Biden is right about one thing: He cannot allow the media and a tiny segment of nearly all-white voters to pick the nominee of the Democratic Party. He and every other candidate should pledge to change the primary process going forward, but in the meantime, he can make clear that nonwhite voters are not obliged to follow the lead of New Hampshire and Iowa voters.
Along the way, Biden can do two things, both of which are consistent with his own message of decency (“a fight for the soul of the country”) and with making certain President Trump, who showed this week how far he will go to corrupt the judicial system, does not get a second term.
First, he can lay the groundwork for a candidate who is not a white, straight male. While appearing on “The View,” he showed how critical it can be to fight the Republican bigotry machine at every turn:
This is especially significant given Biden’s role in leading the way on gay marriage. Likewise, the next time Sanders suggests that being a woman is an “obstacle” or a “problem” in the race, Biden must pounce. He should not allow the Democratic Party, which will likely rely on women for victory in November, to alienate more than half the electorate. (In New Hampshire, incidentally, women made up 57 percent of the electorate.) Sure, these arguments will inure to his advantage, but they will also keep the Democratic Party together and avoid taking critical elements of their coalition for granted.
Likewise, when Sanders suggests the Democratic National Convention must go along with whoever gets a plurality of delegates (rather than cast their votes as they see fit on the second ballot, if there is one), Biden should set the record straight and remind voters of the Democratic Party’s rules.
The second role Biden can assume, if and when it appears he will not be the nominee, is to play the role of king- or queen-maker. He knows in his bones that Sanders — who has accomplished little or nothing legislatively in Congress despite his grand ideological pronouncements; whose foreign policy track is a nightmare; who cannot explain how to pay for his own grandiose Medicare-for-all plan; and who will chase away all those voters Biden courted in swing House races in 2018 — would effectively hand reelection to Trump. Whether the recipient of his nod is former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) or someone else, Biden can call on his relationships in state and local government, in communities of color and in organized labor to get behind the most electable nominee before it is too late.
This should not be taken as an obituary for Biden; he should be given his chance to mount a comeback. But he must do so in a way that preserves the multi-multiracial, multiethnic composition of the Democratic Party and ensure it will have the best chance possible to beat Trump.