National Commentary

American Democracy’s Closest Call

My best sources assure me that Trump will be out of the White House by Jan. 20.

South Carolina’s U.S. Rep. James Clyburn is being rightfully credited with turning around the 2020 U.S. presidential election in favor of the man who won it last week, Former Vice President Joe Biden.

After the first Democratic primaries last February in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, Biden was in terrible shape, with Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders in a tight race for the lead among 29 candidates. South Carolina represented the first primary in the south, and perhaps the last best hope for Biden to stay in the race at all.

A sea change occurred in that last week in February when the highly-respected Clyburn threw his support, in his best booming manner, behind Biden. It changed everything. The confusion and chaos that attended the first primaries was suddenly eclipsed by the firm words of the veteran civil rights advocate who came out resolutely for Biden in the days ahead of the February 29 South Carolina primary.

On the strength of the solid African-American vote that carried Biden to victory, the Democrats wisely chose to throw all their support behind Biden from that point on, with Presidential challengers Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, among others, dropping out of the race that weekend to throw their support behind Biden.

On “Super Tuesday” only days later, on March 3, Biden pulled off a sweep, winning 10 of the states with contested primaries that day to four for Sanders, and he and the Democrats never looked back from there.

So, with the epochal win of Biden over Donald Trump last week by a margin that only continues to grow as all the votes are counted, many have suggested that Clyburn get credit where it’s due, and from this perspective of hindsight, yes indeed, he should.

But when asked about this during a late night interview on CNN by show host Don Lemon last weekend, Clyburn had a surprising reply. He said it is not who deserves the credit, but one Mrs. Jones.

Yes, it was Mrs. Jones, Clyburn explained, a regular attending services at his church, in South Carolina, who following the service asked Clyburn who he was supporting in the primary coming up in just a few days.

Biden, Clyburn said without hesitation, “Well then, Mr. Clyburn, you must say so publicly, you must let everyone know about this.”

Upon reflection, the congressman knew Mrs. Jones was right, and made a major announcement prior to the primary that changed the course of history, and has now assured us a solid, moral and courageous man in the White House.

My friend, Gordon Theisz, told me about this Lemon interview with Clyburn on CNN November 7. Watching it brought tears to his eyes, he said.

And well it should have, as these are the kinds of affirmations grounded in the simple but profound morality of average people that drive our nation and its democratic institutions forward. Brava, Mrs. Jones, America and the world owe you a great debt of gratitude!

Truly, as we work our way forward now, it is no exaggeration to say that the United States of America came closer to losing its Constitutional democracy in this era than in any other period of our history. That even includes the Civil War, because never has the threat come from a man situated in the country’s Number One seat of power in the White House itself.

A statement I was compelled to issue following the announcement of Biden’s victory Nov. 7 included the following:

“Behold, President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris of the United States of America! Oh, happy day! As with so many others, I have spent the last more than four years, since Donald Trump won the Repubican nomination for president in the summer of 2016, exerting every ounce of creative, psychic and other forms of energy to the defeat of this foul man. It has drained us and taxed us in many ways in every moment of our lives, waking and otherwise. There is now the upper hand to silence and contain him at last.”

Nicholas Benton may be emailed at nfbenton@fcnp.com.