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Editorial

What Can the Case of Michael Dukakis Teach Biden?

As the Republican National Convention begins, commentators see similarities between the 1988 election and today.

It was a historic confrontation for us Greeks, as the Democratic candidate for the presidency was Michael Dukakis (then governor of Massachusetts), the first Greek who managed to reach just a breath away from the presidency.

At that time, the election of Dukakis – as to some extent the election of Biden now – seemed almost certain, since he preceded the then-Vice President George H.W. Bush by about 20 points. Today, Biden leads by about 10%. A smaller, but not negligible, difference.

And yet, Dukakis lost in the end with a difference of 53-46. Bush won 40 states.

That electoral contest is an example to study how quickly and by what methods a seemingly certain electoral victory can be overturned.

Bush – who became a good president but lost his re-election bid to Bill Clinton – was able to convince voters that Dukakis, with the strange name, was a far-left Massachusetts elite who had no connection to the ordinary citizen. He was also able to arouse the racist feelings of many with the case of Willie Horton. In particular, Bush used slogans that systematically help Republicans win elections, fears of rising taxes and crime. Something similar to what Trump is doing today.

Bush then accused Dukakis of being the moral perpetrator of the rape and murder of a white woman by African-American prisoner Horton, to whom prison authorities allowed a weekend furlough.

Dukakis could not believe that such an attack would resonate with the voters and so he did not listen to his advisers who urged him to respond.

Afterwards, Dukakis has repeatedly admitted that he made a "stupid" mistake by not responding to the attack directly.

Biden is certainly much better known than Dukakis was then and is considered more of a centrist than him.

He has also shown that when he has to respond to political attacks he has no problem doing so.

The Republican National Convention, which begins today and is said to have the general theme "Honoring the Great American Story," and in which Trump will speak every night – his wife and four of his children will also speak – is an opportunity to present an agenda for the government for the next 4 years, in the event Trump wins.

The general, inaccurate attacks – "his lies,” as his sister herself said in a recorded conversation with her niece which was revealed the day before yesterday – are no longer enough.

As President, he will be called upon to support his achievements and explain his mistakes, including on the issue of the coronavirus.

In this respect, the Democrats must wait, like the rest of us, to see how the GOP Convention plays out.

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