Immersive Wolf of Wall Street actors get personal alarm buttons

Theatre company reacts to sexual assaults at previous events like The Great Gatsby

The company behind The Wolf of Wall Street, the latest production to tap into the trend for immersive theatre, has introduced safeguarding measures to protect actors and participants following a series of incidents at previous high-profile shows.

The adaptation of the debauched memoir of former stockbroker and convicted fraudster Jordan Belfort opens in London this week. But the huge success of the immersive format, buoyed by its embrace of escapism and risk, has sparked concerns over how much actors are exposed to dangerous interactions with audience members.

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SOPA Images via Getty Images Proposals in eight states would ban puberty blockers and hormones for trans minors. Greyson was already menstruating when he started taking puberty blockers at age 12, so when he stopped getting his period because of the drug, he was “over-the-moon-happy.” His mother, Lauren Rodriguez, worried about the risks she read about online, specifically bone-loss density. However, after further reading, she learned that the side effect pops up only after long-term use, or about seven to 10 years — and most trans kids take blockers for just a year or two. In the year and a half Greyson was on them, the most difficult side effect he faced was hot flashes. Before his transition, Greyson was on anti-depressants just to deal with his dysphoria, Rodriguez said. “If I had known what was making my ‘daughter’ at the time so unhappy, I would have done it at 3, which is just a social transition,” she said, referring to respecting transgender kids’ chosen names, pronouns, and style of dress, without any medical interventions before puberty. Deciding whether to allow a trans adolescent to go on puberty blockers is a decision most parents don’t take lightly. They often talk to doctors and psychologists, and the general guidelines of most major American medical associations recommend affirming a child’s gender exploration in order to improve their mental health. Transitioning is a slow, deliberative process for minors, and only adolescents who are insistent, persistent, and consistent in their gender identity over long periods of time are recommended for medical intervention. However, some conservative politicians want to take that decision out of the hands of doctors and parents who know these teens best — and put it in the hands of the state. In fact, in Greyson’s home state of Texas, lawmakers have promised to introduce legislation that would essentially ban, midway, his medical transitioning once their next legislative session begins in 2021. Meanwhile, eight statelegislatures — including Missouri, Florida, Illinois, Oklahoma, Colorado, South Carolina, Kentucky, and South Dakota— have already introduced bills this yearthat would criminally punish doctors who follow best practices for treating adolescents with gender dysphoria. In South Dakota, for example, doctors who prescribe puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones could face a $2,000 fine and a year in prison under the proposed law. South Dakota’s version of the bill was even prioritized and became the very first bill of the decade to pass out of committee. A full floor vote on the bill is scheduled for Wednesday. Lawmakers in Texas, Utah, and Georgia have promised to introduce similar bills once their legislative sessions begin. And while a New Hampshire bill wouldn’t criminalize doctors, it would classify gender-affirming care for minors as child abuse. In other words, should any of the bills become law, they would effectively cut off many adolescents from medically necessary and, often, life-saving treatment for gender dysphoria. There are approximately 150,000 transgender youth between the ages of 13 and 17 in the United States, according to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, and studies show that kids in Gen Z identify as more queer and trans than previous generations. A 2018 study found that the risk of developing a mental health condition was three to 13 times higher for transgender and gender-diverse youth than for their cisgender peers. “The crisis that trans youth are facing right now is not a hypothetical,” said Gillian Branstetter, a spokesperson for the National Women’s Law Center. “It is real and it is well-documented and it is extremely severe. Efforts to limit the very solutions to that crisis are ignorant in the extreme and are a dangerous manifestation of rank partisanship and political opportunism.” Bills banning trans care for kids are the new bathroom bills, part of conservatives’ larger culture war against trans people. Conservative media and politicians have been fanning the flames for this fight for years in hopes of rallying the base over a non-existent threat — a threat that only puts trans lives, like Greyson’s, in danger. What spurred the latest trend in anti-trans laws The recentconservative push for an outright ban on transition care for minors grew directly from the social media disinformation campaign surrounding Luna Younger, a 7-year-old trans girl from Dallas caught in the middle of a bitter custody battle between parents who disagree over her gender identity. A Texas judge overruled a jury decision to award full custodianship of Luna to her mother, Anne Georgulas, in late September. That means Luna’s father, Jeffrey Younger, who insists on dressing his child as a boy and forced her to cut her hair, has an equal say in future medical decisions for Luna. Driving the conversation about the case were primarily conservative media outlets. In the week following the initial jury decision, 23 conservative news sites published 55 stories about Younger, and all opposed the child’s transition. According to data from Media Matters, those 55 stories earned 3.5 million Facebook interactions. People were so riled up online that some sent threats to Georgulas; she was “viciously attacked and threatened by complete strangers,” her attorneys told the Daily Caller. Several prominent Texas officials even added to the fray: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott promised to order the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate Georgulas. State Rep. Steve Toth said he would propose legislation to “add ‘transitioning of a minor’ as child abuse.” A version of the bill is expected on the Texas docket when the legislature reconvenes next year. It didn’t take but a few months for this groundswell of conservative opposition to spur the introduction of legislation seeking to ban the medical transitioning of minors altogether. While South Dakota’s bill would threaten doctors with prison time, states like Missouri are taking a different tack. That state’s bill would automatically report any parent who affirms their child’s trans identity with medical care to Child Protective Services for child abuse, and any doctors found to be dispensing blockers or hormones to minors would have their medical licenses revoked. Kentucky’s bill, which was introduced on Tuesday, goes well beyond those of Missouri and South Dakota: It would allow either parent to override consent for transition care, a right which the state cannot overrule; it would require all government agents to disclose to parents whether a child expresses gender dysphoria or gender-variant behavior; and it would protect the right of any government employee, including teachers, to express their views on gender identity, including misgendering or harassing transgender students. Additionally, any adult (or minor with parent or guardian permission) who had previously been given transition care would be allowed to sue doctors for damages for the next 20 years. Because the bills aren’t stopping at banning puberty blockers, a second South Dakota bill introduced Tuesday would require any teacher, school psychologist, or social worker to out any students they suspect may be suffering from gender dysphoria to the student’s parents. And let’s not forget the bills targeting trans school sports participation. The anti-trans fight has moved from bathroom access to legislating over children’s bodies. With so many bills in process, LGBTQ advocates worry that passage of one could trigger passage of the rest, casting the progress of trans children back at least half a century. There is an abundance of misinformation on how trans children are medically treated in adolescence Confusion and misinformation are rampant in the debate over treating transgender adolescents. While many conservatives falsely claim that doctors are performing genital surgeries on children, a more nuanced conversation is actually taking place between young teens, doctors, and parents. “Children often have a clear sense of their gender identity as young as three or four years old. However, no medical intervention occurs for younger children, and the best practice is to provide psychological and social affirmation until very early puberty,” Dr. Alex Keuroghlian, director of the National LGBT Health Education Center at the Fenway Institute and director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Gender Identity Program, told Vox. “Once a child reaches the cusp of puberty, whether they desire and access pubertal suppression or not, psychosocial gender affirmation by family and peers through adolescence and adulthood remains critical for good mental health outcomes.” Once adolescents reach ages 9 to 14, puberty blockers can be a tool to prevent permanent changes from natal puberty from taking place so that can become more mentally mature before deciding the course of their permanent treatment. “Blockers put puberty on hold so that adolescents have more time to decide what to do next. Without them, the adolescent will have physical changes that are difficult if not impossible to reverse. Often, it requires surgery to undo these changes down the line,” Dr. Jack Turban, resident physician in psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital, where he researches the mental health of transgender youth, told Vox. However, ultra-conservatives and trans-exclusionary radical feminists, along with some extreme sexologists, have other ideas for those children’s futures, lobbying to ban puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for all minors. While the proposed bills are new, the ideology behind them is old. Bill proponents appeal to the fallacy that natal puberty is natural and therefore necessary for all kids. But this approach would force trans girls into male puberty and trans boys into female puberty without their consent, and brings along its own permanent changes, which could partially be reversed only with painful and expensive medical treatments in adulthood. Trans women forced through male puberty would have to undergo electrolysis to remove facial hair and may be left with a body frame (shoulder and hip width) that would be unchangeable surgically. Trans men would have to have surgery to remove their breasts and, like trans women, be forced to live in an unwanted body frame for their entire lives. Those permanent changes were discussed between Rodriguez, her son, and her son’s doctor before he started testosterone, the hormone taken by transmasculine people as part of their medical transition. “If we start this, the changes are permanent,” Rodriguez recalled the doctor saying. “Once you have a beard, you have a beard. Once you have a mustache, mustache. Once your voice drops, your voice drops. There’s no going back to it. And everything he said, Grey was like, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’” So many conservative arguments against trans rights deploy the specter of “big, scary” trans women’s bodies in female spaces — which was the crux of the bathroom bills and the latest push against trans athletes. Trans girls who receive early support through puberty blockers and eventual cross-sex hormones end up with normal female body and bone development, making their bodies much less easily marked for social exclusion and poking a hole in conservative scaremongering against trans rights. What conservative lawmakers are doing with their legislation is removing parents’ and kids’ choices altogether, forcing their own political ideology on the medical choices of private citizens. The South Dakota bill has even received out-of-state help. It’s being pushed by a small coalition of conservative special-interest groups, with activists and doctors from as far away as Seattle and California testifying mostly via video. The bill’s original sponsor, Rep. Fred Deutsch, also attended an anti-trans conference hosted by the conservative Heritage Foundation titled “Summit on Protecting Children from Sexualization” in October, according to the Washington Post. (When Vox reached out for comment about their involvement in the legislation, the Heritage Foundation sent a link to an article co-written by a Heritage research fellow in defense of prohibiting the “physical interventions on the bodies of children to ‘affirm’ their ‘gender identity.’” Deutsch has not returned Vox’s request for comment.) Meanwhile, local South Dakotadoctors and medical experts have been testifying against the bill. Public health researcher Michaela Seiber pointed out that much of the research presented by Deutsch actually supports affirming care for gender-diverse youth. “I was curious about what studies he was actually using to support all of this stuff, but when I started diving into them, they were actually from publications that I think he should have realized were very anti what he’s trying to promote,” Seiber told Vox. According to Seiber, Deutsch cherry-picked rare potential side effects of puberty blockers from safety studies and presented them as if every youth who goes on blockers will experience them. “He made mistakes that undergrads might not even do anymore, just picking out little pieces out of context and using as his support.” These laws could mean a matter of life or death for trans kids The political fight has worried young trans people across the country who depend on their medication to keep their gender dysphoria at bay. According to data from the Trevor Project, 76 percent of LGBTQ youth felt that the recent political climate impacted their mental health or sense of self. Over the last year, the Trevor Project has supported over 150 LGBTQ youth in crisis in South Dakota. “They’re using transgender youth as political pawns to advance a particular agenda,” said Alexis Chavez, medical director at the Trevor Project, referring toconservative politicians. “They’re advancing it under the guise that they’re doing what’s best for the youth, but they’re not basing it on any evidence. They’re not basing it on clinical best practices. They’re not using providers who are working day to day with these youth to make these laws. It’s really unfortunate because they’re targeting some of the most vulnerable population.” Study after study have shown that affirming trans and gender-diverse kids in their self-exploration improves mental health and lowers suicide risk. The affirming model, which allows children to explore their own gender identities at their own pace and can include puberty blockers, has been recommended by nearly every major American medical association, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the Endocrine Society, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and many others. “What is most important is for a parent to listen, respect, and support their child’s self-expressed identity. This encourages open conversations that may be difficult but [are] key to the child’s mental health and the family’s resilience and well-being,” wrote Jason Rafferty, a pediatrician and child psychiatrist at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, and a professor at Brown University, in a key American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement in 2018. The effects of supporting a trans child can also be lifesaving. Late last week, new analysis from a group of researchers who specialize in studying trans youth found that access to puberty blockers significantly lowers lifetime suicidality in trans people. That’s the biggest concern for mothers like Rodriguez. “He’d kill himself,” she replied when asked how her son would react if the state took his hormones away. “He’s already flat-out said that.” Conservatives in Texas have prioritized anti-trans legislation in each of the last three sessions, including trying and failing to pass a statewide bathroom bill in 2018. Should the legislature enact a ban on hormone blockers and other medical treatment for gender dysphoria, Rodriguez says she’d have no choice but to pick up and move out of state. “I will have to sell my house, I will have to quit the job at the nonprofit that I love,” she said. “But we’re going to have to go to a more affirming state. I can’t expect my child to thrive and continue to live if [they] pass this.” While some families with trans kids may be able to afford to pick up and leave the state, others may be forced to find medical solutions across state lines, and still others will have no choice but to abruptly stop their medical transitions entirely. According to Branstetter, conservatives pushing these bans need to be prepared for the worst possible outcome. “Is Rep. Deutsch ready to host in his office the first family that is forced to bury their 12-year-old because he wanted to be a hero in right-wing media?” The state now threatens to insert itself into the most basic decisions of body and identity, all to drive a handful of votes from the conservative base to win in an election year. Lost in the conservative rush to tamp down the trans-rights movement are the very real lives of trans kids who simply want to transition and move on to adulthood.
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His campaign made time for only one national surrogate: Biden. “He reminds me of my son Beau,” Biden said at a rally at theCarpenter’s Training Center in Collier, Pennsylvania, a week before the March 2018 election, referring to his son who died of brain cancer in 2015. Biden’s endorsement was not the only reason for Lamb’s victory, but the campaign did think the visit from the former vice president offered Lamb a chance to build credibility with union workers. Lamb is now endorsing Biden to be the Democratic nominee, and he’s in good company. Biden has far more endorsements from elected officials than any other candidate. The FiveThirtyEight endorsement tracker, which keeps track of high-profile endorsements and weights them by influence, has Biden scoring 237 points — nearly triple the second-place candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who scores an 81. Sen. Bernie Sanders trails Warren at 55. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is next with 50. Other candidates have picked up pockets of support in important states — in Michigan, five state lawmakers are backing Warren and the Young Democrats have come out for Sanders. But Biden has way outpaced his competitors in numbers, and he’s earned endorsements from Democrats who’ve won tough races in places that will be tough again in 2020. In Pennsylvania, four sitting Democratic members of Congress have come out for Biden. In Arizona, where Democrats have a slim chance of picking up a Republican-held Senate seat, Biden has been endorsed by former Gov. Janet Napolitano (a rare Democrat to have won statewide in recent history). Sen. Doug Jones — the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in Alabama in decades — has endorsed him, too. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a rally in support of Democratic congressional candidate Conor Lamb in Pittsburgh on March 6, 2018. Jones, up for reelection in 2020, won a special election in 2017 against a man accused of sexually assaulting two teenagers and other predatory behavior. Even so, the campaign knew it would be a feat for a Democrat to win in Alabama. They only wanted surrogates with cross-party appeal, like former NBA star Charles Barkley — and Biden. “We were not anxious to bring in a lot of national partisan officeholders,” said Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, who worked on the Jones campaign. “Biden’s never had the persona of a hard-charging partisan. He was somebody we wanted to campaign. He is among the least polarizing figures in the party.” The Democrats in swing states who have endorsed Biden did so, of course, because they support his policy positions. But in a year when Democrats are laser-focused on beating Trump, their endorsements also represent a vote of confidence in Biden’s ability to win in their states and to help down-ballot Democrats win, too. Biden seems to have an edge in battleground states, but the top Democratic candidates all tend to outperform Trump in head-to-head polling. The case for Biden is about his potential to do one more thing: take back the Republican-controlled Senate. “How the hell are any of them going to get anything through Congress with Mitch McConnell sitting in the Senate?” Trippi said. Biden’s coalition offers the Democrats their best shot at winning up and down the ballot. He’s led the pack nationally among Democrats, including core base voters like African Americans. He’s consistently polled further ahead of Trump in key Midwestern states, despite relentless attacks from Trump. And the Democrats who know what it takes to defeat Republicans in hostile territory want him to take on not just Trump but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, too. How Democrats won in 2018 Two important storylines about the Democratic Party emerged from the 2018 election. The first is the rise of the far left, best symbolized by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset victory against longtime Democrat Joe Crowley in New York. Ocasio-Cortez instantly became a leading voice in the new progressive wing of the party. The second storyline to emerge has gotten far less attention but explains how Democrats actually won. While Ocasio-Cortez represents an important new force in the party, her win over a fellow Democrat didn’t change the party makeup of the House. That bragging right goes to a crop of moderate Democrats who ran careful, pragmatic campaigns. They won on tangible policy ideas, like preserving the Affordable Care Act’s provision on preexisting conditions. They weren’t calling for a revolution, so much as a return to stability. An analysis by Alan I. Abramowitz at the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia found that candidates in the 2018 midterms who supported Medicare-for-all performed worse than those who did not. Al Drago/Getty Images Biden speaking at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa, on January 21, 2020. It’s true that the progressive left helped inspire enthusiasm, including a surge of new voters and young voters. Latinx voters made up a larger vote share in 2018 than in previous elections. But as Yair Ghitza of the Democratic data firm Catalist estimates, about 89 percent of the party’s improved vote margin is attributable to swing voting —not higher turnout by committed Democrats. “A big piece of Democratic victory was due to 2016 Trump voters turning around and voting for Democrats in 2018.” Ghitza also found that even though many of the Democratic wins were in suburban districts, “rural areas largely moved in a Democratic direction, often by even larger margins than the suburbs.” To carry these districts and win the Electoral College, the Democratic nominee must appeal to a broad swath of voters — including Trump voters. Biden stumped in these districts in 2018 and candidates welcomed his help, a sign that he’s the strongest choice to do it in 2020. Biden has the best shot at carrying the Senate Any Democrat who could beat Trump would only have a shot at a transformative presidency if he or she also took the Senate. Right now, it looks bleak for Democrats. McConnell controls the Senate by three votes (plus the vice president’s tie-breaker). And in 2020, there is no Republican running in a state that Clinton carried by 5 points or more. So while Democrats defend seats in 12 states where they’re up for reelection, a few of them tough races, they’ll also have to flip seats in at least three competitive races to take back control of Congress. Most Democrats believe their best bets for flips are in Colorado, Arizona, Georgia, and Maine. Biden has earned about a dozen endorsements across these states, including from Napolitano, the only Democrat to be elected governor in the state since 1982. Vulnerable Democrats defending seats include Sen. Gary Peters in Michigan, a state where Biden has consistently polled above Trump by a higher margin than any other candidate. He’s earned some half a dozen endorsements from sitting lawmakers there, too. Similarly, he’s picked up strong support in Alabama. “Even if you look at an example like the state of Alabama where there’s a clear dichotomy between urban-exurban and rural, he’s uniquely positioned not to move just urban voters,” said Democratic Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, who has endorsed Biden. “When you think about all parts of the state, he’s actually able to excite and motivate those same Alabamians who may be white or rural.” Hanging on to the House is not a given, either. Democrats surged in 2018, delivering a wave election even bigger than the Tea Party’s in 2010. But this time around, Trump will be back at the top of the ticket and could make it harder for Democrats who won on his turf. Biden’s campaign is headquartered in Pennsylvania, a state that Barack Obama won in 2008 and 2012 but Clinton lost in 2016 and that Democrats will need to win back in 2020 to realistically defeat Trump. He’s racked up endorsements from six sitting and former Pennsylvania lawmakers. “I think some in the media and the sort of commentary around this race have been a little bit focused on the size and novelty of policy proposals,” Lamb said in a recent interview before heading to Iowa to stump for Biden. “I think Joe Biden is advancing ideas that can actually be passed into law and actually help the lives of people who I care about.” Liberals shouldn’t be so worried about Biden A fear among liberal skeptics of Biden is that his pragmatism represents a retreat from the party’s leftward momentum. That’s true in one sense. He doesn’t pass progressive purity tests on issues like Medicare-for-all. On paper, his plans are less ambitious. But he’d still be the most progressive Democratic nominee in history if he won. His plans line up closer with the center of gravity in the party, but in recent years the center has moved much further left than even during the Barack Obama years. For example, Biden isn’t willing to replace the Affordable Care Act with a new, single-payer system like Warren or Sanders’s Medicare-for-all. But he does want to improve on it with a major new addition, an expansive public option. He’d also cap premiums at 8.5 percent of a patient’s income. These might seem small relative to the scope of Medicare-for-all, but Medicare-for-all has pretty much no chance of becoming law, and it’s likely to spark a damaging intraparty fight among congressional Democrats that harms the chances of passing any health care bill. Lamb pointed out that there probably aren’t enough votes in the Democratic-controlled House to pass it, never mind a Republican-controlled Senate (or even a narrowly Democratic-controlled Senate post-2020). And the key Senate Democrats who will drive health care policy if Democrats retake the gavel have already said Medicare-for-all is a nonstarter. Ultimately, the question of which health care policy passes Congress comes down to how many votes Democrats have in Congress. If Biden is best for down-ballot Democrats, as many Democrats who’ve won in those states believe, then he’s likelier to get health care reform passed than his competitors with more ambitious plans, but narrower political appeal. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images National Nurses United union members protest during a rally in front of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America in Washington on April 29, 2019. “It takes a lot of integrity not to necessarily back the flashiest thing in the moment but the thing that I can actually do for you and your life,” Lamb said. Woodfin agreed, echoing Lamb’s point that most Americans don’t favor Medicare-for-all; even among Democrats, the enthusiasm has declined. “At a certain point, being a leader, wanting to be a leader — the president, the leader of the free world— pragmatism is required,” Woodfin said. “It’s not just this whole world of what I want to do. “As it relates to his policies, they are pragmatic. They are workable.” Biden has also outlined a suite of policies that, taken on their own terms, would be the most ambitious governing agenda of any modern Democrat: On climate change, Biden’s plan is similar to those of the other leading contenders. He’s also been fighting climate change well before the rest of his party. He introduced the first climate bill ever in the Senate in 1986. On criminal justice reform, he’s put forth a sweeping proposal, which my colleague German Lopez, often critical of Biden’s policies, describes as “one of the most comprehensive among the presidential campaigns, taking on various parts of the criminal justice system at once.” On gun control, he’s one of just a handful of original candidates to get into his plans in detail. On paying for college, Biden was an early supporter of the idea of free college, though he speaks about it less now. He did, however, unveil a well-received plan to make community college free. (He also put forward a comprehensive plan for primary education, which includes boosting spending in poorer districts and raising teacher pay.) Still, there is one significant policy criticism that Biden can’t overcome easily: his stance on the Iraq War. He voted in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to support the intervention. He’s recently portrayed the vote as a decision he quickly regretted. But as Alex Ward and Tara Golshan reported for Vox, the story of Biden and Iraq is long, complicated, and arguably checkered. During a recent debate, Biden reiterated that he regrets the vote and that he has proven he’s trustworthy on the issue. “It was a mistake and I acknowledged that, but the man who argued against the war, Barack Obama, picked me to be vice president.” While liberals recall how the Iraq War shaped the 2008 primary and general election, a deadly folly that loomed in voters’ minds, polling amid Trump’s Iran confrontation showed 32 percent of potential Democratic primary voters trusted Biden most on foreign policy. Sanders came in second, trailing him by 12 points. Matters of war and foreign policy are certainly big enough questions for any individual voter to consider in deciding whom to pick for president. For Biden, he’s overwhelmingly the favorite among Democrats on these matters. There are some obvious problems with Biden In an ideal world, the Democrats would likely want a nominee younger than Biden, who is 77. It’s also true that for a party coming off the historic election of the first African American president and that came within a razor’s edge of electing the first female president, there’s something symbolically disappointing about retreating to another white man. Sean Rayford/Getty Images Joe Biden arrives at Zion Baptist Church before the King Day at the Dome march and rally in Columbia, South Carolina, on January 20, 2020. This is made worse by the fact that when he was pressed to address his problematic personal treatment of women near the launch of his campaign, Biden was perfunctory and dismissive. Representation matters, and with Biden we’re not getting a real advance. But we don’t live in an ideal world, and there isn’t a younger and slightly more self-reflective version of Biden out there for Democrats to vote for. There’s way too much that’s both tangibly and symbolically at stake with Trump’s presence in the White House for Democrats to ignore the overwhelming evidence that the politicians with something on the line in tough races think Biden is the best chance to beat him. Trump has been running — and losing — against Biden for months Ultimately, the 2020 primary issue Democrats care about most is who can stand up to Trump and beat him. Biden is in a unique position. He’s faced almost a year of attacks by Trump — and it hasn’t hurt him. In the fall, the American public learned that Trump had enlisted his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to gin up dirt on Biden’s son Hunter Biden by leaning on the government of Ukraine. While these revelations ultimately ended in the president’s impeachment, they also led to months and months of Trump attacking Joe Biden. In October, Trump really lit into him with personal insults (he “was only a good vice president because he understood how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass”). Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump and his former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders went on to make fun of Biden’s slight stutter. Amid all this, Biden’s fundraising skyrocketed, and he paid no penalty in the polls. Biden remains up over Trump in head-to-head polling in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. (As noted earlier, most Democratic candidates beat Trump in head-to-head polling, but Biden consistently holds the highest margin in swing states.) Why are you so obsessed with me, Mr. President?— Joe Biden (Text Join to 30330) (@JoeBiden) January 14, 2020 Biden’s campaign made an ad about Trump’s attacks, which Biden tweeted with a joke, “Why are you so obsessed with me?” Sometimes a joke is funny because it gets at the truth. Biden isn’t the flashiest candidate or the most ambitious in his proposals. But he’s the candidate who is in the best position to beat Trump and take back the Senate. He’s stayed strong in the polls nationally and up against Trump in key states, despite months of attacks. He’s got strong support from different types of Democrats. And most of all, the Democrats who know what it takes to win in Trump country believe he’s the best candidate for the job.
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