So what have we here?

m'kay fine
Dina Titus endorsed Joe Biden for president this week. (Nevada current file photos).

An overwhelming majority of Democrats, and a majority of independents, would vote for a potted plant before they’d vote for Donald Trump.

Which brings us to Joe Biden.

Biden was endorsed by Nevada Democratic Rep. Dina Titus Monday.

Maybe Titus, state Sen. Yvanna Cancela, between a quarter and a third of Nevada Democrats surveyed (depending on the poll), and of course Biden himself are right: Joe Biden is Obi Wan. Only he can save us.

Biden is “the right person at the right time,” Titus said during a joint call with Biden and media Monday.

Biden’s relative rightness to be president in what would be the third decade of the 21st century was reflected in the questions asked by the press during the call: a) what’s up with calling marijuana a “gateway drug?” b) how come one of your top Latina outreach advisers quit, complaining that your campaign is too focused on white people? and c) how’s that whole Ukraine thing working out for you?

You might think those issues, and particularly the Latina adviser’s frustrated departure, suggests Biden is not, as Titus put it, “the right person at the right time” for a Democratic electorate in 2020.

Au contraire, your Biden backers would say. Well, maybe not publicly. They wouldn’t want anyone thinking Uncle Joe is a French-speaking elitist like John Kerry. But more importantly, a departing staffer’s complaints about Biden’s campaign being too preoccupied with white people bolsters the central selling point of Biden’s candidacy: Joe Biden doesn’t scare old white men.

Nevada Democrats never talk about the Nevada caucus without stressing the importance of the state’s diversity. Titus did it with media again Monday.

If Nevada Democratic caucus-goers follow the lead of Cancela and Titus (and presumably the Culinary Union and Rep. Steven Horsford and maybe Titus’s close ally Gov. Steve Sisolak, all of whom seem extremely likely suspects to join the Biden bandwagon), will that support be driven by which candidate promises to most effectively address working family incomes, the climate crisis, housing, immigration, health care, justice reform, education, and other urgent Nevada problems and issues?

Or will it be driven by which candidate is most likely to not offend white men in Florida and the upper Midwest?

Biden’s lead in national polls is roughly identical to his lead in Nevada, suggesting there is some truth to what Nevada caucus boosters are always saying: Nevada truly is the one state among those voting early where the electorate reflects the country.

In other words, a lot of Democrats across the country are also gravitating toward a candidate perhaps based not so much on what they want, but on what they think somebody else will accept.

There’s more to it than that, of course. Ending our long national nightmare by ousting Trump will mean fewer children in cages, fewer people thrown off food stamps and other public support, an end to the attack on health care, and the reversal of countless other mean-spirited policies that are harming people in Nevada and everywhere else, too. 

Besides, are you tired? Of Trump and all the accompanying chaos, mayhem, corruption, criminality, incompetence, stupidity, cupidity, ugliness, and disregard for the nation’s interest, including national security as well as that of our allies, so as to satisfy the erratic yet always self-absorbed urges of the venal man-child? Yes, you are tired. Bring on the unobtrusive comfort of a potted plant. Please.

Policy initiatives in a Biden administration remain a bit of an unknown (his campaign has neither a housing nor an immigration plan, for instance). His signature issue, apart from being Joe Biden, is adding a public option to Obamacare, a modest proposal that should have been enacted a decade ago, suggesting a Biden presidency’s proposals will always start small, with no place to go but smaller.

But the madness would end. That’s the argument.

I admit I was wrong (not unprecedented). I thought Biden would have fallen from the top of polls by now. He was falling over the summer, and maybe the fall would have continued if Trump’s Ukraine treachery hadn’t bolstered Biden’s contention that he’s the candidate Trump fears most. Pre-whisteblower, you may remember, Trump and his Republicans were turning their fire at Elizabeth Warren, not Biden. (Now they’re turning their fire at Adam Schiff ha ha).

Biden’s campaign is identifying Nevada’s Feb. 22 caucus as a bulwark. Even if he does poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire, wins in Nevada and South Carolina will propel him to glorious Super Tuesday victories, or so the campaign’s thinking goes. The most tiresome Nevada political hashtag of the last decade might finally at long last come true. Nevada might matter.

But will it be Nevada that matters? Or Nevada’s perception of, and deference to, voters in states that swing harder than Nevada does?

It would seem strange if a substantial portion of Nevada’s diverse Democratic electorate backs a candidate not because the candidate’s vision and policies appeal to them, but because they think the candidate is “safe” enough not to scare a potential swing demographic in Michigan.

Yet that might be where we are.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.