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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Elliot Benjamin is a philosopher, mathematician, musician, counselor, writer, with Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and the author of over 230 published articles in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality & the awareness of cult dangers, art & mental disturbance, and progressive politics. He has also written a number of self-published books, such as: The Creative Artist, Mental Disturbance, and Mental Health. See also: www.benjamin-philosopher.com.
An “Integrative” Democratic Candidate is Needed to Beat Trump
The other day I received an e-mail from Frank Visser inviting me to convey my thoughts about impeachment on Integral World. I had been reluctant to do so as I had the feeling that Integral World readers may be tired of my continuous Integral World articles about the dangers of Trump. However, Frank has spurred me on to say what I think, so here goes.
Trump knows very well that Biden would be a severe challenge for him, and this is why I believe he has done all in his power to get rid of Biden.
I am glad that the Democrats in the U.S. House are now in the process of undertaking impeachment proceedings, but I am also concerned about the possible consequences. A number of Republicans, spearheaded by attorney general William Barr, are doing all in their power to try to invalidate the whole impeachment process and take the rhetorical emphasis away from impeachment and move it toward criminally investigating the “origins of the Mueller report” . Millions of dollars are being poured into marketing to reinforce the Republican obstruction of the impeachment process, and I think there is virtually no chance that Trump will be removed from office in the Senate .
But what concerns me the most is related to the realities of the United States electoral college, which boils down to the disturbing scenario that to win the 2020 presidential election it is necessary to reach enough voters in a handful of battleground states . The strong pro-Trump supporter base is not going to change their adoration of Trump no matter what violations Trump has committed , but I think there are a number of voters in these battleground states who perhaps are “mild” Trump supporters or bona fide middle-of-the-roaders, and it is these people that I think the Democrats absolutely need to persuade to vote Democratic in 2020, or at least stay home and not vote for Trump (cf. ). And this brings me very pragmatically to look closely at the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.
I have watched all the Democratic presidential debates thus far, and in regard to my own progressive political views I certainly relate to the progressive candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. However, I must also say that I think either of these candidates will alienate the above voters in the battleground states that are desperately needed to beat Trump. I see the picture even more bleak if we have a gay Democratic candidate, as Pete Buttigieg is currently on a surge , and I certainly don't think that billionaire centrist Democratic candidate Mike Bloomberg is going to reach these voters . I also like Kamala Harris* , but even if somehow she were to find a way of getting her presidential momentum going again, I am afraid that I don't see these voters going for a minority woman candidate. The reality as I see it is that unfortunately these voters need a “safe white male candidate” if there is any hope of wooing them away from the “cult of Trumpism” (cf. ).
And as I conveyed in an earlier Integral World essay , this leads me once again to promote Joe Biden as the best (and perhaps only) possibility to get rid of Trump, and consequently to avoid the imminent destruction of our planet that I am afraid may very well happen if Trump is elected for four more years. In my previous writings I have talked about why I see the dangers of four more years of Trump being so terrifying, ranging from the destruction of the environment to nuclear war, via the heart-breaking inhumane treatment of immigrants, and I won't repeat myself here . My focus in this essay is my pitch for “progressives for Biden.” Yes Biden gets mixed up and gets himself into trouble by too frequently saying things unintentionally that are disturbing to large segments of the voting population . but I don't think that Biden lacks the mental faculties to be an effective president of the United States, and I think that through his “integrative” potential  he has the ability to end the nightmare that we have been living under Trump for almost three years, and will continue to live under for at least another year.
Once again, this is not about who I personally like. There are certainly things that I find disappointing in Biden, not the least of which is his support of Israel in regard to the issues of the mistreatment of Palestinians . But my priority is to beat Trump in 2020, and I believe that if the candidate is not Biden then Trump will be able to effectively keep enough of his base and middle-of-the-roaders in the battleground states to pull off another four years. For it would be “crazy Bernie” the communist and “Pocahontas” (Trump's condescending nickname for Elizabeth Warren) taking away your health care insurance choices, destroying the American dream of success, letting immigrants come into the country to take your jobs and kill your children, etc. Trump knows very well that Biden would be a severe challenge for him, and this is why I believe he has done all in his power to get rid of Biden, which is how impeachment has finally come out of the woodwork.
But there are severe challenges for Biden to become the Democratic candidate. As much as I highly value and respect virtually all that the Indivisible organization stands for (cf. ], the communications that I receive from the Indivisible organization make it clear that the writing is on the wall for Indivisible to endorse a Democratic candidate, and I believe they are only holding off because they are undecided between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, with lately Pete Buttigieg getting into the running as well (cf. ). Indivisible founders Leah Greenberg and Ezra Levin have made it very clear that they don't believe in voting for “the lesser of two evils” in the primaries, but rather to “vote your heart” in the primaries and then “vote your head” in the election (cf. ). But the problem as I see it is that if we “vote our heart” in the primaries then voting our heads in the election will not be sufficient to beat Trump. Elizabeth Warren is now close enough to Biden in the polls, followed right behind by Bernie Sanders, that all it would take for Warren to be the candidate is for Warren and Sanders to make a strategic decision for the one with the smaller poll ratings to drop out of the race, giving their support to the other, which I believe would end up being Elizabeth Warren.
And the situation is now even more precarious for Biden with the entrance of billionaire former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg into the race. Bloomberg is described as a “centrist,” but it is questionable how much he is even a “Democrat,” based upon his previous financing of Republican candidates (cf. ). I don't think there is any realistic chance that Bloomberg could get the nomination, and if miraculously he did so then I would do whatever I could to support him beating Trump. But I think that Bloomberg could take enough votes away from Biden to push Elizabeth Warren into the finish line, whether or not Bernie Sanders eventually drops out of the race. And then we are back to the scenario that I very much want to not happen and which Trump very much does want to happen, which is a progressive Democratic candidate running against Trump.
I believe that if the candidate is not Biden then Trump will be able to effectively keep enough of his base and middle-of-the-roaders in the battleground states to pull off another four years.
I certainly hope that Biden finds a way to not get “mixed up” in the forthcoming debates, that Bernie Sanders stays in the race, and that Mike Bloomberg does not become popular enough to do excessive damage to Biden. And if the candidate ends up being Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, I very much hope that I am wrong and that the middle-of-the-roaders in the battleground states somehow see the light and that we still beat Trump. But these are my thoughts at this time, and to justify the title of this essay let me emphasize that I see Biden as an “integrative” candidate (cf. ) in the sense that he is somewhat left of center, and I think has the potential to integrate diverse political perspectives, ranging from my own progressive perspective to a Democratic centrist perspective to a middle-of-the-roader perspective to hopefully even a mild Trump supporter perspective.
And thus my Thanksgiving 2019 wish, as today is actually Thanksgiving in the United States [Nov. 28th], is that Joe Biden becomes the Democratic candidate to go up against Trump in 2020, and beats him.
Notes and References
* Harris ended her campaign on Dec. 3rd, see: Dan Merica and Kate Sullivan, "Kamala Harris ends 2020 presidential campaign", www.cnn.com, December 4, 2019 (FV).
1) See Dartagan (2019), "'The awful truth about impeachment': Susan Glasser for the New Yorker", www.dailykos.com, Nov. 25, 2019.
Susan Glasser (2019), "The awful truth about impeachment. Facts be damned is Trump's approach, and it's working" , www.newyorker.com, Nov. 22, 2019.
Mark Sumner (2019). "William Barr is racing to deliver a report that blows up the impeachment inquiry–and everything else", www.dailykos.com, November 6, 2019.
2) See Elizabeth Drew (2019), "Will Trump be removed from office?", www.project-syndicate.org, Nov. 2019.
Dartagnan (2019), "After Trump is acquitted it will be necessary to impeach him again. . . and again", www.dailykos.com, Nov. 23, 2019.
Jake Sherman & Anna Palmer (2019). "POLITICO Playbook: House GOP group spending millions to beat up Democrats on impeachment", www.politico.com, Nov. 18, 2019.
3) See the 2019 book We are Indivisible: A blueprint for democracy after Trump (New York: Atria) by Indivisible founders Leah Greenberg and Ezra Levin for a stimulating and enlightening portrayal of the enormous challenges for Democrats to win elections based upon the electoral college, gerrymandering, and voter suppression, with a host of creative, fascinating, idealistic proposed solutions, inclusive of ending the filibuster and working toward proportional representation in the House and Senate. Also see Greg Sargent's 2018 book An uncivil war: Taking back our democracy in an age of Trumpian disinformation and thunderdome politics (New York: HarperCollins) for a particularly incisive (and alarming) analysis of how Republicans have managed to undermine the United States democracy through their practices of gerrymandering and voter suppression.
4) See Elliot Benjamin (2018), "The cult of Trumpism", www.integralworld.net, Dec. 2018.
5) See Ella Niolsen (2019), "The Pete Buttigieg surge, explained", www.vox.com, Nov. 21, 2019.
6) For a disturbing description of Bloomberg's financing of Republican candidates see Joan McCarter, (2019). “Democratic” candidate Mike Bloomberg has spent millions keeping the Senate in Republican control, www.dailykos.com, Nov. 26, 2019.
7) See Elliot Benjamin (2019), "Defeating Trump in 2020: An integrative perspective", www.integralworld.net, April 2019.
8) See all of my Integral World essays on Trump starting in May, 2016 at www.integralworld.net, and see the references in these articles for various of my other articles on Trump.
9) A classic example of Biden's getting “mixed up” occurred in the November 2019 Democratic debate when he referred to his support from the “only” African American senator, while Kamala Harris, a “second” African American senator, was standing right on the debate stage with him.
10) In a number of my previous Integral World essays (see www.integralworld.net) I have described my “Integrative” perspective, which includes “diverse contrary views for the purpose of finding common ground on one particular issue.”
11) See Toi Staff (2019), "Biden: “Outrageous” to leverage aid to Israel against settlers expansion", www.timesofisrael.com, Nov. 1, 2019.