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Letter from America: Can Joe Biden save the Democratic Party from defeat?

By Professor Ken Mufuka

I will leave my opinion to the end.

There are two parties in the US, the Republicans and the Democrats, with splinter groups like socialists and libertarians caucusing with either group at any given time. The leader of the party, especially if he becomes US president, can leave his imprimatur on the party.

Ken Mufuka
Ken Mufuka

This is done by appointing the chairperson and the administrators at national level in Washington. People like Bill Clinton, who has served the Democrats since 1970 will therefore know by name all the party apparatchiks.

More, they will also know all the money bags that support the party. Depending on how well their influence has been stamped on the party, they can through manipulating the “machine” as well as the money bags, deny or propel any candidate they wish.

But, that has not always been the case. Many candidates are charismatic enough, and can command their own money bags and can get very far without party support. Such was the case with Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan.

Reagan had a shadowy treasurer from California, who kept U$3 million in his handbag and either bribed his way, paid whatever favors were required, with or without the party machine, which favored Gerald Ford.

In the Democratic Party, these aficionados include 200 Congressmen and other high officials and number 530. Since a candidate must muster 1990 plus one vote to win the election, a well-oiled party machine in favor of former vice-president Joe Biden can do a lot of harm to the people’s choice Senator Bernie Sanders.

Since South Carolina’s people of color make up 55 percent of the Democratic Party, and are amenable to “machine instructions” the support of the highest ranking Congressional operative, party whip, Jim Clyburn, in support of Biden, sealed Sanders’s fate. There are 54 delegates, and Biden carried well over 34.

The other shoe

Not all states are amenable to “machine instructions” but the availability of party resources, precinct chairpersons, sympathetic governors and general knowledge of the lay of the land favors the candidate who has the ear of the party aficionados.

Sanders have another weakness. He is an independent Democratic Socialist and only caucuses with Democrats for convenience. He is therefore regarded as an interloper in that party by the aficionados.

However, Sanders has money. In February alone, U$46 million in willing donor funding came his way. He is therefore not starved of money. More importantly, however, and Hillary Clinton, the party favorite who stole the prize from his four years ago, has testified, Sanders swims among fanatical young Democrats who are ideological and difficult to reason with.

That is an advantage.

Obama was a master manipulator of the media. His secret lay in the fact that he identified young aspiring correspondents (male and female) ensconced in high positions in the media houses. Here is the deal, as Biden says it. He employed their significant others in the State Department and other organs of state.

These organs of state therefore exuded an inspirational air of competency and they could go toe to toe with their former colleagues in the media houses from whence they had been plucked.

Obama was a genius.

The media houses are showing a bias in favor of Joe Biden. Biden seems to be suffering from “something” which causes confusion in his presentation of facts and figures. He said he was imprisoned in South Africa 1976 when he wanted to see Nelson Mandela on Robben Island. He was not because he was in the company of Ambassador Andrew Young. He said 150 million people have suffered from gun violence during our time. He probably meant 150 000.

The press, which is becoming hostile to Sanders, is increasingly showing favoritism towards Biden.

On super Tuesday, 3rd March, 13 states will go to primaries. I have before me a write up by New York Times editorial columnist, David Leonhardt. Leonhardt is building up Biden, suggesting that “all polls” favor Biden’s candidacy, placing him in 1 30 percent favorability vortex.

My opinion

These polls are worse than useless. Because of their in-built bias, 1 000 newspapers prophesied that Donald Trump would lose to Hillary Clinton by one million to a hundred million. Based on these false “polls,” Ms. Hillary booked a boat in New York harbor at a cost of U$6 million.

Biden is a hero in South Carolina and among black voters. He connects very well with the civil rights apparatchiks. But South Carolina is the only state where the black vote predominates in the Democratic Party.

If the machine throws its super delegates in favor of Biden, a repeat of the Hillary fiasco is the likely outcome. Sanders’ fanatics will not support an “imposition.”

In any case, Sanders, at 77 years old, is truly revolutionary. A Democratic Socialist is almost a dirty word here. A sympathizer of Fidel Castro makes it worse. We have the example of Venezuela, once the richest country in Latin America now driven to penury.

But Sanders has charisma, which Biden does not. Sanders will have enough money to run the race. It is Biden who is begging for money even as we speak.

While the black vote is reliable, it constitutes only 12 percent on the national level. Sanders will lose Florida in a national election. Cuban refugees have a residual bad taste of socialism.  It is Sanders who has the fanatics on his side. Biden has the old goofy machine on his side.

If I were to bet, I would err on the side of Sanders. Americans want new things.