Biden and Bernie –– The Debate

Even though Bernie’s chances of being the nominee are between slim and zero, he has chosen to stay in the race, and will debate Biden Sunday as planned. Bernie has an obligation to refrain from saying anything that would hurt Biden in the general election. He has a patriotic and moral duty to try to raise Biden’s stature. Subject to this stricture, he has plenty of room to legitimately argue that Democrats should pursue more progressive policies and to try to inspire the Democrats to move in that direction. 

A principal goal of Biden’s should be to inspire confidence in his candidacy among Bernie supporters. He can do that by acknowledging the great service Bernie has done by shining a bright light on big money corruption of politicians and on the shocking and destructive rise of income inequality in this country. Biden should outdo Bernie in this respect by citing statistics and instances with specificity that has been lacking in Bernie’s arguments. 

Biden can rightly assert that he and Bernie largely share the same goals, but he can and should point out that Bernie’s dreams would not be translated into reality: they are not achievable politically, and they are full of holes economically. Biden should explain how and why he can advance progressive agendas more efrectively than Bernie could, and how he intends to do so. Biden’s performance should be notable for equanimity, steadfastness, patience, meticulousness, affirmation of common purpose, and absence of rancor. Let’s hope Bernie’s is as well.