Biden always understood what this election is about

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Joe Biden at the October 15 town hall on ABC. | ABC

Joe Biden, Donald Trump, and Maslow’s hierarchy of political needs.

In his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation,” Abraham Maslow proposed his hierarchy of human needs. At the bottom of the pyramid were the basics: food, water, warmth, rest. As you traveled up the pyramid, the needs got more specific, more abstract: belonging, prestige, self-actualization.

Over the past four years, we’ve slipped far, far down the hierarchy of political needs. The question isn’t whether the president is a policy genius, a generational orator, a historic legislative tactician, or a masterful manager. It’s whether he’s a white supremacist. Whether he’s a conspiracy theorist. Whether he’s a liar. Whether he’s extorting foreign governments to investigate domestic rivals. Whether he is a Covid-19 superspreader.

In 2016, I spent a few weeks reporting on why there was so little enthusiasm for a Joe Biden presidential campaign among then-Obama staffers. Everyone I spoke to liked Biden, usually a lot. They extolled his kindness, his decency, his loyalty. It wasn’t those higher-order questions that worried them. He ran…


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