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OpinionColumnistsWilliam F. B. O'Reilly

Is Joe Biden the conservative in the race?

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Amtrak's Pittsburgh Train Station on Wednesday in Pittsburgh. Credit: AP/Andrew Harnik

Boring sounds good right about now.

Russia steppe in August boring.

One thirsts dryness, if that’s at all possible.

Tuesday’s presidential debate was anything but; drinking muck from a firehose was more like it for viewers.

I wish I had turned in early.

Confucianists are said to have bequeathed us a curse: "May you live in interesting times." Historians push back: "Better to be a dog in times of tranquility than a human in times of chaos" is more likely what the ancients warned.

For the first time in my life, I understand both adages. I know I’m not alone.

It became clear on Tuesday, if it wasn’t already, that a sitting U.S. president is purposely sowing electoral chaos in an effort to retain power. That such a thing could happen in the United States of America was once unimaginable. Now, it’s unmistakable. This amid a pandemic.

What will happen in a month’s time is anybody’s guess, but it’s unlikely to be pretty. When a commander in chief calls on the Proud Boys to "stand by" anything could happen.

For conservatives this is especially disconcerting — actual conservatives that is. We cling to order and normalcy; we know what can occur when long-standing conventions are cast aside. It’s why we push back against progressives and utopian ideas.

The political left in America is frightfully ascendant with socialistic proposals that will drive millions of voters into Donald Trump’s arms. But when I looked at that stage Tuesday night, I couldn’t help asking whether former Vice President Joe Biden is the more conservative candidate this time — the candidate less likely to spark a civil war.

Stability is a precious thing — it’s everything, really — and we’ve never had it under this presidency. We’ve lived under his twittering thumbs for four long years and it’s shaken the country to its core. Many of us Republicans agree with 90 percent of the Trump agenda, but without stability, we can never support him. It’s too dangerous. The question that has kept us from throwing our lot in with Joe Biden is strength: Does he have enough of it to govern as a semi-centrist leading a party that is decidedly not?

Biden’s words and demeanor in the debate were reassuring, as was the fact that Democratic primary voters chose a middle-of-the-road war horse to be their standard bearer instead of a firebrand like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. But if Democrats take the Senate and dump the filibuster, will Biden have the fortitude to push back against the Sanders agenda? Probably not. He ducked the filibuster question on Tuesday, not a great sign.

But isn’t chaos even scarier? George Santayana called it "any order that produces confusion in our minds," which is clearly what the president has been up to in attacking the election process. One must ask oneself, is there anything more destabilizing — is there anything less conservative — than a president implanting confusion in the minds and souls of Americans at this exact moment in our history?

These are our options a month out from Election Day. These are the interesting times in which we live.

We may never be bored again.

William F.B. O'Reilly is a consultant to Republicans.

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