Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's great political strength is his studied affability.
He comes off like an elderly uncle on a TV sitcom -- all white teeth and soft sweaters -- genially rising out of his leather recliner to put an end to all this malarkey once and for all.
And President Donald Trump? He's the loudmouthed barbarian who was elected to kick the Washington political establishment in the private parts, hard. And he'll keep tweeting his crazy, often insensitive, and incendiary tweets and kicking until his foot falls off. And the establishment is kicking him back, harder.
"When people show you who they are, believe them the first time," said Maya Angelou.
Biden wants to show us that he is Captain Nice, the anti-Trump, the old guy who loves ice cream, and tells his stories about his lifeguard heroics and those hairy legs of his that turn blond in the sun. He doesn't appear threatening when reaching out to those all-important suburban women voters, with their hate-has-no-home-here signs that they hope will ward off the cancel culture when it comes for their husbands and children.
Biden offers them peace, even as he bobs to the hard left like a cork adrift upon the sea of (Alexandria Ocasio) Cortez. Yet this is his campaign's implicit promise to America:
Just elect Biden president and allow Democrats to control the House and rule the Senate, and we'll all go back to normal, whatever that was, to pre-Trump time. The deal is that if Biden is elected, perhaps the mindless mobs will relent and won't tear down American history, defacing Lincoln, toppling Jefferson, Grant and abolitionists. To be clear, I do not support Confederate statues in places or honor. They belong in museums. But canceling George Washington?
The Biden promise is that if elected, the hysterical screaming over the past three years will end. The cancel culture won't come for your kids or for you. The vandalizing of churches will stop. America will make friends with China again. The violence in our cities will subside. They might even not blow up Mount Rushmore, if we're nice.
And no matter how you plan on voting, ask yourself a fair question: If elected president, will Biden be able to hold off his allies of the hard left as they seek more power?
He can't. Even if he were so inclined, which he's not, the man just isn't strong enough. He's fading quickly. America sees he's thin and getting thinner, which is why his handlers keep him safe in the basement, because Biden is just too little butter spread over too much bread.
But Biden, the Democrats and their media handmaidens don't want to talk about any of this. They want the election to be a referendum on Trump and the coronavirus. And that is smart politics.
Trump has badly mishandled his messaging on the virus, foolishly boasting early on that it would be easily handled. It wasn't. He's seemed lost and angry, paranoid, and finally put on a mask the other day. If a Democrat were president, the Republicans would be hammering this hard, and they know it. The Democrats have the New York Times and the Washington Post. And so, they hammer hard, endlessly.
But that's the framing. That is not the Biden campaign offer to America.
The offer is that if we elect Biden, we won't be exhausted anymore, since exhausting the electorate is what politics has been about these three-plus years. The media and the woke world will stop screaming. We'll attain some kind of normalcy. If Biden is elected, we'll likely see news stories about the coronavirus in a different, positive light, telling us that Joe is trying, Joe is doing what he can, and we must not be selfish and help Joe.
Is the November election about Trump and Biden, or is it something larger now?
Each man is a symptom of larger issues. Trump was elected because the Republican establishment, which pushed endless war and drained the middle class of jobs shipped overseas, collapsed of its own corrupt weight. The Democratic establishment collapsed from pressure from the hard left, and now the left is in charge and offers Joe the passion and energy he lacks.
Biden hopes to ride this to the White House. And the left, using Ocasio-Cortez and her Gang of Four as symbiotes, plan on remaking America in ways that Barack Obama only dreamed of doing.
They've already shown us they want to eradicate capitalism. They showed us they will "reimagine" (i.e. defund) police in the violent cities run by Democratic mayors. Wealthy urban Democratic elites don't have to worry. They'll just hire private security guards, like they hire private teachers in the private schools for their kids.
If Biden is elected, the left will not stop using cancel culture to silence dissent, because it works. Diversity of opinion threatens them. History tells us the left is all about control and the use of government force to compel compliance. Corporate leaders are terrified of being canceled. Universities will continue to cave. The destruction of American history will continue, since to the zealots, the statues are idols, and toppling them is metaphor for reshaping history.
"People will do what they do," shrugged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat, when asked about the mob and the statues.
And Joe Biden will do what he does, and be a figurehead president, with the left calling the shots.
When people show you who they are, believe them.
John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and his Twitter handle is @john_kass.