- The Washington Times - Monday, October 26, 2020

Joseph R. Biden heads into the final week of the presidential campaign having successfully held together an uneasy alliance with the Democratic Party’s far-left wing that fully supports knocking President Trump out of office — if not electing Mr. Biden.

Liberal groups that appeared to be on the brink of declaring “never Biden” during the 2020 primaries now say the mission is to elect Democrats on Nov. 3, making the case that none of their agenda can be enacted without a Democrat-controlled Congress and White House.

“The reality is this election is a referendum on Donald Trump, period, end of story,” said Neil Sroka, a spokesman for the advocacy group Democracy for America. “This election — it’s about issues, and one of the issues is getting rid of Donald Trump.”

Mr. Sroka’s group endorsed Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont in both the 2016 and 2020 Democratic primaries.

Mr. Sanders himself is now all-in for Mr. Biden, saying the 2020 election is partly about “defeating the most dangerous president in modern American history.”

The challenge for Mr. Biden, should he win the White House, would be to keep his base united as a governing coalition or else surrender to the far left’s takeover of the Democratic Party.

“I really don’t care right now whether you are a progressive, as we are, or a moderate, or even a conservative,” said Mr. Sanders, a self-described “democratic socialist” from Vermont. “Trump must go because he is an insult to American democracy.”

Mr. Sanders was speaking as part of a “unity town hall” organized by the Biden campaign. The event also included appearances by Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, who co-chair the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.

Ms. Jayapal and Mr. Pocan endorsed Mr. Sanders in the primary, and Ms. Pressley endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

The wave of support comes even as Mr. Biden has taken pains to prove he’s not a closet socialist, including pointing out that he defeated Mr. Sanders, who champions policies such as a “Medicare for All” government takeover of health care.

At last week’s presidential debate, Mr. Biden said Mr. Trump thinks he’s running against somebody else after the president accused Mr. Biden of wanting to institute “socialized medicine.”

“He’s running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Biden gave a similar answer in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” when asked about the notion that he would be a “Trojan horse” for liberals.

But Mr. Biden at times has molded his political views to where the energy in his party has been throughout his lengthy political career.

He now says he regrets some of the tough-on-crime policies he championed as a U.S. senator after his Democratic primary opponents this year voiced concerns about the 1994 crime bill he helped write.

Mr. Biden’s shifting stance last year on federal funding for abortion amounted to what former Obama campaign guru David Axelrod called a “flip-flop-flip.”

Mr. Biden had appeared to tell an American Civil Liberties Union activist that he would work to abolish the Hyde Amendment, which generally bars taxpayer funding from being used to pay for abortions, before his campaign clarified in June 2019 that he still supported it.

But Mr. Biden then said that he was dropping his support for the amendment, citing recent Republican pushes to restrict abortion as coloring his thinking. At the same time, his more liberal rivals were loudly voicing their opposition as well.

Liberals hope that they will be able to engage in similar lobbying efforts when it comes to Medicare for All or the “Green New Deal” economic makeover to fight climate change, which Mr. Biden has not explicitly endorsed.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan vowed to “impeach the motherf—er,” referring to Mr. Trump, shortly before the current Congress convened in 2019. Now she says voters need to make the election “too big to rig.”

She described Mr. Biden and other candidates on the ballot as “doors,” or a means to an end.

“They’re not our destination. Our destination is to get the Green New Deal passed,” she said at an event hosted by the Sunrise Movement, the climate-focused youth activist group that endorsed Mr. Sanders in the primary. “It’s about getting a door that we can [creak] open and bust out if we need to.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez predicted over the weekend that young voters will turn out for Mr. Biden, pointing out that the alternative — four more years of Mr. Trump — is unacceptable to them.

“They are not here with the intent of voting for their favorite person or voting for someone that they think is perfect as president,” the New York Democrat said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I think young people are actually quite disciplined, and quite realistic and pragmatic in their vote.”

Ms. Warren, one of Mr. Biden’s liberal rivals in the primaries, said last week that progressives need to hold Mr. Biden’s feet to the fire, if elected, on appointing “bold” leaders to federal agencies and Cabinet positions.

“What people stand up and cheer for are progressive ideas,” Ms. Warren said. “Nobody stands in line for a bowl of warm mush.”

Ms. Warren was speaking at a fundraising event hosted by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which endorsed her in the primary but is shifting gears to give Mr. Biden a boost, while also supporting more liberal down-ballot candidates and progressive causes.

“If you volunteer an hour, think of it as volunteering an hour for Joe and Kamala, absolutely, and for your Senate candidate, for your House candidate,” Ms. Warren said. “But also think of it as volunteering an hour for canceling student loan deb … for universal child care … for expanding Social Security payments or campaign finance reform.”

Justice Democrats, the advocacy group that helped propel Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and other liberals into office, sent out an email blast to supporters Monday urging them to sign a petition calling on Mr. Biden not to appoint any Republicans to his Cabinet.

“This country is calling out desperately for Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, student and medical debt cancellation, and so much more,” the email said. “If Republicans are appointed to a Biden Cabinet, it makes our progressive priorities even more difficult to achieve.”

Democracy for America’s Mr. Sroka said there should be some “low-hanging fruit” such as legislation to expand gun-purchase background checks and protect illegal immigrant “Dreamers” that could be early priorities for a Democratic-controlled Washington next year.

“Part of what I would hope would happen after Inauguration Day, should Biden win and the key is having a Senate majority, is that we can finally break through the dam that has halted all vital legislation in the United States Senate,” he said. “We are going to [be] pushing for this potential Biden administration to deliver for the progressive base of voters who are essential to winning this election.”

He stressed that for the moment they are focused on the election and in particular “protecting the vote” from “shenanigans” on the part of the president and the GOP.

For now, that attitude is holding the coalition together.

“The polling, the voting, the contributing, all the metrics we would look at right now — nothing seems to indicate he’s having a problem with the left,” Floyd Ciruli, a Colorado-based pollster, said of Mr. Biden.

He did say that antipathy toward Mr. Trump, “who goes out of his way to infuriate the left,” and not necessarily love for Mr. Biden is what is preserving the loose coalition.

“He does have a problem with I think younger people in general and it’s kind of an enthusiasm factor of getting motivated to turn out, but so much is based on dislike of the president,” he said.

Seth McLaughlin contributed to this report.

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