In one of the biggest turnarounds in the US primaries, former vice-president Joe Biden went from one of the Democratic Party’s weakest presidential candidates to its strongest, sweeping Super Tuesday in at least ten of the 14 states where voters went to the polls.
After several weeks of campaigning with seemingly no clear sense of purpose, Biden made an amazing comeback, reminiscent of Bill Clinton in 1992. He now looks like the stronger candidate and hopes to be President Donald Trump’s opponent in the November election.
Biden’s momentum is largely due to the withdrawal of former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, both moderates who have now thrown their support behind him, contributing to Tuesday’s big wins. It is equally certain that both are already among the candidates for a post in a Biden administration.
Shortly after most of Tuesday’s results came in, former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg also stepped down, a development that will further boost Biden as they were drawing votes from the same pool of moderates.
The decision of all three former candidates to end their campaigns is evidence of the difficulties they faced in convincing the electorate and pressure from top party officials to rally around the former vice-president, an experienced centrist politician who resonates both with the African-American community and the business elite – a mix Democrats hope can win them the November election.
Former President Barack Obama, popular among Democratic voters, who has remained neutral until now, is expected to assist Biden, if not directly definitely indirectly. After all, an increasing number of ads by the former vice president will feature the work of the Obama-Biden administration from the 2008-2016 period.
The 2016 dilemma is back for the Democrats. Only now, Biden has taken the place of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. On the one hand, they have the socialist Bernie Sanders and the left-wing alternative, which for many people threatens to alienate centrist voters and ultimately lead to Trump’s re-election. On the other, there is the more mainstream nomination of a moderate former vice-president who may succeed in attracting centrists but will not excite the left or the youth.
Going beyond the internal issues facing the Democrats, the revival of Biden’s candidacy is important for Greece and Cyprus. Biden is one of the few prominent American politicians who has dealt with Greek issues, both in the Senate for 36 years and as vice-president for eight. The communication channels with the Greek-American community are important and can prove effective.
In this decisive phase, where everything still hangs in the balance and each candidate counts on his friends and supporters – for funding and votes – it is time for the Greek diaspora to mobilize and to ensure that Biden’s candidacy does well. Hellenism, both Greek and Cypriot, has every reason to want Biden to succeed. No one will solve our problems, no one will fight our wars, but no one can question the importance of having as leader of the most powerful country a politician who has been sensitive to Greek concerns for almost half a century.
As president, Biden will not fully identify with Greece’s positions. But he will be able to see the difference - and act accordingly- between America’s sincere democratic partners and allies and authoritarian leaders with whom he may have to cooperate, but will certainly not treat them with awe or as close personal friends.