What were you thinking, Jack Nicklaus? The Golden Bear, the popular golfing legend, a long-time do-gooder, endorsed Donald Trump for re-election Thursday, saying the U.S. risked “evolving into a socialist” country under the Democrats.
Remarkably, he applauded what he called Mr. Trump’s respect for “diversity,” saying this President had tried “to help people from all walks of life – equally.”
The Twittersphere went bananas. Triple bogey Jack! Shank, even. In Canada, a country whose moderation is exhibited by its citizenry’s low regard, bordering on disdain, for Republican presidents, he was pilloried. The respect he had gained over the years was gone in a flash.
Mr. Nicklaus, 80, has partnered in some business ventures with Mr. Trump. Pro golfers are from the country club set and, with rare exceptions, swing Republican. But most keep their noses out of politics.
The Golden Bear’s warning about the coming socialist hordes was straight out of Mr. Trump’s campaign playbook. The President is using that scare tactic every day. Given that Mr. Biden has been a moderate, a mushy centrist, a pablum Democrat, for all his 47 years in Washington, it’s a hard sell, such a far-fetched charge.
But while Mr. Biden is no socialist, Mr. Trump and the second-best golfer ever (behind Tiger Woods) are on safe ground in saying the Democrats would move the country leftward in a pronounced way.
The Democrats are sounding positively Canadian these days. More Canadian than American. It’s not because Mr. Biden has undergone any transformation but rather the accruing crises: the raging pandemic, the battered economy, income inequality, racial unrest.
Add to that the influence of the party’s power brokers: “Bolshevik Bernie Sanders,” as Fox’s Sean Hannity calls him, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren and Biden running mate Kamala Harris, whose voting record is decidedly liberal.
Add to that the party’s trajectory in recent years. Barack Obama eye-poppingly said in the spring that the Democrats have never been more ensconced on the left than now. It is necessary, he maintained, because the world has changed so much since 2008 when he became president.
“It is one of the reasons that Joe already has what is the most progressive platform of any major-party nominee in history. Because even before the pandemic turned the world upside down, it was already clear that we needed real structural change.”
Mr. Biden won the Democratic nomination opposing the left-siders but you would never guess that by seeing his platform now.
There’s the pledge to move the country totally off fossil fuels, there’s a public option on health care that everyone could buy into, a multitrillion-dollar coronavirus stimulus plan, a $15 minimum wage, racial-equality proposals to narrow the wealth gap, a Public Health Jobs Corp., universal preschool for three- and four-year-olds, a tax credit of up to $8,000 to help low- and middle-income Americans pay for child care.
There’s two years of free community college, a tripling of spending on low-income schools, a reduction of the Medicare eligibility age to 60, a $640-billion housing plan, tax increases for those earning more than $400,000, a proposal to tax capital gains at the same rate as earned income for those making more than $1-million, a promise to eliminate liability protection for gun manufacturers.
On Tuesday, Mr. Biden travelled to Warm Springs, Ga., where New Deal president Franklin Delano Roosevelt used to convalesce, to deliver a speech on national healing and an economic renaissance.
“I’m kind of in a position that FDR was,” Mr. Biden told The New Yorker magazine. But “If you think about it, what in fact FDR did was not ideological, it was completely practical.”
He’s being careful on the campaign trail not to sound like a Bernie Sanders and, given his history, Republicans are having difficulty pinning the radical charge on him.
Canadians will take to Joe Biden, should he win the election, like they did Barack Obama. Some policy differences, such as the protectionist lean of the Democrats on trade, will cause problems. But temperamentally and philosophically, Mr. Biden is simpatico with the big Canadian middle. He comes across as seasoned and reasoned, as prioritizing pragmatism over ideology.
Mr. Trump, benefiting from news Thursday that the U.S. economy grew in record fashion in the past quarter, is calling the election “a choice between a socialist nightmare and the American dream.” The Democrats would use the federal government, he warns, to supersede individual and state rights. Republicans feel the message could resonate particularly among Latino voters whose home countries have been the victim of leftist rule.
Rich guys like Jack Nicklaus buy into the socialist scare talk. But polling suggests that most Americans don’t. It suggests that given what they’ve been through with the coronavirus plague and another pandemic, the Trump one, they are willing to accept an FDR-styled period of oversized government.
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