During the Democratic primary, entrepreneur Andrew Yang built a bit of a reputation as an interesting, blunt voice on American politics. So it’s perhaps not surprising that, on the final night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Yang had the sharpest analysis on what makes Joe Biden an effective candidate in this year’s cycle.
“The magic of Joe Biden is that everything he does becomes the new reasonable,” Yang said during a roundtable discussion among former 2020 contenders. “If he comes with an ambitious template to address climate change, all of a sudden, everyone is going to follow his lead.”
During the Democratic primary, Biden was often described as the half-measures moderate in the field. But if you look beyond political labels to the meat of the policy Biden is proposing, his agenda is shockingly ambitious.
He’s proposing a significant expansion of government health care that includes a public option and has floated a climate plan that would decarbonize the US economy by 2035. Waleed Shahid, the communications director for Justice Democrats, told Vox that Biden’s policy slate is “the most progressive platform of any Democratic nominee in the modern history of the party.”
President Trump has tried to run with this, arguing that Biden is a “Trojan horse” for leftists like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But polls show that voters see Biden as more moderate than Trump himself.
“It’s an argument that founders since Americans just watched Biden win an extended primary campaign in which he was repeatedly assailed for failing to meet various progressive litmus tests,” my colleague Matt Yglesias writes. “Biden won the primary handily by convincingly slapping a moderate label on a policy agenda that is nonetheless far bolder than the one pursued by Barack Obama or proposed by Hillary Clinton in 2016.”
This is what Yang is pointing to. Biden is proposing an incredibly progressive policy agenda and a massive government mobilization to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
But he still seems like the safe choice, in contrast to Trumpian chaos, because he’s a familiar face with a moderate reputation — earned, in part, by more moderate votes in the Senate earlier in his career.
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