What gives Biden an edge in Michigan
He also needs Detroit.
This is a Democratic Party fractured in 2016 between the mainstream liberalism of nominee Hillary Clinton, and the progressive politics of US Sen. Bernie Sanders; against a growing social justice movement that believes the party isn’t doing enough to advance the goals of equity and reform it espouses; and a growing dissatisfaction among some Black voters that decades of reliable support for Democratic candidates haven’t resulted in equitable policy.
And this is not any other year.
“This is a little like the last days of the World War I trenches in France. They can send poison tanks, mortar fire, and we can return fire, but we’re not going to take any territory and neither are they,” said Mark Grebner, an Ingham County commissioner and founder of Lansing, Michigan-based Practical Political Consulting, which tracks voters and voting trends in Michigan in an interview last month. “There is no middle ground.”
“I’m a realist, and I think liberals can be too idealistic around identifying the perfect candidate, not understanding that people can shift on their own, but it’s also up to voters to cause people to shift, based on our continued advocacy,” said Gaston, founder of equity consultancy Glidepath Strategies, in an interview earlier this month.
For Gaston, 44, the nominee and eventual president must address the nation’s twin pandemics: Covid-19 and police brutality. She wants a national, coordinated response to the ongoing pandemic, federal leadership and guidance around testing, and an independent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that’s equipped to handle a pandemic, free of any political influence.
She wants to see the Justice in Policing Act passed and signed into law. She wants a compassionate immigration policy that offers a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in this country and also recognizes the need for a more functional immigration system, as well as the urgency around safety for refugees. And she wants federal investment in early childhood education and universal childcare.
From Biden, she hears enough of what she needs. But she’s also a pragmatist.
For Gaston, that’s manifest in Biden’s choice of running mate, US Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. Harris, who is Black and South Asian, is the first mixed race woman at the top of a major party ticket.
It’s the same for Barbara Murray, 74, a former non-profit administrator liberal activist who split her time, before the pandemic, between Detroit and Cheboygan in northern Michigan.
Murray wishes the environment were front and center in Biden’s campaign, but says even without that, there is still no contest.
Record-breaking turnout in the 2018 midterms — also a gubernatorial election year in Michigan — and in the March presidential primary suggest liberal voters are determined to avoid a repeat of 2016. But those numbers look different outside the context of a party primary. Will liberal voters’ determination to defeat Trump stack up against conservatives bent on returning him to office? Will Democrats tu
Nancy Kaffer is a columnist and member of the editorial board at the Detroit Free Press. Her work has appeared in the Free Press, Politico and the Daily Beast. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. View more opinion on CNN.rned off by mainstream party politics turn out for Biden?
In a way, the intense polarization of 2020 offers a reprieve for Democrats struggling to put their party back together: For some voters, Biden’s more than Not Trump. For others, he’s exactly that. But as long as beating Trump is job one, there’s still time to recalibrate.
Nancy Kaffer is a columnist and member of the editorial board at the Detroit Free Press. Her work has appeared in the Free Press, Politico and the Daily Beast. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. View more opinion on CNN.
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