The media have crucified Joe Biden and made Kamala Harris a hero based on their exchange in the debates. It was unfair, but what do you expect from a “clickbait” media, aching for a headline.
I’m not a fan of Joe Biden, and I’m not a fan of Kamala Harris. But it occurs to me that if Joe had anticipated the attack from Kamala Harris, he could have answered Harris’ attack with devastating effect.
If I were Joe, I might have said something like this:
“Young Lady (yes, I would have said that), I know you have read history, and you believe that changes in history have been revolutionary and are all the direct result of pressure and emotion from young people.
“But the real truth is that change comes incrementally. It comes little by little as democratic processes grind and make noise. It is an ugly process.
“You might think that you can stand forthright against your enemies. I never had that luxury. I didn’t have the luxury of disliking them, of being disgusted by them, of standing up and shouting at them that they are wrong. They had power, given them by our democracy, and negotiating with them was our only way forward. And moving forward was important.
“Yes, you have read about the history of the marches and protests of the ’60s. I was there.
“What you don’t realize is that African American rights in the United States had been improving incrementally for the previous 100 years. Gay rights have been doing the same from the 1950’s to present, culminating in Supreme Court decisions that allow gay marriage throughout the country. You don’t realize that these fights are fought for years, with heated negotiations and some ugly, ugly tradeoffs. This may appear unseemly to you. But they edged our agenda forward.
“And finally, young lady, you seem to think that confrontation and revolution are the way to get things done. But it really just leads to gridlock. I don’t blame you for thinking confrontation is the right way. It is the only experience you have had as a sitting senator since 2017. You don’t have any experience accomplishing anything by reaching across the aisle. And you have yet to accomplish anything at all as a senator in these gridlock years.
“I’ve experienced revolution and war, too. How many lives do you want to waste trying to push your agenda on people who hate you? Especially with hate that you have generated yourself, and which is returned in kind?
“So remember, young lady. The reason you have made such great strides in your career, the reason you are actually here on stage, is because of the efforts of politicians like me with the patience, the persistence, the foresight and the fortitude to work with the bad guys of our day to push our agenda…little by little.
“Ronald Reagan once said, jokingly, about Walter Mondale, ‘I won’t hold his youth and inexperience against him.’ I’m not sure America can afford to be as gracious.”
— End of Joe’s hypothetical statement —
I know that my audience realizes this one principle that Harris and many of her colleagues don’t. America’s democracy was designed to be deliberative. It was designed to be participatory. It was, in fact, designed to work slowly and often crudely.
We complain about this a lot, but we know better than to question the wisdom of the founders in this design. And as frustrating as it is day to day, it does seem to work.
Author’s note: If you like this, let me know and I’ll tell you with Dan Quayle should have said. I came up with that one only five or six years after the event…