Joe Biden: my part in his victory

I’ve written before about how I got on Joe Biden’s email list, by signing up ten or more years ago for a personalised Christmas greeting from President Obama. Biden started his campaign a year and a half ago on Saturday, 23 April 2019, and the floodgates opened. By Election Day, Tuesday 3 November 2020, 556 days later, I had received 1641 emails from his people.

Despite the fact that I’ve never donated a single cent to the cause (which as a non-US resident would of course be contrary to election funding rules) the campaign has throughout treated me as though I am a fervent supporter. So I have been told many times how grateful Joe was for me “showing up right now” and “having his back”. Indeed, I was the “true heartbeat” of his campaign, and various writers at various times were “in awe” of me.

However, despite my exalted position, the computer fundraising program found it difficult to place me geographically. I had given my zip code as “00”, and so at first I would get emails saying that I was one of the best supporters in the 00 district. Later this became a generic “your state” so as each fundraising deadline approached I would be told that a certain amount was still needed. This would vary from email to email, which led to some inconsistency. For instance, at 22.58 on 30 October Kamala Harris was looking for $25 to meet the shortfall in my state of $67,391:

Three hours and six minutes later, at 02.04 on 31 October, Joe himself wanted my first donation to raise another $168,478 in my state before the midnight deadline.

Over the months, I’ve got used to unlikely names popping up in my inbox. Here’s one from Carole King:

Yes, the same person who had written Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? – at the age of 18! – wanted me to support Joe. How could I refuse?

It’s been a rollercoaster ride for Joe. In the first few weeks of the primary season, he looked old and tired and was a long way off the pace. He got a boost when a leading black Congressman, Jim Clyburn, supported him in South Carolina, and then somehow he swept most of the states on offer on Super Tuesday on 3 March. As the pandemic took hold everyone else dropped out and, with one bound, Joe was out of the telephone box and into the lead.

A thousand or so emails later, he’s made it. I confess that I spent two or three days madly refreshing the live count pages in both Georgia and Pennsylvania, Whatsapping friends and relations as Biden went into the lead in both states. And I stayed up to watch his declaration speech in Wilmington, which was a lot better than I expected it to be.

At the moment it looks as though Trump is determined to tough out the transition period. But he will have to face reality when the Electoral College makes its declaration, which is scheduled for “the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December”, i.e. 14 December. And the four year nightmare won’t be over until 12 noon on inauguration day, 20 January 2021. When it comes to Donald Trump, I don’t think the world will be singing Carole King’s first ever hit:
What shall I write
What can I say
How can I tell you how much I miss you?

[It Might As Well Rain Until September, 1962]


As a footnote, it’s worth pointing out that in all these thousands of emails the Biden and the wider Democratic campaign generally used language that was at least respectful. (“When they go low, we stay high”, as Michelle Obama is supposed to have said.) This can hardly be said of the opposition.

When Trump himself contracted “the Covid”, the official Democratic campaign announced that they would pause negative ads, at least for the duration. Barack Obama tweeted that he and Michelle Obama extended their best wishes, and were “hopeful that they and others who have been affected by COVID-19 around the country are getting the care that they need, that they are going to be on the path to a speedy recovery.”

At almost the same time, this email was sent to Republican supporters by the Trump/Pence campaign:

Thank God they’re on their way out.


Worst Debate Ever

I sat through the whole of the first Presidential Trump-Biden debate last night wondering why in hell I was doing it. Only the most masochistic political junkie would inflict such a thing on themselves, I concluded.

I think Jonathan Allen of NBC News has nailed the reason why it was so appalling: Trump may be the only person in the USA who is afraid of Democrat Joe Biden. Allen went on:

“Before their debate Tuesday night, he and his allies demanded that Biden submit to a drug test and let officials check the former vice president for an earpiece.
During the action, Trump absurdly accused Biden of wanting to abolish the suburbs, the cops and “the cows;” declined to denounce white supremacists; and insisted that the election is going to be rigged against him.
And after Trump aggressively failed to demonstrate presidential temperament — blustering, bullying and lying his way through the debate — his campaign manager, Bill Stepien, praised him for being in “control of the conversation.”
Trump’s words and actions are those of a candidate who knows he is losing and has no idea how to fix the problem.
The irony is that Biden was deeply vulnerable: after decades of experience at the highest levels, he’s still not a strong debater. He was noticeably apprehensive; he lacked the motivation and speed to brawl on stage; and he still didn’t have good answers for a host of questions about his record and platform.
But Trump couldn’t or wouldn’t stay focused on Biden’s actual positions. Instead, he ran against a dark caricature of the former vice president while the real version was standing right there smiling.”

I was tuned to the BBC coverage. Just after it finished, presenter Mike Embley called up Washington correspondent Katty Kay who, it can only be said, looked almost shell-shocked by what she had witnessed.  Her initial assessment, which I liked so much I paused the feed and went looking for a pen and paper, was: “It sounded you were being yelled at by all the men you’ve ever had an argument with.”

Three old white men shouting at each other. Hardly representative of the American people. It sets the bar very low for when Kamala Harris steps up for the VP debate next week. I’m sure she will nail it.

My best pal Joe and his email campaign

Sometime shortly before Christmas in either 2009 or 2010, I noticed a post on Iain Dale’s blog about a nifty seasonal message on the Obama White House website. If you handed over your name and email address, you then saw a video message with your name apparently being written at the top of a Christmas card. The camera then turned to a smiling President Obama who wished you a happy Christmas.

I must have clicked a box somewhere allowing the White House to send me further emails, and this they did. Not very often, as I recall, but then the pace hotted up in the run up to the 2012 election. As a political nerd I was quite happy to get these communications. Fast forward to the run up to the 2016 election, and my details had obviously been forwarded to the Democrat National Committee because I got a lot of stuff during the campaign, culminating in a heartbreaking message from defeated candidate Hillary Clinton on the morning after the vote.

No such thing as GDPR in the USA of course, so this spring my details were on the move again. They were sent on to Joe Biden’s American Possibilities PAC. How this happened is explained in the following piece from Mediapost.

Whatever his other assets and debits, former Vice President Joe Biden has one clear advantage going into the 2020 Presidential primaries: Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign email list.
That list, which reportedly drove more than $500 million in donations in 2012, is now apparently at Biden’s disposal. He was a member of that ticket, giving him a leg up on other  contenders.
The fact came to light when Biden supporters received an email from Biden’s American Possibilities PAC asking them to sign up for updates.
Some had not registered for PAC emails, but had put their email addresses on the Obama list. A Biden spokesperson confirmed that the PAC has access to the Obama file, according to the Daily Beast.
It is not known how accurate the list is after eight years. Certainly, there has been churn, and some donors may even have gone over to Donald Trump in 2016.
Still, the Beast calls the list “one of the most valuable pieces of infrastructure in all of politics.” It was made available for the use of the Democratic National Committee in 2016, and presumably was updated.

Here is the original piece from the Daily Beast which broke the story.

As those of us of a certain age know, Joe Biden has effectively been running for the Presidency since 1987. It was in that year’s campaign that he channelled the words of Neil Kinnock when making a speech. (‘I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university?… Is it because I’m the first Biden in a thousand generations to get a college and a graduate degree that I was smarter than the rest?’)

You might think that Biden would be happy to have eventually reached the summit of his ambitions with his position on the victorious Obama ticket in 2008. There was a very funny article on Politico about how the Obama-Biden relationship has spawned an unlikely type of fan fiction. See these great covers below:

But, unfortunately, it seems that he still wants to go one step further. In my view, the last thing the Democrats need in order to take on a 73-year-old Republican sociopath is a 76-year-old has-been. Especially a 76-year-old with a son who has dodgy business interests.

In the 180 days since 25 April, I’ve had 321 emails. And the tone gets more and more desperate:

“Charles, I’m coming to you LIVE from outside the debate venue in Westerville, Ohio. I’m so excited to be here with Joe before he takes the stage tonight!
The enthusiasm for Joe here is electric, and I want to give folks on #TeamJoe a chance to get in on the Debate Day excitement with one of my favorite things — a fundraising challenge!”

Really. Much more likely this was written by a junior copywriter back in Doomsville, PA. S/he sounds super excited, but must be wondering whether the campaign will run on through to next spring.

For what it’s worth, my money is on Elizabeth Warren to win the nomination. She is also older than me (!) but I think she has the nous and the ability to get under Trump’s skin. And beat him.

[I know I could press the ‘Unsubscribe’ button at any time, but in a rather exasperated way I quite like getting Joe’s emails. And I’m looking forward to seeing whether my email address makes a further trip after the Democratic convention next year.]