As we scuff our collective feet on the way to the caucuses, the Union is listing badly to the Right. The problem, as half us know, stems from Trump’s populist jihad against government, science and experts. If you’re a Trump populist, “blowing the system up” has worked. No more science at the EPA. No more confirmation hearings to ensure qualified cabinet appointments. No more facts to get in the way of unchecked capitalism. The system has been so truly blown that the Constitution and federal law been effectively nullified by our president and his party.
To get to this point, the Republican Party has engaged in what historian Richard Hofstadter called the “paranoid style” of populism. In this case, paranoia has given way to a complete break with empirical reality, producing a social psychosis where up is down, left is right, and Trump is compared to Christ on the cross. In this alternate universe, the “Deep State” turns out to be the “state.” Or “Us,” as it were.
Most of my Iowa Democratic friends are unenthusiastic about our first-in-the-nation status. The rack and ruin of the moment seems overwhelming. But Democrats must answer this crisis forcefully. The flagrance of the destruction already done to our government calls for the best first responder available. We need someone who remembers how the three branches of government worked before Trump, someone who remembers how to rebuild agencies now emptied of civil servants. Someone who can look forward from that repaired state structure to address the fast-closing crises of climate change and health care. And, yes, someone who would try to restore civility among the tribes.
That is why we need Joe Biden for president. From his deep experience in the Senate and as vice president, Joe knows how to repair the horrible destruction to the government we depend on. Joe knows how good government works, unlike the Alex Jones, Fox and Breitbart-addled Republican Party. Joe knows the vicious lash of Trump’s whip. And Joe knows how to restore our standing at home and in the world abroad. He is ready to lead a nation that will cope with the daunting threats of the 21st century, starting with climate change and including reforming the health care system. No one else in the Democratic field knows what Joe knows.
As an Iowan and a Democrat, I’m going to caucus for Biden, because … Joe knows.
Frank Durham lives in Iowa City.