Millions of people waited until the last possible moment before deciding to vote for Joe Biden on Super Tuesday. I talked to the first one of them I could find (my dad) to figure out what they were thinking.
NOTE: This article was written for TheOutline.com by Drew Millard. Drew is a Bernie supporter and a journalist; he is also the son of Polk County Democratic Party Chair Andy Millard. He interviewed his dad, who voted for Biden on Super Tuesday. You can read some of their exchange below and the full article on the Outline's website.
by Drew Millard, Features Editor, TheOutline.com
Despite barely campaigning in many of key states until the days immediately following his blowout victory in South Carolina, former Vice President Joe Biden won 11 state primaries on Super Tuesday. Most notably, Biden won the delegate-rich Texas and North Carolina, the latter of which being a state where, according to exit polls, he earned twice as many votes as erstwhile frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders in two telling categories: those who had only made up their mind about who to vote for in the few days leading up to the primary, as well as those who had voted in past primaries. (Biden also beat Sanders among voters who wanted a return to former President Barack Obama’s policies, and weirdly enough, gave him a run for his money among voters who wanted to switch America to a single-payer healthcare system.)
“In certain ways,” wrote Benjamin Wallace-Wells of the New Yorker, “these victories seemed to be happening to Biden,” as opposed to being the result of any concerted effort on Biden’s part. And indeed, what appears to have happened is that Biden’s victory in South Carolina gave “permission” to millions of previously undecided Democratic voters to throw in their lot with him. Given that Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke all endorsed Biden in the hours before Super Tuesday, one might be forgiven if they felt that the Democratic party had quickly cobbled together a conspiracy to prevent Bernie Sanders from becoming the nominee and instead hand it on a platter to Biden despite the fact that he’s, well, Biden. This seems like a terrible idea.
However, we here at The Outline firmly believe in hearing both sides of the argument, and conveniently enough, the other side of that argument is represented by my dad Andy Millard, a North Carolina Democrat who, after months of trying each Democratic candidate on for size, cycling through them like he’d bought them from Zara or H&M, saw the results of the South Carolina primary and decided at the last possible moment to vote for Biden in our primary.
Even more conveniently, my dad was in 2016 the Democratic candidate in a western North Carolina congressional race (the district was hopelessly gerrymandered; he lost) and currently serves as the chair of his county’s Democratic party, so, to a greater degree than a lot of dads out there, he could be described as a member of the Democratic establishment. As such, he was begrudgingly willing to serve as the voice of that Democratic establishment in an interview I conducted with him yesterday morning as I tried to make sense of what happened on Tuesday night. To him, his vote was not exactly an affirmative one for Biden, nor was his a vote a negative one against Sanders; instead, it was a vote cast in the hopes that other people were also voting for Biden and that everyone could all be done with finding someone to run against President Donald Trump.
Despite his status as a member of the Democratic establishment (as determined by me), my dad is also skeptical of the Democratic establishment (as determined by him) as an entity that can get anything done effectively. “No one is better at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory like the Democratic party,” he said. Even if I don’t agree with his vote, I definitely agree with him on that.
This conversation has been edited for length, clarity, and a minimum of father-son squabbling.
As a member of the Democratic establishment, what do you make of the Super Tuesday results?
Voters have been voting strategically, and this is why: This whole election this year, it’s not about stopping Bernie, it’s not about any Democratic candidate. It’s not even about any given set of issues. It’s about one thing and one thing only: Trump. It’s about stopping Trump. Most Democratic voters recognize that it needs to be a clear-cut referendum on Trump. Most second-term elections for presidents boil down to a referendum on the incumbent. This year it’s in much starker relief than usual. Anything we do to drift away from that simple binary choice complicates the decision for voters. Voters know that, particularly voters who’ve been around for a while. Take Bernie. Bernie is not Trump. That’s good. But Bernie brings with him this whole concept of a revolution. By doing that, he brings along with him a more complicated calculus for voters. In our district here in Western North Carolina, there is actually a possibility that our candidate might have an outside chance of winning. The more it’s a simple referendum on Trump, the better chance our guy has.
One thing that I find confusing about that line of thinking is why Biden might represent the ideal non-Trump candidate.
Oh, he doesn’t. We don’t have an ideal non-Trump candidate, and people have finally come to that realization....
Read the full interview at TheOutline.com
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