In an exchange about health care during Tuesday night’s presidential debate, former Vice President Joe Biden declared, “I am the Democratic Party!” He was responding to President Trump’s claim that Democrats want “socialist medicine,” a Trumpian but mostly accurate characterization of where most Democrats are on health care. Biden vehemently denied it, saying he’s not for getting rid of private health insurance.
But beyond the question of health care, Biden’s claim of ownership over the Democratic Party stood out Tuesday night if only because the rest of his performance demonstrated the extent to which it’s not true. In fact, Biden is so afraid of his own party — and so bullied by its dominant left wing — he can’t truthfully answer basic questions about where he stands on major policy issues, not even when asked point-blank on a national stage.
That’s why he refused to answer a simple question about whether he supports packing the Supreme Court and ending the Senate filibuster — a question he has been dodging lately. Instead, Biden awkwardly pivoted to a canned talking point about the importance of voting. When pressed by Trump to answer, Biden shot back bluntly, “I’m not going to answer the question… Will you shut up?”
"I'm not going to answer the question… Will you shut up?" Biden said when asked about court packing pic.twitter.com/i4RHShQAIP
— The Federalist (@FDRLST) September 30, 2020
As Biden and everyone else knows, the left wing of the Democratic Party is eager to kill the filibuster and pack the court if their party wins control of the White House and the Senate. Some, like House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, have openly endorsed a court-packing scheme. Other leading Democrats, like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have not ruled out packing the court, saying that “nothing is off the table.”
That’s the line Biden’s own running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, took as early as last March when she was running against Biden for the nomination. Harris has since adopted Biden’s rule of refusing to answer the question, resorting to the same dodge about the importance of voting when CNN’s Jake Tapper asked her about court-packing immediately following Tuesday’s debate.
Why won’t they answer? Because they know that while the left wing of their party, led by the likes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, very much wants to pack the court, they also know that most Americans are against it. One recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found less than a third of Americans support adding more justices, while 54 percent oppose the idea. Among independents, 6 out of 10 are against court-packing, while Democrats are split on the issue.
Biden has in the past made his opposition to court-packing clear. As recently as last July, he warned that Democrats would “live to rue that day” if they packed the court. That Biden won’t even speak to the issue now, as his party’s presidential nominee, is telling. What it tells is that Biden is trying to please left-wing Democrats who are actually in control of the party.
On Most Major Issues, Biden Parrots Left-Wing Lines
One other issues, like expressing support for law and order and condemning Antifa, Biden was reluctant to say anything that would anger left-wing Democrats — to the point that, when pressed to condemn Antifa, he replied, absurdly, that “Antifa’s an idea, not an organization,” and argued the real problem with civic unrest comes from white supremacist militias.
On law and order, Biden uttered left-wing shibboleths about systemic racism in law enforcement, saying, “There’s systemic injustice in this country, in education and work and in law enforcement and the way in which it’s enforced,” showing deference to organizations like Black Lives Matter. That he later contradicted himself, saying most police officers are “good, decent, honorable men and women” and the problem is that “there are some bad apples,” came as an afterthought, an echo of what Biden used to think but has set aside for BLM pieties.
On the Green New Deal, Biden insisted he doesn’t support it and it’s not his plan even though his own campaign website cites the Green New Deal as a “crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.” Indeed, Biden’s climate plan was hammered out in consultation with Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign and amounts to a watered-down version of the Green New Deal.
And so it went throughout the debate. But Tuesday’s debate was just the latest example of Biden’s long march to the left. He can claim all he wants that he “is” the Democratic Party, but his constantly leftward-shifting positions, on everything from abortion to criminal justice, suggest that the Democratic Party’s most ardent leftists are leading Biden, not the other way around.