Joe Biden is the (Accidentally) Perfect Candidate

“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” — Bob Ross

The 2020 Democratic primary field was wonderful palette of choices for voters. Forward looking, qualified and diverse in gender, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation, the group was a testament to the strength of the party. Tulsi Gabbard ran as well. The others were a tangible representation of the building coalition/wave that will ultimately crash upon the calcified, pocked, and intellectually bankrupt modern Republican Party.

Photo from REUTERS

Voters were almost completely overwhelmed by the vibrant colors on their palette after so many years of various shades of beige they had been tasked with turning into bold masterworks. In fact, the sudden and vivid options at their disposal led to an anxiety state. What hue to work with to compete with the glossy black frame of Donald Trump? A man whose vision was so opaque, thin and shiny that it acted as a dark mirror of comfort for millions? This anxiety bred strong emotions. After all, a debate between Khaki, Desert Sand and Tuscan is a spirited discussion over hue, while arguing between yellow, blue and green is more fundamental and easily ratcheted up to expletives and spittle.

Among the exciting assortment was another color. Some might call it brown. Burnt Umber if you are feeling generous. This was good ‘ol Joe Biden. Long time US Senator, two-term Vice President and the first choice of seemingly no one. Or second choice. A candidate whose time had passed and was just too much of a “no malarkey” nice guy to take on the inevitable scorched-earth Trump 2020 campaign. A man whose pleas of “bringing people together” seemed woefully naïve of the times, particularly when delivered with the watery-eyed pleading tone of a grandfather watching his children fight over who inherits the antique hutch.

More than anything, Democratic and anti-Trump Republicans were looking for someone who could fight. Who would match and conquer the maw of disinformation, distortions, character assassinations and well-timed cut downs that while sophomoric, were expertly delivered like a knife between the ribs? (See: Rubio, “Little” Marco)

Complicating things, a great swath was also seeking a candidate that would profoundly change the status quo through an aggressive progressive agenda. And as always, there was the hunger for someone new. Joseph Biden was none of these.

However, by luck or design, the Biden campaign announcement video laid the foundation of his campaign on the proposition that President Trump was a fundamentally bad person and bad President. Policy be dammed, four more years of Donald Trump would change the very fabric of the country — an intolerable proposition. In this, the required antithetical traits to Trump were defined: experience, competence, intelligence, humility, compassion, empathy, knowledge, cooperative world view and anti-authoritarian ideals.

After bouncing around the bottom of polling and eliciting innumerable eye rolls after stilted debate performances, Biden’s press began the pre-corpse circling, eagerly preparing to publish his political obituary. Never more so than after Kamala Harris handed him an easy beating that seemed to reinforce the notion that Trump would absolutely eviscerate Biden on the debate stage. But in another stroke of luck or more likely the result of experience and insight, Biden published an op-ed warning to the country about the Coronavirus in January. As Trump has careened on Corona, this early move telegraphed a competence and understanding of how government can be used for good, particularly in national crisis.

As the opening contests presented a potential future where there was no consensus, a brokered convention or perhaps a Bernie Sanders candidacy, suddenly there was South Carolina. A strong debate performance coupled with a strong win suddenly (very suddenly) placed Biden in a new light. Rather than a glop of brown, the collective aspects of the man began to reveal themselves. Continuing the color analogy, brown is the mix of red, yellow and blue. The amalgam may not seem exciting, but it carries many colors within. In the face of Trump and the Republican’s every quickening pace of non-, mis-, and malfeasance, Biden began to receive second (and third and fourth) looks.

Credit: Moonleaf Studios

Sensing a moment of Nash equilibrium where the best choice personally was also the best choice for the group, numerous Democratic candidates dropped and cleared the path for the former VP. Against any other Republican incumbent, Biden would likely have been an afterthought of the electorate. As fate would have it, his personal and political characteristics made him the perfect antithesis, the perfect antidote to Donald Trump and his acolytes. His campaign did not really do anything other than keep him in the mix and destiny did the rest. This certainly does not mean he is exciting or thrills from the podium. Biden is much more antidote than magic elixir, and that is exactly what the country needs for the next four years.

The pandemic, George Floyd/BLM protests, economic hardships and geopolitical embarrassments have only sharpened the relief between Trump/Trumpism and what Biden brings to the body politic. Unfortunately, the far left has been as unhinged as the far right in their reaction to his presumptive nomination. Well followed and Medium curated Lauren Martincheck describes Biden as “dangerous,” insisting that his election will change nothing and that we are all fooling ourselves to believe “the election of Joe Biden in his [Trump’s] place will do anything to prevent an even worse version of the crisis we’re in from happening.” She, along with others on the platform, referred to the former Vice President as a “fucking rapist” when there is zero, zero evidence of such. Beatrice Phi characterized Biden as “evil” and intends to improve the country by staying home on election day. There are many others (who curiously get significantly more play on the Medium platform than pro-Biden pieces) who insist the choice between Biden and Trump is between hues of beige rather that a clear choice between dystopian dark and progressive light. They are a group that perpetually rejects progress to quixotically pursue perfection achieving nothing in return. Meanwhile, for all their flaws, the Kennedy’s, Johnson’s, Obama’s and Biden’s bend the arc of history toward progress. Toward good.

Joe Biden’s deep empathy, borne of unimaginable personal tragedy, his long history in the federal government and his competence to make it operate well and his fundamental belief in the power of good make him the best candidate in this time of national crisis. Never have such intense economic, health, moral and racial challenges fallen upon American simultaneously. On January 1, 2020, Joe Biden was a man whose time had passed. By May 1 he had become the perfect candidate for the moment. President’s Trump’s actions and behavior since May have only reinforced this dynamic.

Joe Biden will never deliver the thrill of Obama. He will never be the champion of the ultra-progressive political vision. He breaks no barriers and his rarely talked about stutter triggers painful gaffes. He is brown on the palette. Yet color psychology will tell you that brown evokes a sense of strength and reliability[1]. Solid like the earth. A color associated with resilience, dependability, security and safety.

After these painful years and the nearly unimaginable events of 2020, is there anyone whose life has prepared them more for this critical moment in history?

Former Vice President Joe Biden. | Matt Rourke/AP Photo

[1] https://www.verywellmind.com/the-color-psychology-of-brown

Writer. Pen name. I wish to wander someday.