These are the policy choices embedded in each candidate. There is also a temperamental choice to be made.
Trump is chaos theory contained in a man, an explosive combination of complete candor as to what he thinks and feels, a willingness to brawl, an almost animal energy for the fray.
Biden is clearly not that. He is mostly invisible these days, but he hasn’t just lost a step. He’s lost a lap. His White House would be marked by echo-chamber enthusiasts and the control of the appointees he brings along with him, a haphazard and dangerous step for the republic.
With Trump, all will be well in the country and all will be in upheaval inside the Beltway, Manhattan, Silicon Valley and Hollywood.
With Biden, the deep-blue centers of genuine privilege will have their restoration. The White House Correspondents’ Association dinner will regain its luster.
Trump is running against himself. Some days he does well, and on others he doesn’t, as he allows the unfairness of the Beltway game to distract him.
The last three years has been marked by the Beltway elites’ desperate attempts to destroy the president with unprecedented plots and tactics. Even this week, we see the continued assault on the due process rights of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the president’s first national security adviser who pleaded guilty in 2017 to a single count of lying to the FBI, a plea the general now wants to withdraw in light of exculpatory evidence wrongly withheld from him before the plea and which the Justice Department now wants to toss. The elites fight on, trying to ruin Flynn as they continue their assault on the legitimacy of the executive branch.
The Never Trump rump group, meanwhile, amps up their screeds, daily inventing a new way to try to raise each other in a poker game of invective, the likes we have never seen. It reminds me of Robin Williams as Peter Pan in the movie “Hook,” playing the insult game at dinner with the Lost Boys, with just as much effect on the real world.
Nothing has worked to slow Trump down, so now it must be racial politics, the scourge of the nation put not to the service of justice for the poor, who Trump had served quite well with good jobs until the Chinese Communist Party lied about a deadly virus unleashed on the world and upended the blue collar boom. That boom is returning. It would once again lift all communities.
Trump’s team is serious and finally fitted for his temper, which is of course volatile. Developers are rarely shy and retiring. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is the man speaking for Trump and the United States abroad; the Chinese Communist Party and the mullahs of Iran hate him and wish him gone. Robert C. O’Brien is the steady national security adviser making sure, finally, that Trump’s vision (and not that of the traditional D.C. conservative foreign policy elite) is implemented. New chief of staff Mark Meadows, himself a real estate developer, is the match that was needed. The West Wing is working. It’s power fixer was once Rudolph W. Giuliani; it is now Jared Kushner, who delivered prison reform, a peace plan for the Middle East that actually may work and a supply bridge to the regions most pressed by the virus.
With Biden you will get … who, exactly? My bet: “AOC and the Squad” as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her pack of hard-left acolytes are known; but also the restoration of the foreign policy appeasers who see in a nuclear Iran, as they did in 1994 with a nuclear North Korea, inevitability. There will be silky voices and vague assurances about the proper path of history. And then China and Iran will trample all before them. The most malignant authoritarians will again have what they want — predictability, and predictable surrender of U.S. interests — as their backstop. The Obama years of decline will return in force.
Ignore the howling from the usual suspects. This race presents the clearest of choices: Another American century, one in which recovery from the virus is rapid and enduring — or decline. The Constitution and its liberties, guaranteed but separated powers in the three branches and among the states — or a vast bureaucratic web of rules and rulers. You choose.