Biden Should Go to Kenosha

George Packer, writing for The Atlantic:

Nothing will harm a campaign like the wishful thinking, fearful hesitation, or sheer complacency that fails to address what voters can plainly see. Kenosha gives Biden a chance to help himself and the country. Ordinarily it’s the incumbent president’s job to show up at the scene of a national tragedy and give a unifying speech. But Trump is temperamentally incapable of doing so and, in fact, has a political interest in America’s open wounds and burning cities.

Biden, then, should go immediately to Wisconsin, the crucial state that Hillary Clinton infamously ignored. He should meet the Blake family and give them his support and comfort. He should also meet Kenoshans like the small-business owners quoted in the Times piece, who doubt that Democrats care about the wreckage of their dreams. Then, on the burned-out streets, without a script, from the heart, Biden should speak to the city and the country. He should speak for justice and for safety, for reform and against riots, for the crying need to bring the country together. If he says these things half as well as Julia Jackson did, we might not have to live with four more years of Trump.

Packer’s column is good, but his headline — “This Is How Biden Loses” — is fatalistic. Biden should go to Kenosha, and further escalate his shadow pre-presidency. Fill the moral and emotional void left by Trump’s failures. The political jujitsu is obvious: hammer home the point that we are in Trump’s America now. He’s been president four years. Stand before the burned buildings and say this isn’t what it will be like under a Biden presidency, this is what it is like, right here in front of us today, under Trump’s. “This violence is tearing our businesses, our homes, and our hearts apart, and it must stop. Trump is the president, and he obviously can’t stop it. I will. We didn’t have violence in our streets under President Obama and we won’t under President Biden.” The speech writes itself.

Friday, 28 August 2020