A Referendum on One Man

“We are in the battle for the soul of this nation.”

That’s how former Vice President Joe Biden characterized the stakes in the campaign he just joined. Biden distinguished himself from the Democratic field by explicitly confronting the man he hopes to face. He did this with the very first words he spoke: “Charlottesville, Virginia.”

And he went after the President by name, saying that if Donald Trump spends eight years in the White House, he will “fundamentally alter the character of this nation.” Joe Biden cast this election as a referendum on Donald Trump.

He’s right.

That’s something about which Republicans and Democrats - and the President - will agree.

This election has already been branded like a building with his name on it.

  •  Unemployment

  • GDP

  • Immigration

  • Mueller

  • Russia

  • China

  • North Korea

  • The Supreme Court

They aren’t issues with differing views so much as a source of dialogue - from the very foundation to the roof - about the influence of one person: Donald Trump.

Other Democrats have spoken of their credentials and vision for the future.

It’s fanciful to suggest that because voters don’t bring up Trump on the campaign trail, it’s sufficient for candidates to speak of their vision for America.

Yes, Democratic candidates need to have a compelling vision for America. But to win, they must also win the tug of war with the President for the swing voters and to motivate others who don’t vote to get off the sidelines.

Races with incumbents are always a referendum in the incumbent. And each Democratic candidate must initially convince the Democratic primary electorate why they’re best suited to beat the President.

Joe Biden was right to frame the election as a binary choice - for or against one man - Donald Trump.