It is patently obvious to anyone who can fog a mirror that President Donald Trump is very sick puppy. His actions in the face of the SARS2-COVID19 pandemic are a most outrageous demonstration of failure in time of crisis. Trump has cut and run. Yet, despite his flagrant dereliction of duty and gross maleficence in office, public opinion polls show that Trump trails closely behind Joe Biden, his probable opponent in the November election. Why is this so?

Biden’s Strategy

Throughout history, successful strategists of conflict often utilize a policy of refraining from engagement while one’s opponent is inflicting self-damage. Just stand back and watch the suicide. In modern culture this “rope-a-dope” approach was made famous by boxing great Muhammad Ali as he reclaimed his World Heavyweight title in 1974, defeating George Foreman. For seven rounds Ali simply held his extremely long arms very close to his chest while Foreman landed one ineffective blow after another on Ali’s well-defended body. By the eighth round Foreman was exhausted. Ali opened up and scored a knockout.

Foreman and Trump share a common attribute. Both are stupid. However, can Biden show the grace and style in the political arena that Ali showed in the ring? Can Biden do his part of the job? Can he “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.”

Crying Out for Change

The Republican strategy for re-election is premised on the assumption that the electorate contains significant fraction of zombies, almost 40 percent, who will support any far-right screwball like Trump. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party establishment seems to think that progressive voters should mirror Trump’s ultra-right zombies from stage left and support the presumptive Democratic nominee with comparable zeal. This faulty logic clouds the Biden camp.

On March 3, California Democrats cast their primary presidential election ballots. The winner was Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist. In 2016 and 2020 Sanders presented his democratic socialist philosophy as a series of specific proposals including:

1. Increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

2. Establishing universal tuition-free higher education at public universities and colleges.

3. Financing Medicare for All through an expanded Social Security system.

4. Opposing unfair free trade agreements that caused widespread hardship by deporting thousands of American jobs.

5. Stimulating the economy and simultaneously addressing climate change with Green New Deal construction projects.

6. Ending the abomination of the death penalty.

In 2016 the Democratic establishment sensed the pulse of the voters and incorporated much of Sanders’ vision into its national platform — a quest to unite diverse Democrats in opposition to Trump. However, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee opposed her party’s platform. The 2016 Democratic candidate ran against the values of the Democratic Party. The candidate ridiculed working class people whose jobs were lost to free trade. She called them “deplorables.” The apology offered after her “mis-speak” rang hollow.

The Democrat’s 2016 post-election analysis blamed their loss on foreign election interference by the government of Russia. This excuse ignored that our government had intervened in dozens of elections in other countries in recent decades — the most flagrant examples being the CIA overthrow of the legally elected governments of Iran in 1952, Guatemala in 1954 and the Dominican Republic in 1963. So, what goes around comes around.

Reconciling a Dilemma

The Democrats are about to go into their nominating convention. Their presumptive nominee, Joe Biden, lost the California primary to Sanders. A plurality of California delegates to the National Convention in Milwaukee will be Sanders supporters. Will Biden make a magnanimous gesture to acknowledge the California reality?

The California delegation to the Democratic National Convention will convene its organizational meeting on June 28. At this meeting they will elect a chair of the largely pro-Sanders California delegation. Sanders, while having most of the delegates, does not have a majority. Biden, who essentially has the presidential nomination locked up, needs to inspire a display of party unity. One important gesture Biden could make toward party unity would be to endorse a Sanders supporter for California Democratic Convention Delegation Chair. An ideal choice would be Congressman Ro Khanna from the Silicon Valley.

Then, at the August Democratic National Convention, Sanders’ California supporters would feel rewarded for their hard work. The chair of their delegation could be Khanna, a supporter of Bernie. This, combined with a platform similar to that of 2016, could be the unifying move that ends the most corrupt administration in American history. 

Robert M. Nelson, a longtime resident of Pasadena, is a member of the executive board of the California Democratic Party representing Assembly District 41. He will be participating in the August Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.