the immense challenge of Joe Biden

"World" editorial. The third attempt was the right one for Joe Biden. The 77-year-old former vice president of Barack Obama, already a candidate in 1988 and 2008, officially won the Democratic nomination contest for the US presidential election. He will have the heavy task of facing Donald Trump in November. The last hurdle was removed, with the retirement on Wednesday April 8 of Bernie Sanders. The independent senator from Vermont ran into a useful vote in favor of his opponent, particularly among the African American electorate. However, Joe Biden has not yet lifted all the questions that weigh on his ability to assemble a coalition capable of defeating in the ballot boxes an outgoing president resolutely tied to power.

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Paradoxically, the winner of the Democratic primary did not win the battle of ideas. On the contrary, it was Bernie Sanders who triumphed over this field, yet lost over that of electoral strategy. Voters have often endorsed the proposals of the independent senator, including the creation of universal social security led by the federal state, a subject which is finding new momentum with the coronavirus crisis. But they also considered that the intransigence of the "Socialist democrat" supporter of a "Political revolution" – not to mention some of his past stance on the Soviet Union and its epigones – made him a worse messenger for the November election.

Little choice

Faced with the Trump machine, while the Republican Party has elevated the neutralization of voting by social minorities who are unfavorable to it, Joe Biden has little choice. It must retain at all costs the moderate voters of peri-urban areas, repulsed by the personality of the outgoing president. These voters allowed the Democrats to take control of the House in November 2018 and influence the content of the stimulus packages made necessary by the health crisis today.

But the ex-vice-president must also attract the sympathizers of Bernie Sanders, and in particular the generation sacrificed of the crisis of the subprimes, in 2008. These young voters supported massively the senator of Vermont and rightly refuse a status quo whose they have been victims for more than a decade.

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Joe Biden did not wait for Bernie Sanders' resignation to speak to them emphatically. He was not content with words, since he already modified his program in mid-March to offer greater access to higher education for the disadvantaged classes. On Thursday, he also promised the abolition of student debts for the low income and middle class. He also suggested extending the federal Medicare health coverage program by lowering the eligibility threshold from 65 to 60 years of age.

This reactivity should be noted, even if Joe Biden will certainly have to go further to overcome the reluctance that his centrism feeds on the left, especially on the nagging question of the deep American inequalities faced with the disease.

The shock caused by the pandemic, like the staggering economic blast it causes, can become a favorable opportunity for the former vice-president: it indeed makes audible, even indispensable, the audacity for which Bernie Sanders pleaded tirelessly. It is now up to Joe Biden to demonstrate that he has been underestimated too often and that he is capable of rising to the occasion.

The world


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