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Why Southern Democrats Saved Joe Biden

Why Southern Democrats Saved Joe Biden →

Mara Gay traveled through the South, talking to black Democrats about their support for Joe Biden. She wrote about it in the New York Times.

For those who lived through the trauma of racial terrorism and segregation, or grew up in its long shadow, this history haunts the campaign trail. And Mr. Trump has summoned old ghosts.

“People are prideful of being racist again,” said Bobby Caradine, 47, who is black and has lived in Memphis all his life. “It’s right back out in the open.”

In Tennessee and Alabama, in Arkansas and Oklahoma and Mississippi, Democrats, black and white, told me they were united by a single, urgent goal: defeating Mr. Trump this November, with any candidate, and at any cost.

“There’s three things I want to happen,” Angela Watson, a 60-year-old black Democrat from Oklahoma City, told me at a campaign event there this week. “One, beat Trump. Two, beat Trump. And three, beat Trump.”

They were deeply skeptical that a democratic socialist like Mr. Sanders could unseat Mr. Trump. They liked Ms. Warren, but, burned by Hillary Clinton’s loss, were worried that too many of their fellow Americans wouldn’t vote for a woman.

Joe Biden is no Barack Obama. But he was somebody they knew. “He was with Obama for all those years,” Mr. Caradine said. “People are comfortable with him.” Faced with the prospect of their children losing the basic rights they won over many generations, these voters, as the old Chicago political saw goes, don’t want nobody that nobody sent.

Many Progressives, who long for a Revolution, have been angry about what they see as short-sighted support for a moderate who will ensure that "nothing changes" in the United States. But these black Americans have seen what's happening around them and aren't dreaming about striding forth into a Glorious Future. They're afraid of sliding back into a horrible past—a past that many of them lived through. I'm not going to second-guess their decision.