OPINION: Rip Van Biden Is Learning About The Democratic Party of 2020

Joanne Butler Contributor
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Poor Joe Biden — he took a two-year snooze only to find upon awakening how the old Democratic party of 2012 no longer exists. In its place is a party of angry people, with anger awards going to women, African-Americans and Hispanics.

While polling indicates Biden would beat President Trump in 2020, let’s remember the pushback from the other Democratic candidates has just begun. When the attacks come into full force, as they surely will, it will be like nothing Biden has ever experienced. Plus, there’s the fundraising question: did Biden postpone his campaign announcement beyond March 31 so he wouldn’t have to report a poor first-quarter fundraising effort?

Although the public myth about Biden is focused on his Scranton, Pennsylvania roots, he moved to Delaware at about age 10. He attended a Catholic high school near Wilmington, received his undergraduate degree at the University of Delaware, and obtained a law degree from Syracuse University. He briefly worked for a Delaware law firm, entering politics in 1969, winning a seat on the New Castle County Council. In 1972 he ran and won his seat in the U.S. Senate, and was continuously re-elected for 36 years.

However, only a few weeks after his 1972 win, his wife and daughter were killed in a car crash. Naturally, public sympathy for the newly-elected Senator was enormous. For his surviving children, Biden made a point of coming home to Delaware every night. Thus, he was bucking the status quo of the time by not having a D.C. residence. He also was physically present in neighborhoods; a major factor in a small state.

Although he remarried five years later, Biden had stored up a huge amount of goodwill among the voters, making him invincible at the ballot box.

It also meant that he never had to hustle for campaign money or votes.

Things changed a bit in 2008 when Barack Obama tapped Biden for the vice presidential line on the ballot. Biden had to travel (his handlers took care of the arrangements), give speeches, work crowds at events, etc.

For a man who had been in the Senate for over 30 years, however, the expectations bar was low. All Biden had to do was stand at his mark, read his speech with gusto, and not flub his lines.

Fundraising? People wrote checks in 2008 and 2012 because of Barack Obama, not Joe Biden.

Fast forward to the 2018 midterms. Biden established a PAC supposedly to help Democratic candidates. According to Federal Election Commission data, he raised a paltry $2.6 million, of which only about $610,000 went to candidates, while ‘operating expenses’ cost $1.8 million.

It seems Biden doesn’t understand the competitive nature of fundraising.

By withholding money from candidates and splurging on his slick ‘it’s all about me’ website, Biden lost a critical early chance to garner support from people such as Stacey Adams, who lost in last year’s race for the Georgia governorship. Now you know why she said ‘no thanks’ to the idea of an early selection by Biden to the vice presidential slot.

Plus, the $2.6 million raised by the former VP looks shabby when compared to former Congressman Robert F. (‘Beto’) O’Rourke’s performance. Last month, O’Rourke raised over $6 million within 24 hours of his campaign kickoff.

Perhaps Biden assumed he would have access to Obama’s donor list. Apparently, that’s not happening. Donors are keeping their powder (and checkbooks) dry as they wait for the candidate field to shrink. This is rational: why spread precious campaign funds to the no-hopers?

Let’s recap.

For the first time ever, Joe Biden is learning just how nasty Democrat politics can be. His behavioral tics, such as giving shoulder rubs to random women, aren’t funny anymore. As a senator, Delawareans would give him a pass (based on his deep goodwill resources), saying: ‘That’s Joe being Joe.” But those days are over. A new, puritanical-left ethos is in the air and the Biden Apology Tour (currently underway) may not be enough to wipe away Biden’s Senate and VP history.

Biden’s also learning how fundraising has become a competitive sport. When a former House member (O’Rouke) can hustle mega-millions in a few hours, it looks bad for Biden. When political newcomer and entrepreneur Andrew Yang (born during Biden’s first term in the Senate) can boast over 87,000 discrete donors — it demonstrates the power of modern fundraising. Does Biden comprehend this, or is he locked into the old big-donor/bundler model?

The former vice president clearly is Rip Van Biden — a man who was asleep while a tectonic shift in the left’s political landscape occurred.

Joanne Butler was an international trade specialist at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and at the Foreign Agricultural Service at USDA in the George H.W. Bush administration. In the George W. Bush administration, she was a senior adviser and speechwriter at the Department of Labor.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.