At the Poor People’s Campaign’s presidential forum tonight, former Vice President Joe Biden took a shot at Sen. Bernie Sanders when he was asked about cooperating with Republicans to pass legislation.
“Folks, look, if you start off with the notion there’s nothing you can do [to work with Republicans], well, might you all go home then, man?” Biden said, according to the New York Times. “Or let’s start a real, physical revolution if you’re talking about it. Because we have to be able to change what we’re doing within our system.”
This is clearly insane. As obvious as it is that the current Republican party has no interest in helping the American people, it’s also pretty clear that there are major things we could do to change our system short of taking up arms against the government. We could end the electoral college. We could make Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. states. We could end the filibuster. We could add justices to the Supreme Court. We could have more serious action on gerrymandering.
All of these measures would restore some level of democratic balance to our government, allowing us to ignore the extremists of the current Republican party, who don’t represent the views of the majority of Americans.
But apparently Biden sees all that as beyond the pale. He just wants to get down to business with his good pal Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has described himself as the “grim reaper” of progressive policies in Congress.
It’s equally absurd for Biden to pretend that Sanders’ talk of a “political revolution” has even a hint of physical violence. Sanders is talking about mobilizing mass numbers of people who currently feel disenfranchised by the system and using their mandate to make dramatic changes to our politics. That’s all. He’s not a scary far-left authoritarian. In fact, he’d be considered a centrist in most other developed countries.
The Poor People’s Campaign is a movement that was started by Martin Luther King, Jr. before his death and was revived to focus on the issues of poverty and systemic racism in the U.S. Say what you want about the primary contenders, but Medicare for All, regulating Wall Street, and a $15 minimum wage—Bernie’s platform—would go a whole hell of a lot further towards ending those problems than Biden’s lofty ideas about bipartisanship.