Biden Parrots 'Profoundly Silly' Narrative That Lesson From UK Elections Is Democrats Should Not Go 'So, So Far Left'
Former Vice President Joe Biden Thursday night told a gathering of rich donors that the Labour Party’s crushing defeat in the U.K. general election represents a warning sign that Democrats should not nominate a left-wing candidate in 2020, a narrative progressives immediately condemned as highly misleading and pernicious.
“Suffice it to say that ‘Boris is kind of like Trump and Corbyn is kind of like Sanders so tonight’s results mean that Sanders would be a bad nominee’ is a profoundly silly and unserious take.”
—Angus Johnston, City University of New York
“Look what happens when the Labour Party moves so, so far to the left,” Biden, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, told donors at a fundraiser in San Francisco Thursday. “It comes up with ideas that are not able to be contained within a rational basis quickly.”
“You’re also going to see people saying, ‘My God, [U.K. Prime Minister] Boris Johnson, who is kind of a physical and emotional clone of the president, is able to win,” the former vice president said, according to pool reports.
Biden’s remarks mirrored the immediate post-election reaction of centrist pundits on Twitter late Thursday as exit poll results made clear that Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn, lost decisively.
“Warning from across the pond to Dems flirting with Bernie/Warren,” tweeted National Journal politics editor Josh Kraushaar, referring to leading 2020 Democratic presidential contenders Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Kraushaar’s argument, echoed by many on social media, was soon expressed in Friday morning news headlines and television programs.
“Bernie consistently polls better than Trump, is extremely popular, and there’s no analogous issue to Brexit.”
—Christo Aivalis, historian
“Corbyn’s U.K. defeat was bad news for Sanders, Warren, and America’s left,” blared NBC News‘s “First Read” headline on the U.K. election results.
“Last night’s election showed the limits of campaigning and winning on ideology,” wrote NBC‘s Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Carrie Dann. “A socialist or very left-leaning message—inspired to turn out young voters and unite the working class—simply didn’t work.”
In his “Reality Check” segment Friday morning, CNN‘s John Avlon stated, as if it were a political truism, that “right-wing populism beats left-wing populism.”
“Democrats should be paying close attetion to the Labour Party’s brutal beating in the U.K. elections last night because it’s a cautionary tale as they prepare for the 2020 primaries,” said Avlon. “Polls shows that Labour should have been poised to take back 10 Downing Street. But they decided to stick with an unreconstructed socialist, Jeremy Corbyn.”
Progressives and other critics were quick to push back against efforts to use Corbyn’s loss as a cudgel against Sanders and Warren, noting that unique political dynamics in the U.K.—particularly polarization over Brexit and Corbyn’s deep unpopularity—make such comparisons absurd and dishonest.
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