the chosen candidate. He has strong negative feelings toward the other leading Republican options (Desantis, Haley, Pence, Hogan, Cheney and Pompeo). The only thing that may change is his choice of running mate (which I doubt) or he dies.

Scott Hardie | February 8, 2023
Maybe I'm wrong about Trump (I certainly have been before), but I don't see a third-party run from him having much impact against DeSantis, who so far seems to be the true Republican front-runner and to have stolen most of Trump's thunder with the angry members of the electorate, and who understands how to strike hard against his perceived enemies in a way that immunizes him against Trump's attacks. (If "DeSanctimonious" is the best that Trump can come up with, it's already over.) That said, whether DeSantis can sustain his current momentum remains to be seen. If another Republican somehow gets the nomination, Trump would definitely be a possible spoiler. But if DeSantis does get the GOP nomination, and he maintains his current popularity for a year and a half, then it doesn't matter whether Biden runs or not, because DeSantis will win the presidency in a blowout.

I fully expect Biden to run, but I hope that he doesn't. Not only is he a poor campaigner who could retire now with his legacy secure, but personally, I am furious at him for betraying striking rail workers who had reasonable demands and an ideal time on the calendar to force concessions from a greedy industry that exploits its workers. Unless Biden is able to revisit that betrayal in the next two years and make it right, and I don't see how he would now that the moment has passed, then I consider it a red line crossed and I cannot vote for him.

Samir Mehta | February 12, 2023
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Scott Hardie | February 12, 2023
We will see. I certainly hope that you're right.

DeSantis does have much more to offer than his anti-woke culture-warrior persona, and that's his governance of Florida for the last four years. Perception beats reality: The national economy is widely perceived to be failing right now while Florida is widely perceived to be a major pandemic success story, booming while other large liberal-run states like California and Illinois are perceived to have struggled economically with their mask mandates and pandemic closures and so on. DeSantis is also widely perceived to be pro-child, boosting academic performance by sending kids back into classrooms earlier than most other states, and by protecting them from "groomers" and too-early discussions of sexuality and critical race theory. The fact that all of this is as real as Bigfoot doesn't matter. DeSantis getting re-elected with a nearly 20-point margin shows what voters think about his fight with Disney; he got that number by pulling in most swing voters and some Democrats. He is no pushover.

Biden's talk about unions means nothing against his actions. He can prove himself to be a friend of unions with real action going forward if he wants my vote. And I'll say this too: I loathe being told that my failure to vote for the liberal candidate is the same as casting a vote for the conservative candidate. "Vote blue no matter who" lets so many shitty Democrats off the hook for betraying their constituencies in favor of greedy corporations and rich donors. Both major parties have taken actions to prevent the rise of third parties, because they want us stuck in a loop, always voting for "our" lousy candidate so that "their" terrible candidate doesn't gain power. I refuse to play that game, and I wish that every American would refuse to play that game and demand better representation, instead of blaming each other for "letting the other side win." I'll suffer whatever slings and arrows I must over this, but I shouldn't have to, because we shouldn't be so easily manipulated.

Samir Mehta | February 12, 2023
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Scott Hardie | February 13, 2023
Everybody's talking about Trump as a spoiler for DeSantis, but I'm surprised not to have heard Greg Abbott mentioned as a spoiler too. The governors have similar public profiles due to employing similar political stunts, and they enjoy similar passionate support from their base for their similar boldness in pursuit of conservative goals. It seems to me that Abbott wants the presidency just as much as DeSantis. If both men run, they'll split a certain segment of the vote.

Samir Mehta | February 13, 2023
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Scott Hardie | February 13, 2023
For the foreseeable future, let's say the next few election cycles, I think the electable Republicans will be the ones that hybridize the far right and the moderate center, like DeSantis. He pulls far-right stunts like bussing migrants north and punishing "woke" companies, but he also has what many centrist voters would call sensible positions on issues like abortion (banning at 15 weeks instead of at all) and the environment (he opposes fracking and has taken steps to protect wetlands, a big deal here). There's something to like in his resume for everyone across the political spectrum—hell, even *I* like a few things that he's done, though I consider his hard authoritarianism to be an automatic disqualifier before I'd ever consider voting for him. My point is, there are many people to whom DeSantis *is* the moderate GOP. If you mean politicians more like Jeb Bush, no, they're (milque)toast.

Samir Mehta | February 14, 2023
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Erik Bates | February 14, 2023
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Scott Hardie | February 20, 2023
Erik, great analogy with dogs, especially the Carlson part. That sadly feels accurate.

I'm liberal and expect to stay that way, but I've been trying hard lately to see conservative points of view for this very reason, to bridge that gap with my friends & neighbors and to reduce the anxiety that certain parties (and certain Parties) have tried to instill within me that these people are somehow my enemy, which is ludicrous. Some conservative views make a lot of sense to me, like that "Latinx" is patronizing when that community overwhelmingly rejects the term. Others seem at least reasonable, like that Biden's connections to Ukraine are suspicious enough to warrant further investigation. There are, of course, many others that I cannot abide. (Has anyone seeking to ban books ever been on the right side of history?)

I feel like this (still ongoing) thought experiment has partially accomplished its purpose. I can more clearly perceive how controversies du jour, like liberals flipping out over a Harry Potter video game or conservatives flipping out over M&M mascots, are proxies for the real conflicts between us, the ones that feel unresolvable but maybe wouldn't if we'd all make a bigger effort to meet in the middle.

Perhaps the biggest conflict of all is about electoral control. Due to fear-mongering media (I see it pushed constantly in the New York Times!), both sides have been whipped into a frenzy over the idea that the other side is trying to rig all future elections forever, via gerrymandering and legislature-packing and tampering with electoral law and so on. And sure, politicians have pulled this crap from the beginning, and we should not let them get away with it... but if I want my conservative friends to stop being paranoid that liberals have purely electoral motives behind things like early voting, voting by mail, re-enfranchisement for felons, statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico, and so on (we don't!), then I need to do my part and stop being paranoid that every attempt to secure elections is similarly rooted in some dastardly scheme to ensure permanent conservative rule. Let's all calm down.

I read two things recently that further shaped my thinking on this. I'm sorry that I can't find links to them now.

One is that the era of mutually respectful politics that Erik describes was really a post-war bubble. For most of American history, we've been at each other's throats, which is encouraged by the structure and nature of our country. After the horrors and shared sacrifice of WWII, we came together in relative peace and harmony for a couple of generations, but that bonhomie is inevitably fading now. In other words, don't think of today's polarization as the deviation from the norm, but rather the opposite. It's sad to think that strife is doomed to be our norm, but if we can make it through the last two and a half centuries of it, we can continue.

The other is that the Republican Party has always existed in opposition to something: It was founded in opposition to slavery, it opposed the sale and consumption of alcohol during the Prohibition era, it opposed Russia and Socialism as our national enemies during the Cold War era, it opposed terrorism in the post-9/11 era, and so on. Each time, Republicans adopted this opposition as their primary cause, practically defining themselves by it. The author of this essay then concluded that Republicans need an enemy, and since they lack one in today's relatively stable cultural and geopolitical moment, they have come to see liberals as their enemy, defining themselves in opposition to modern liberalism and perceiving everything liberals do as automatically suspect. I don't know how true or fair that is (I'm not enough of a historian to produce counter-examples, and some things that liberals support are such huge leaps forward that they do seem suspicious), but to whatever degree that the analysis is accurate, it may provide one reason why we feel so divided now, and one reason to hope that we might not always be.

Samir Mehta | March 8, 2023
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