The Case for Biden


Facing the prospect of a Trump restoration, elements of the American left have taken to spurning a Democratic president and pushing for “uncommitted” votes in our Washington presidential primary and other states. A bad idea.

These voices are pursuing a politics of grievance, overreach, tin-eared choice of issues, and — above all — self indulgence. It threatens a repeat of recent history when Ralph Nader drained just enough votes in Florida to send George W. Bush to the White House, and the nasty Jill Stein campaign directed all its fire at Hillary Clinton.

The pretenders are back in 2024, putting a target squarely on the back of our moderately reformist Democratic Party while failing to fathom the threat posed by a would-be strongman with scant knowledge of or respect for the Constitution.

 Lately, for instance,  we’ve watched pro-Palestinian protesters follow New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (a leading reformer in Congress) into a movie theater. Her alleged sin: failing to accuse Israel of “genocide” for its actions in Gaza. AOC insisted she had used the term. She had it lucky since Arizona Sen. Krysten Sinema was followed into a bathroom.

Such are tactics from the far left. We ought to back off from the nation’s divisions for a moment and look at how the country is being run. I believe it was Adlai Stevenson who once said, “The ultimate test of politics is the ability to govern — the acid, final test.”

Or as paraphrased by first-term Washington Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp-Perez, her purpose in office is ”to get shit done.” MGP recently lobbied successfully for $600 million in federal dollars toward a badly needed bridge over the Columbia River at the Washington-Oregon border.

He may be 81 years old, and Joe Biden has delivered a half-a-loaf at times, but in his words it’s been “the real deal.” An example of delivery, the January ceremony at the Ohio River that brought Biden together with dour Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. They were celebrating rebuild of the 75-year-old Brent Spence Bridge, linking Kentucky with Ohio, under Biden ‘s infrastructure bill. Trump talked infrastructure, Biden made it happen with bipartisan support.

Biden may walk slowly and he’s always been a cornucopia of gaffes, but the guy is still on his game. He has rebuilt the NATO alliance and deployed it to thwart Russia’s bid to rebuild its empire. We’re back in the Paris climate accords.  Thwarted in his trillion-dollar aspirations of Build Back Better, Biden still managed with the Inflation Reduction Act to secure the nation’s first major investment in renewable energy.

We have in the CHIPS act, a brainchild of Sen. Maria Cantwell, a far-reaching program which underwrites semiconductor research, workplace training, and technology manufacturing. Millions of jobs have been created, the labor movement is revived, and against all predictions, America is achieving a “soft landing” from post-pandemic inflation.

Biden was in this region two springs ago, visiting Green River College for a forum on drug costs, which focused on expenses borne by those with diabetes in the family. He delivered a cap on Insulin costs to seniors — I am a beneficiary — as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.

The old guy still knows how to work society’s compromises and be an agent of incremental change. That gradualism will never satisfy those who’ve marched down Pine Street since Vietnam War protests chanting: “What do we want? (Name of demand), when do we want it? NOW!!!”

Such crises as climate change do demand immediate response. Still, with powerful forces and monied interests fomenting resistance and reaction, the talents of an incremental change agent are sorely needed. Such change has been transforming, witness the evolving role of women in American society, and rights and acceptance of the LGBTQ community.

We’ve made progress abroad as well. There is no way Israel’s PM Bibi Netanyahu would agree to a permanent cease fire with Hamas, given Bibi’s political survival and the Hamas atrocities of last October. What is possible, as Biden is pursuing, is a cessation of hostilities long enough for an exchange of prisoners and provision of relief in the face of mass starvation.

The prospect of a Biden-Trump choice has pushed pundits to fanciful theories into how the 46th president could be replaced. Get real, I say. The “stark choice” is with us to stay and it is time for wishful thinkers to “get their minds around” the facts that it will be Biden and the “Orange One,” who sees himself — and followers see him — as an instrument of vengeance.

Can we afford to flirt with the pretenders? Once an environmental lawyer, Bobby Kennedy, Jr., has become a professional celebrity — treading on the family name — and is now an anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theorist. Cornel West is an academic and rapper who applied the everybody-is-sellout-but-me-doctrine on race to Obama. Jill Stein, feted in Russia, may again raise the Green Party banner.  If the election is a horse race, this gang flunks the urinalysis.

We are always searching for new heroes on horseback. Can we afford that indulgence this year? Not at the top, but on the way up.  I’m donating to a PAC called Leaders We Deserve, started by a Parkland massacre survivor, which seeks to boost millennials and Gen. Z candidates at the legislative level. I’ve watched with admiration promising Democrats pass through town — Pennsylvania’s new Gov. Josh Shapiro, North Carolina gubernatorial hopeful Josh Stein, and Georgia Sen. Ralph Warnock.

There are young leaders, and young voters are making a difference in down-ballot races. The country is not consigned to a geriatric leadership. At the moment, however, Trump looms like a banyan tree over the Republican Party: nothing is able to grow beneath it.

With the country under threat, can we afford excesses and alienation on the left? When Vice President Kamala Harris talked of a ceasefire in Gaza, The Stranger sniffed she is “less genocidal than Biden.” Such is not language to mobilize America against a threat to the Republic.

Joel Connelly
Joel Connelly
I worked for Seattle Post-Intelligencer from 1973 until it ceased print publication in 2009, and from 2009 to 6/30/2020. During that time, I wrote about 9 presidential races, 11 Canadian and British Columbia elections‎, four doomed WPPSS nuclear plants, six Washington wilderness battles, creation of two national Monuments (Hanford Reach and San Juan Islands), a 104 million acre Alaska Lands Act, plus the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.


  1. Strongly disagree. It’s a primary, not a general election — a time for party members to use their voices to influence their candidates.After 100,000 Michigan Democrats voted “uncommitted,” the Biden administration finally began calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. In other words, the pressure campaign had the desired effect. Hopefully, younger Dems will return to “the fold” in the general election. But this kind of curmudgeonly scolding won’t help.

    • I sure hope it did not have the desired effect. He was talking cease fire back in February 26. He can call for it as often as anyone wants him to, that’s no problem – it would be mighty convenient for him if they did it, and I’m sure he’s let them know.

      It would arguably suicidal for Biden to look like he’s hostage to this faction, the general public’s view of which makes Connelly’s account look charitable. That’s true for politicians in general – Alessandro-Cortez, Sanders, they all know better than to carry this crowd’s banner, but Biden especially because he isn’t “running in a safe district.”

  2. A fine analysis in many ways, though I’m not pleased with what I consider the use of (or ‘throwing around’) the term ‘left,’ because I think it’s both undefined and over-used. To be clear, I’m left-of-center and a progressive in its once-true sense, but I do my best to think and pay attention. Please explain ‘left’ instead of using it as a ‘cover’ instead of a careful statement, or even a not-very-careful statement. It’s too often used as name-calling, of which we do not need more. I think incremental or moderate change has been ‘pushed along’ by radical actions along the way. Drawing attention to issues, even in ways that many people may not like, has its purpose, I think, even though I know full well that political changes in this society rarely happen quickly.

  3. Great column, Joel! Democrats, whether progressive, far left, Palestinians, moderate. Black, young or Hispanic (or worriers about age and Kamala) to face reality: it’s Biden or Trump. Biden has governed well and is healthy enough to work tirelessly directing policy on Gaza, Ukraine, the budget and trying to get Trumpified House Republicans to do the right thing on the border (admittedly, after neglecting it for three years.) If Trump wins, Putin, Xi, the Ayatollah and Kim win and our allies are menaced. Hispanic citizens, Dreamers and legitimate asylum seekers will be caught up in his mass deportation plans, the federal bureaucracy will be transformed into loyal agents wedded to.Trump and not serving the public. Adversaries of Trump will be prosecuted. Violent MAGAs will feel free to attack anyone their Duce criticizes. It’s a choice between democracy and fascism. So Dems should think, put grievance aside and help save our nation.

    • Both candidates and their supporters believe that if the other is elected, doomsday will result, and both are wrong. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this before. (Well, Lyndon Johnson did run the Daisy Ad once. From the Library of Congress: Unfortunately, we’re going to have six more months of dystopian prophecies like these from both sides, and it’s not going to be pleasant.

  4. Good column, Joel.
    At some point Joe Biden and the Bidenistas decided to play the ‘inside game’ with Israel in order stay in the room with Bibi Netanyahu and it has bitten him on the butt with the impatient far left. Biden and Blinken thought they could maneuver Israel into a more pragmatic response after its understandable initial primal rage.
    If Biden had heeded the call for a much more aggressive posture off the bat, Netanyahu, who much prefers Donald Trump, would have thrust himself, again, into the American election and engaged America’s staunchest far-right, pro-Israel political donors. The political conversation would have been far different and more polarizing, if possible.

  5. Excellent, reflective column as usual. But don’t ignore the reality that Biden is old, and don’t ignore the reality that the Christian Right has gone bonkers and is supporting Israel because of something in the Bible. The Christian Right is 30 million strong (I’ve heard). Biden (I’ve read) is worried about alienating that political chunk of people – who support Trump.
    I say that because if something were to happen to Biden, like a stroke, even this year, Kamala Harris would be president. She was a symbolic choice for VP – first woman of color in such a position. We cannot afford symbolic now. Focus, please, on getting a new slate for the election. Show Democrats are serious about governing, not optics.
    And Israel IS committing genocide and we ARE complicit because we DO provide the bombs.


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