Coronavirus, the devastating global pandemic named after the La Croix of beers, didn’t stop the Democratic debate, which I honestly expected to be a “which white man could shout the loudest” debate and I was pleasantly surprised.
Which brings me to the first shocking moment of Sunday’s debate between former Vice President Joe Biden and independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders: the empty crowd. When I first learned that Biden and Sanders were going to be debating without an audience, I thought this was a horrible idea. Debate, much like the canceled NBA season, is an audience sport. I love all the ohhs and awws; I live for the boos and the applause. So the idea that both Biden and Sanders were going to be spitting a capella seemed like an album I wasn’t really checking for. But, and this is a big but, an audience-less debate was fire. I could actually hear both candidates clearly. I could hear the moderators, who normally would be tussling with the crowd to be heard. I don’t know how this might play out long-term but the big winner of the night was America, which I know feels hollow considering we are all trapped in the house with only hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes to battle the Thanos of viruses, but the debate committee might want to take a hard look at permanently holding debates without an audience.
Biden smoked Sanders and it wasn’t even close. Look, my favorites in this whole thing got smoked a long time ago, so I don’t have a dog in this fight. I’m not really a fan of either of these men. Joe Biden’s “I’ll punch anything that doesn’t agree with me” is just old man, toxic masculinity bullshit that is tiring and ineffective, and Sanders’ curmudgeonly always annoyed empty rhetoric just feels blah.
With that as the template, Biden won this debate and it wasn’t even close. Was Biden stellar, polished and refined? Fuck no. But when has he ever been? But Biden was clear and concise. What Biden did with a nice delegate lead was effectively hold serve, while painting Sanders into a corner. Using the clusterfuck that is the Trump administration as the jumping off point, Biden took shots at Sanders’ idealistic approach to governing noting,
“People want results, not a revolution,” Biden said. “We have problems we have to solve now — now,” he said. “What’s the revolution going to do? Disrupt everything in the meantime?”
It’s true. It’s like when you’re high and you really just want some Cool Ranch Doritos and your homeboy keeps talking about the white supremacists infrastructure and how it was designed to hold us back and you’re thinking, “Nigga, how is any of this going to help us get at these Doritos?!”
That’s what Biden did last night. He reminded us that on a normal day in a normal setting we can absolutely look at a revolution but ain’t shit normal right now. So right now we’re just trying to get us some Cool Ranch. Or as psychologist Abraham Maslow noted in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation,” a person’s most basic needs must be met before they are expected to achieve higher level needs, and right now, in the face of devastation and impending doom, a full on revolution feels like a higher level need.
It should be noted that Sanders thrives off the crowd; they help get him going and show him—while debating—what’s working and what’s not. Sanders is like a singer who gets hype when the crowd is really feeling his song so he starts going on impromptu runs and remixes just to hype it up a bit longer. The absence of a crowd really hurt Sanders.
Don’t get it twisted: Joe Biden is full of shit. He didn’t apologize to Anita Hill for the way he treated her and allowed her to be treated during Clarence Thomas’ vetting for the Supreme Court until he absolutely had to. Biden chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee in which Hill testified that Thomas sexually harassed her. Biden allowed Hill to be bullied. Biden allowed all of the men on the committee to rake Hill over the coals. This was in 1991. Biden has talked several times over the years about how that’s a day he wishes he could have back, but you want to know when he apologized to Hill? Right before he announced that he’d be running for president. So fuck him too.
But that doesn’t mean that women can’t profit off his pandering. Biden knows that he can’t bring out the voters he’s going to need to defeat Trump unless he can create an attractive ticket, and the only way to do that is by adding a woman that America really wants to see in the White House. South Carolina Senator and black godfather of the Southern vote, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, has already said that Biden needs to pick a black woman (looking at you, Stacey Abrams), so Biden knows what he’s got to do. Last night’s admission that a woman would be his eventual pick for vice president wasn’t shocking but the admission at the debate was. It completely stammered Sanders, who wasn’t ready to make the same commitment and even if he did, he didn’t get there first.
While there are several candidates for Biden to choose from—hell, some of them were even trying to knock his ass out of the race (looking at you, Kamala Harris—what he can’t do here is go with a bland white woman who wasn’t pulling voters (*cough* Amy Kloubachar *cough*). This pick is monumental and it could decide the presidency, so I suggest that Biden use it wisely.
The one that really got an audible gasp from the ghost crowd (fine, no one was there but I was watching with Black Twitter and they gasped) when Biden noted that he would put a black woman on the Supreme Court and the only notable name here is...Anita Hill. Yes, there are several highly qualified black women deserving of this position, but there was only one whose name was dragged through the mud for telling her truth by the same man that has the ability to make that right and I think a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land seems fair. Don’t you?!