WASHINGTON -- It is increasingly difficult to be a Democratic presidential candidate.
There are some 20 candidates who are running for the presidency today. Tomorrow there could be 30. A week from now the number could be up to 50, possibly 100. If they allow convicted felons to run for president in the Democratic primaries, the number could multiply fast. After all, there are a lot of felons who are Democrats, and they do not have a lot to do. Some are confined to small places. Whatever the case, all the Democrats in the primary today pretty much agree on everything. Already it has been remarked upon in the news.
Oh, there will be some disagreement. In fashioning his green dream, Beto O'Rourke is willing to spend only $1.5 trillion in federal funds to repristinate the environment. On the other hand, the governor of Washington (whose name I have forgotten) has put the price of his green dream at $3 trillion. But all the candidates are in agreement that America is going green in 2020, and the environmental package that Congressgirl Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez envisages has set the parameters for them all. The thought that America does not possess a feasible solution for eliminating its "carbon footprint" has yet to cross any of these goose-stepping candidates' minds.
What makes the situation so difficult is that not one of them dares to disagree with the others. It is going to be a pretty boring campaign, and we are all going to get tired of hearing about Donald Trump, who has actually accomplished something. Their refusal to disagree became apparent by the weekend when good old Joe Biden on Thursday night caved in on his refusal to oppose the Hyde Amendment. Theretofore, he stood with the majority of Americans who do not believe an opponent of abortion should see taxpayers' money go to fund an action that they deem immoral, to wit, abortion.
Joe is a Roman Catholic, and he opposes abortion on religious grounds. He believes abortion might be OK for nonbelievers, but not for him or for other people of faith. When tapes of him expressing his views on abortion back in 2012 were broadcast last week, I sympathized with him. Good old Joe. He will not buckle for political gain. He is a man of faith.
Moreover, he is making the right political move, I thought. Let the mob of candidates all oppose the Hyde Amendment that became the law of the land 43 years ago. He is the only one! Joe is sticking by his opposition to abortion -- opposition for him, not coercion of those who favor abortion. They can have their abortion. Taxpayers do not have to pay for it. Joe is a true liberal, and by staying with the Hyde Amendment, he is giving what is perhaps a majority in his party reason to vote for him and against the mob. Some 40 percent of his party opposes breaking with the Hyde Amendment. Staying with the Hyde Amendment and with the majority of Americans is right for Joe and good politics.
Well, of course, I was wrong. Joe folded, and after only a few weeks in the race. Now he, too, is part of the mob. Possibly one of the felons will take up the cause of the Hyde Amendment.
Leadership does not mean following the crowd. Sometimes it means leading. It means doing the bold thing despite the mob. For a while it looked like Joe was going to do the bold thing. Why all the Democratic candidates are rushing to the left I cannot say, and I have seen no one undertake an analysis of the matter. I will only say that had Joe stuck to his guns, I estimate he would have had a solid 40 percent of rank-and-file Democrats with him. That would be enough to win the nomination. His place as the leading Democrat in the race for the nomination is now slipping away.
Back in 1992, Bill Clinton's campaign was encountering dangerous headwinds. That is when he boldly repudiated Sister Souljah, a racist who talked of killing white people. His repudiation won him a place in campaigning history. It has been recorded for the ages as Bill's Sister Souljah Moment. He went on to win the nomination and the race for the White House. I thought until last Thursday Biden would turn questions about the Hyde Amendment into repeated Sister Souljah Moments for him and distinguish himself from the mob. Joe, you flubbed it. Now the felons have their opening.
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author most recently of "The Death of Liberalism," published by Thomas Nelson, Inc.