Why Aren't They Making The Honest Case Against Joe Biden?

I mean, one certainly exists, it’s a fairly easy narrative to exploit, it doesn’t sound too conspiratorial, and it has the huge benefit of being true (and I’ll lay it out below in just a few sentences). Now, not everything Republicans are saying about Biden is false (but yeah, kinda), but most of the major talking points that are being endlessly repeated are almost laughably unpersuasive. And lies. They’re lies.

The first of course is that Biden is a leftist (bless your hearts, no. Next!). The second is that he’s influenced by leftists, or some secret cabal. Aside from the not - too - subtle anti - Semitic undertones of that, there is the dopey conspiratorial factor AND the fact that this is kind of a selling point to a lot of progressives - that President Biden’s views could be influenced. So that’s a pretty terrible talking point, but it does dovetail nicely with the third odd lie about Biden - that he is in cognitive decline. That sort of collapses a bit when you hear him speak for any length of time, and the super - humanizing story of his stutter collapses it even further. And of course it completely collapses next to Trump’s fairly clear cognitive issues.

The reason for these dishonest and hyperbolic cases is that the entire Trump campaign is premised not on appealing to a broad coalition of voters, but turning out an increasingly ill - informed and conspiracy - minded base. It’s simply not stimulating enough to say that Joe Biden wants to raise the top marginal tax rate by a few percentage points to provide more funding to health and childcare programs, he has to be a socialist (!). It’s… boring that Biden wants to redirect some law enforcement funding to deescalation training and more social workers - he has to be “defunding our police” (!). 

Gods forbid that we have an actual sober, detailed debate on these things.

But all that being said, the straightforward, banal, conservative (and yes, probably effective) case against Biden needs only two major elements. These aren’t totally absent from their critiques, but they’re not as shouty and dramatic either. Joe Biden, if elected president will try to raise your taxes (he’s only interested in raising taxes on incomes over 400k, but that can be conveniently left out). You - yes, YOU - are going to have your taxes raised with Biden as president. It applies to someone, so it’s true. Second, and perhaps most effectively, Biden has been in “Washington” for the last 40 years. He’s very much a creature of “the swamp”. He’s personally responsible for every law and regulation that you hate, and every problem America has at the moment can be laid at his feet. That's a bit hyperbolic, but it's not… crazy.

So why not try to make these things the dominant narrative?

The core reason has to be that the GOP has had the volume turned up to 11 ever since Ronald Reagan went on TV to declare that ensuring that our grandparents were all able to get the medical care they need via Medicare was “socialism”. Instead of debating the merits and demerits of various public policies - everything - including putting a mask on to protect from some germs - is turned into an existential ideological struggle. And while that has been fully embraced in the Trump era - if I had to guess now, I’d guess that the overwhelming public sentiment on that front is just exhaustion

There are a lot of us who desperately want to honestly say that we’re voting against a candidate because they don’t have a detailed enough plan for Social Security, not because their WAY OF LIFE IS AT STAKE if they win. So yes, Trump is easily the most mendacious presidential candidate in history, but it's the fact that he - and his party - are making the least persuasive case about Joe Biden because of just how disconnected from easily observable reality it is.


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