Tomorrow, former Vice President Joe Biden will probably finally announce he’s running for president (again). National media pundits have already been on a feeding frenzy these last three months, playing the usual “will he or won’t he” parlor game. Yet for those of us who’ve been trying to grasp the real issues and real stakes of both the upcoming election and all the current event that will affect the election, we’ve just been trying to listen to the candidates who have already been running and have already been offering real policy ideas while the pundits were speculating over who’s been saying what about whom.
We’re going through some very serious stuff in America right now, so it’s time for us to drop the “silly season” melodrama and focus on what truly matters here.
While we’re obsessing over the next presidential election, we’re still suffering the consequences of the last one.
Last Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department finally released a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his investigation into the Russian hacking of our 2016 election. Mueller’s findings mostly confirmed what’s already been reported on President Donald Trump, his network of allies and associates, and their intricate ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his network of kleptocratic allies. And while Mueller punted on prosecuting many of the crimes that are documented in his report, he did provide a clear road map for Congress to go ahead and do what he declined to do.
The day after the report dropped, U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, “The report is absolutely clear that a foreign government attacked our electoral system to help Donald Trump. He welcomed that help. And then when it was investigated by our own federal authorities Donald Trump took multiple steps to try to obstruct justice.” On Twitter, on MSNBC, then on CNN this past Monday, Warren explained why she decided to call for Trump’s impeachment.
Also on CNN Monday night, fellow U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris (D-California) declared, “I believe Congress should take the steps toward impeachment […] It is very clear that there is a lot of good evidence pointing to obstruction.” Thus far, most other Democratic candidates, including fellow Senators Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), have declined to endorse impeachment, and have instead talked up their ability to defeat Trump in next year’s election.
Remember this: We’re looking at foreign interference in our last presidential election, and at the larger rap sheet of corrupt and criminal activities that are connected to this foreign interference in our 2016 election. We’re also looking at the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to openly flout our Constitution and our American tradition of the rule of law. If Congress simply “takes a pass” and Democrats simply hope this “gets resolved in the next election”, are they simply making it too easy for the same “bad actors” to repeat in 2020 what they successfully pulled off in 2016?
Say it ain’t so, Joe.
Against this backdrop of this very serious debate over crime and justice, we’re still being subjected to a whole lot of pomp and circumstance. Why, oh why, are we still talking about what “the Democratic establishment” is saying about Bernie Sanders and his “electability”? Why must we give any more attention to self-immolating hypocrites who wrap their homophobic attacks on Pete Buttigieg in sanctimony and “beef stew”? And really, why must we obsess over the timing of Joe Biden’s long(-long-long-long)-awaited campaign launch and Philadelphia fundraising reception?
When Biden finally does declare himself a contender, he will have plenty to answer for on a wide range of topics, from his respect for women’s rights to his approach to racial equity and his record on economic justice. He doesn’t have to answer for a suddenly liked-then-unliked tweet, and hardly anyone outside the D.C. pundit world wants answers on who’s showing up for that Philadelphia fundraising reception.
Voters do, however, deserve answers on the above-mentioned real issues, and they absolutely deserve answers on the clear and present danger to our (“small-d”) democratic system that we’re facing right here and right now. Some candidates have begun providing answers, and Biden and the rest of them have a whole lot of catching up to do. No matter what we think of Biden’s long wait to make his big announcement, democracy can’t wait on Biden or any of these other Democrats to indulge in “silly season” melodrama while punting on the real-life horror show that’s happening in the White House now.