Joe Biden Victory and John McCain’s Values

Donald Trump’s playbook, which is tough, merciless, divisive, and straight to the personal target, is a playbook rejected by the a maverick, John McCain in 2008. Several times on the campaign stage, participants took the stage and interacted directly with McCain, to get affirmation for questions or statements about Obama who was rumored to be born in Arabia, not worthy of being president, not native American, pro-terrorist, etc., but John McCain openly refused and corrected it. “Senator Obama is a decent person and a person you don’t have to be scared of as president of the United States,” said the Maverick.

McCain, who was still moving in the spirit of the 1970s where there were many bipartisan actions between the two parties, stood up for Obama, in his campaign which was actually against Obama at that time. It is understandable that John McCain entered the political arena at a time when the terms “liberal republican” or “conservative democrat” became commonplace in American politics, resulting in a fair amount of bipartisan actions between the two parties.

But the maverick, when he entered the presidential election arena in 2008, failed to understand that there had been a significant wave of change within his own party, even though he had always opposed the main figures of the Republican Party. To the extent that the term RINO appeared, which was pinned to him, Republican In Name Only, because he was still tied to the political atmosphere of the 1970s which led him to often conflict with the established politicians of his own Party.

In fact, this wave of change is not only occuring within the Republican party, but almost occurring in most of America’s politics and policy direction. The change in perspective from the Cold War era to the Nine Eleven era has made the divisive character of the grassroots Republican Party strengthened significantly, and tends to direct America’s foreign policy away from the cold war spirit.

As a result, most analysts agree that John McCain’s rejection of this new way of playing was one of the reasons for the decline in Republican internal support for presidential candidate John McCain in 2008, in addition to the large waves of Obamaism that were coming at that time. And in fact Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska, who was elected by McCain not from the establishment Republican party, received a brighter spotlight, because she represented a new political character that was growing within the party, namely a very right-wing character.

Evidently in the 2011s, when Donald Trump officially stated that he wanted to run for president, Trump took the playbook that was rejected by John McCain as a weapon to increase his popularity within the Republican Party. Trump raised the Birthter issue to the surface, questioned Obama’s American status, questioned Obama’s eligibility to become an American president, and asked Obama to show Birth Certificates to the American public.

But Obama on the final night of April ahead of early May 2011, through a striking speech at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, managed to end Trump’s hopes of advancing in the 2012 match, finally paving the way for Mitt Romney to move forward. Despite failing to progress in 2012, Trump has determined that the playbook is one of the best political styles he has often played in later times.

In 2015 and 2016, Trump attacked all the established politicians in Washington, with the popular term of “drain the swamp.” Trump attacked the nominees who competed in the Republican Party Convention very hard and personally, from Marco Rubio to Jebb Bush. Trump attacked the policies of “engagement” with China that American established politicians and diplomats maintain so far. Even Trump attacked the media deliberately, after Megyn Kelly, the famous presenter of Fox News, threw questions that cornered him about his unethical attitudes towards women.

Then, after the case of the leaking of the transcript of Donald Trump’s conversation with Access Hollywood broke out, at which time his reputation began to fall apart by several words that had spread widely in the American public space, “grab them by the pussy“, Trump raised the case of sexual harassment of Bill Clinton to surface. Trump invited Paula Jones and others to directly hold a joint press conference regarding the sexual crimes committed by Bill Clinton. Initiated by Steve Bannon, the maneuver was fired at Bill Clinton, but was quite successful in hurting Hillary Clinton’s political performance.

The personal attack is an important chapter in Donald Trump’s playbook, from the moment he first appeared on the American political arena, to this day. The strategy applies to anyone who tries to fight back and corner him, including to Senator John McCain who gave the “thumbs down” on the repeal of Obamacare vote in 2017, rendering Donald Trump’s first strategic move a complete failure. Trump took an all-out attack on McCain in every opportunity he had. Trump called the maverick not a “hero” in the Vietnam war, because McCain was caught. Trump did not mention McCain by name in a speech in John McCain’s constituency.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden, who is close friends with the late Maverick, a democrat who love John McCain with the popular saying in America, “I am democrat and I love Jhon McCain“, seemed to be taking steps similar to those of McCain. Biden is partnering with a female vice presidential candidate, who is somewhat more leftist than him, like Sarah Palin who was` far more right than McCain. Biden prefers inclusive words, rather than having to widen divisions among American voters. Biden refuses to support Antifa openly, and refuses to support protest movements accompanied by violence, plunder, armed resistance, and is not very vocal in voicing the issue of “defund the police”, as was Kamala Haris.

Of course, from a practical political perspective, Biden must ask whether these steps are the  steps that a democratic voter base would like, or rather resemble the steps John McCain took in 2008, and failed. The situation is not the same, today Donald Trump cannot be equated with Obama, who was indeed the rising star in the 2008 election. But the level of political division at the grassroots still seems to continue to pressure Biden to tilt to the left, as a reaction considered commensurate with against Donald Trump who is inclined and comfortable playing the right card.

In response to this, Biden took careful steps. He understands how the left wave in the Democratic Party is no less big than the right wave in the Republican Party. Merely choosing Kamala as a representative seems not enough, but to go straight to the left, Biden does not seem brave, just like John McCain who refused to affirm a personal attack on Obama. As a result, Biden chooses an intermediate position, bringing Bernie Sander, also Elizabet Warren,  into the transition team for the Democratic Party. However, Sander and his supporters on the left appear reluctant to take extreme win-win steps, taking Joe Biden’s “centerist” interests for granted, saying that they must first push Joe Biden to be elected president, then after that they will push Biden left. And Biden, like it or not, must not budge with this statement, considering that some of Bernie Sander’s supporters were part of the voters who did not vote for Hillary in the 2016 election.

But in the end, the Biden’s John McCain Ways paid off.  Biden not only won the battle in the constituency of the late John McCain, but won the states that Donald Trump won in 2016. He become The President elect who win the most votes nationally in American history. And during the campaign, Biden’s moderate political position is proven quite resilient to the accusations of “radical left socialist” that Donald Trump has raised all the time. Then it’s also worth noting that Biden’s statement wanting to invite the Republican faction into his cabinet clarifies his moderate that will pave the way for bipartisan policies in the future. Biden’s victory shows openly that John McCain’s political values ​​are values ​​that should be upheld by political elites in America, not values ​​that divide and screw up the American society

About the Author
An International Political Economy and Strategic Analyst, A Senior Fellow for Indonesia Strategic and Economic Action Institution
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