One’s politics is often determined by the politics of their parents. Such is the case with me. My father was born in 1928 to small farmers in rural Virginia, and my mother in 1930 to a jack-of-all-trades handyman. The Great Depression hit both families hard, to a degree that is difficult for folk today to understand. At the height of the Depression the unemployment rate was 25%, and the very idea of capitalism was in question.
But then came FDR and the New Deal. An avalanche of alphabet-soup-named government agencies was stood up to fight the misery wrought by the Great Depression: the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Public Works Administration (PWA), the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), among many others. My parents’ families were direct beneficiaries of these programs, and due to the good works of these programs they became lifelong Democrats. Specifically, my father’s household began to enjoy the blessings of electricity in 1940 thanks to the REA. They learned that the federal government could be a force for good, and could improve the lives of ordinary folks like you and me.
And this history brings me to the March 3 Super Tuesday Democratic primaries and the 2020 general election.
I would prefer not to vote for a septuagenarian candidate, but all three of the remaining viable candidates are in their 70s (Biden, Sanders, Trump). You got to play hand you got, not the hand you want. And let me be clear up front: If the Democrats nominate a clump of salt water kelp for president, I am going to vote for the kelp. This may make it seem that I hate Mr. Trump to the point of losing reason and rationality. I do not care. I do not hate Mr. Trump (may he have a long and anonymous retirement starting as soon as possible). I loathe Mr. Trump. I have loathed Mr. Trump ever since the 1990s when he was still a Democrat and thought it was a good idea to invite Bill and Hillary Clinton to his third wedding.
Of the other septuagenarians, I go with Mr. Biden. He is old, he is an old school Democrat, and he is a loveable gaffe-prone coot. But I like him. He was first elected to the Senate from Delaware in 1972 at the age of 29 (the Constitution requires that Senators be 30 years old; Biden turned 30 between his election and the date he was sworn in to the Senate). He famously lived in his home state and commuted to DC by train every day.
Bernie? Another old coot, but much less loveable. Would any of his pie-in-the-sky policies have a ghost of a chance of passing Congress? Heck no, and hail to Congress for asserting its prerogatives to block them. Mr. Sanders’ criticisms of the wealth class and the legislative privileges inuring to the wealth class are legitimate, and I am pleased his criticisms are being aired and have an audience. His policy prescriptions, not so much. Medicare for all would be needlessly disruptive because there are lots of folks who like their health coverage just as it is. Maybe medicare for all who want it would be a better policy.
I am unsure what a Biden administration would do, but it would pull in the right direction by my lights. I am sure that a Biden administration would not do the following:
• Pay a pornstar $130,000 to buy her silence;
• Pay $25 million for the privilege of saying that Trump University did nothing wrong;
• Stand next to Vladimir Putin and place Putin’s word over that of the U.S. intelligence community;
• Fall in love with Kim Jong Un.
I want a president who knows what the nuclear triad is. I want a president who knows that Frederick Douglass died over a century ago. I want a president who understands that import tariffs are a tax paid by Americans, not China. And most of all, I want a president who is not a jerk.
Darrell Allen is an attorney specializing in criminal defense and employment law. Politically, he is diametrically opposed to his wife of 25 years. He lives north of I-40 where he and his family run two head of dog, and one of cat.