What a rollout it was going to be. Joe Biden would stand next to former Representative Gabby Giffords at a big rally in Miami the Monday before the Florida primary. They’d rail against gun violence, criticize Bernie Sanders, and get a head start on taking it to Donald Trump in November. It was just what the gun-control movement needed: a big splashy event that would be all over local, state, and national news.
The rally, originally scheduled for March 16, never happened.
Instead, Giffords endorsed Biden in a video on Twitter. The thousands of retweets were nice. But they weren’t what the gun-control movement had been hoping for. Did you know the endorsement happened? If you did, did you care?
Guns. Climate change. Immigration reform. Financial reform. Education reform. Criminal-justice reform. Spending proposals. Tax proposals. The Democratic presidential race was the thickest any race had ever been on policy. Every candidate had an advisory team; every advisory team had white papers and bullet points and ideas of what could, theoretically, happen once its candidate was in the White House and Congress was ready to play along.
Thanks to the coronavirus, that’s all gone. Aside from health-care reform, the pandemic has almost completely overtaken the presidential campaign—and the health-care arguments are mired in the same dug-in pleas for and against Medicare for All that they were over the past year. The coronavirus crisis has rewritten the rules about the scope of the bills Congress can pass, sucked up trillions of dollars in government money, driven the economy into a recession and possibly a global depression, and made clear that its aftermath will define the next four years, no matter who wins in November.