The story goes that a president named Lincoln was holding a meeting with several congressional types, maybe more than several, who were not happy with the progress of The War. They demanded that one general or another be fired. Mr. Lincoln asked if they had anybody in mind for a replacement.
"Anybody!" somebody shouted from the back.
"Anybody is fine for you to say," Abraham Lincoln answered in his style. "But I have to have somebody."
Flash forward to today. In less than five months, the nation is going to vote again for president, and there isn't a Lincoln in sight. Or even an Eisenhower. The nation knows what it has in the current president, and how. The polls aren't favorable to him just now. They say if Texas is in play, then Donald Trump is in real trouble.
Well, Texas is in play, and so is Arkansas, according to a poll released earlier this month. There seem to be a lot of people who tell pollsters they'd replace Donald Trump. With anybody.
But anybody isn't running. Joe Biden is.
Right now, because of the virus, campaigning is light. Four years ago at this time, the candidates made daily appearances before big rallies. They held town halls. They gave in-studio interviews. For safety reasons, much of that has changed for the year.
But the candidates still campaign. We got a note in the (e)mail from a friend, who directed us to joebiden.com. Just what is it, pray tell, that Joe Biden promises to do if elected?
It turns out that Joe Biden's website is more specific than you might expect. How many times have you pulled up a website for a certain candidate, and there's nothing but the old boilerplate and truisms that nobody could argue against? This candidate likes veterans. That candidate is pro-highways. And the writers use "impact" as a verb.
So credit where due: Joe Biden's team has laid it out there. And the rest of us will have a clear choice come November.
He's for Planned Parenthood. He's against the Hyde Amendment. But voters knew that. Here are some other issues:
• The former vice president supports raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour. If you believe that raising the minimum wage won't raise prices for goods, and maybe even price young people out of the job market in an unstable economy, then you'll note that Joe Biden is actually doubling down on the idea.
• Joe Biden would also support allowing students to attend two years of community college "without debt." Which would be a neat trick. In reality, that debt would go to the taxpayers, because professors at community colleges don't work for nothing, and somebody has to pay the light bill.
• Joe Biden is proud of his record with unions. He devotes an entire section to how he'd strengthen collective bargaining.
Joe Biden, or at least his writers, say employers "steal" about $15 billion a year from workers by paying less than minimum wage when required. Apparently, businesses are also mis-classifying workers and getting around overtime laws.
But even worse, employers dare to want a voice in union campaigns in their companies. Joe Biden would support passing the PRO Act--the Protecting the Right to Organize Act. The Washington Post calls it the "most ambitious attempt to strengthen unions in years." What it would do is not nothing.
According to one report in The Post: "The bill would change who qualifies as an employee vs. an independent contractor, but the change would apply only to workers seeking to organize or join a union. This move in particular could potentially pave the way for gig workers at companies like Lyft, Uber and DoorDash to organize with unions, if they are found to meet the bill's new definition for employees ... .
"The bill would also weaken right-to-work laws passed in predominantly red states. Right now, many employees in right-to-work states don't have to pay union fees to be represented by the union. The bill would change that by allowing unions to force workers at companies that have unions to pay union fees."
• Joe Biden's website says he favors allowing gun manufacturers to be held liable for their products.
• A Joe Biden administration would work to eliminate mandatory minimum prison sentences.
• It would decriminalize marijuana and "automatically expunge all prior cannabis use convictions."
• It would end cash bail. (Because such a system jails "people who are presumed innocent.")
• It would work toward a 100 percent clean energy economy with no net emissions by 2050: "On day one," the website says, "Biden will sign a series of new executive orders with unprecedented reach that go well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform and put us on the right track."
There are other, useful, ideas. Such as making sure that programs meant to bail out small businesses are actually used by small businesses. And making sure that front-line workers and essential workers have PPE. And re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act. And putting money into broadband, rural hospitals and pre-K.
The whole package can be seen at
joebiden.com. We hear so often that Joe Biden is a known and "comfortable" face in national politics, and that might be true. But more information nearly always beats the alternative.
This November, Americans will vote for somebody. We should know the candidates well.