I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue. Donald Trump’s idea of finishing on a high note involves fantasizing about beating up Joe Biden and pandering to a mob telling him to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci. Meanwhile, Joe Biden’s closing act involved talk of closing down the oil industry, followed by a paean to socialism tweeted by his running mate.
In case you missed it, Harris sent out a cartoon video that ends with her saying, “Equitable treatment means we all end up at the same place.” The camera then pans to the words, “Biden-Harris, 2020.” We all end up at the same place? That’s Commie talk! Besides that, it’s politically tone-deaf. This tweet couldn’t wait 48 hours?
Most Americans, it’s safe to say, believe in equality of opportunity. What we don’t believe in is equality of outcome. To be sure, there are systemic impediments that need to be addressed to ensure equality of opportunity. But we can’t (and shouldn’t) guarantee “we all end up at the same place.”
That’s because some people work harder. Or longer. Or maybe they’re smarter. Maybe they invent something brilliant that I can’t invent. If you cure cancer (or invent the COVID-19 vaccine), then you probably deserve an extra scoop of ice cream, a nicer car, and a bigger house. People even make sacrifices in order to get paid more. Some are willing to hit the books instead of the bong. Others work a dangerous job that I’m not willing to do. Others work crazy long hours, while being my kids’ dad is the most important job I’ll ever have (I’m pandering here, but it’s true). People who have more experience or expertise—or people who work longer or harder or smarter—deserve to be compensated accordingly. THAT IS FAIRNESS.
But it’s not just fair, it’s smart. It’s smart because it’s a system that incentivizes competition and hard work. Harris wants to make sure everyone “can be on equal footing,” which sounds noble, but the only way that happens is with a little something called (wait for it!) income redistribution.
And income redistribution seems like a very weird message to push right before an election where your main strategy has been largely based on avoiding anything crazy or controversial. Is this really the closing message Harris wants to leave us with? Is this a message that’s going to appeal to voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida who might still be a little uneasy about the modern Democratic Party?
Now, it’s perfectly legitimate to run for office as a socialist. But Bernie lost trying that. Remember?!? “Look, I’m the guy that ran against the socialist,” Biden recently reminded us. Maybe Harris didn’t get the memo? I wonder if she’s aware that Florida is one of the most important states, and that, oh yeah, the Cuban-American vote might be particularly turned off by this? Does she really want to end the campaign having voters contemplate… that socialism's body count is even higher than COVID’s?
Granted, it probably won’t be enough to make a difference. Lots of people have already voted. Besides, Trump has spent four years trying to lose. But that doesn’t mean it’s smart. Indeed, it shows a level of staggering incompetence that could be a harbinger of things to come. For one thing, it suggests a campaign that is in danger of misreading its mandate if they win.
Americans may want to get rid of Trump, but socialism isn’t what they’re signing up for when they vote for Biden.
Regardless of whether this costs him at the polls, it certainly confirms my decision not to cast my lot with either camp. Trump is disqualified for being a bad person; Biden is disqualified for being in a bad party with bad ideas.
Not to be all solipsistic on the most important political day on the calendar, but covering this campaign as a conservative columnist at a mainstream outlet has been a rather thankless job (at least it’ll all be over soon, right?). How do you cover this campaign as an intellectually honest observer? One option is to become a liberal, which has the advantage of a large, built-in fan base but—aside from abandoning your principles—the net result is that liberal-leaning readers would be exposed to zero philosophical diversity. Another option is to reflexively defend Trump, which means defending the indefensible.
Of course, you could praise Trump when he’s right, which I do. But that happens so infrequently as to generate maybe a dozen columns a year. The final option is to criticize the left, which I relish. The problem here is that it’s election season, and the Biden-Harris campaign has, with the help of a pandemic and a compliant press corps, maintained amazing message discipline.
Until, for reasons that defy me, now.
If you were expecting Michael Jordan to hit the jump shot at the buzzer, look elsewhere. Barack Obama isn’t on the ticket, and Ronald Reagan isn’t walking through that door. Joe Biden is slouching toward Pennsylvania Avenue.