Joe Biden
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Calling themselves “The Steady State,” more than 80 former national security officials have signed a letter endorsing Joe Biden for president. There are some familiar names on the list, like former Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Rand Beers and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, but you probably have never heard of most of the signatories. They have held important positions like Assistant Secretary of State, chief of staff at FEMA, Director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the Department of Energy, Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and senior director of the White House Situation Room. The list includes more than a dozen formerly covert intelligence officers and ambassadors to countries like Yemen, Qatar, and Pakistan.

With a few exceptions, these folks have never been openly partisan before, and most of them have served under both Democratic and Republican presidents. They’ve gone public with their support for Biden because they feel that President Trump “has created an existential danger to the United States.”

We write to endorse Vice President Joe Biden for President of the United States.

Our nation’s foreign affairs are in disarray; our alliances frayed, and our national prestige declining. Our approach to both friends and enemies abroad has been chaotic and unprincipled. Our credibility as a nation has been lessened. And, perhaps most importantly, our place in the world as a source of moral leadership has nearly been lost. As a country, we are increasingly less secure and less safe.

To be clear, those of us signing this letter do not agree on everything, or even most things, concerning foreign policy, defense or homeland security. Our policy views cover most of the spectrum, and many of us have often been in opposition, sometimes bitterly, with each other. But we have always been bound by profound patriotism, and a deep belief in our American democracy. 

But the course of events since the 2016 Presidential election has been deeply troubling. It is not just policy differences. President Trump, and his approach to leadership at home and abroad, has created an existential danger to the United States, its place in the world, and the values we share. His reelection would continue this downward spiral, and will likely have catastrophic results. Democracy itself is at stake.

They obviously call themselves “The Steady State” as a rebuttal to the term “Deep State.” They recognize that they will be dismissed by those who feel that there has been a conspiracy within the top echelons of the national security apparatus to undermine President Trump, but they’re speaking to the folks who are open-minded.

It’s true that this is technically an endorsement of Biden over Sanders, but it has more significance for the general election. It shows one part of what will be a broader trend. Biden will win endorsements not just from our intelligence and diplomatic corps, but from almost every newspaper editorial board in the country. He’ll be vouched for by countless former Republicans, including many well-known operatives and media personalities. There will be a host of traditionally Republican or independent business leaders who back Biden over Trump. Some very well known former generals and senior officers in the military will break their lifelong neutrality to weigh in on Biden’s behalf.

The Establishment won’t speak with one voice, but they’ll speak overwhelmingly for one side, and often for the first time.

People can view this as a negative if they’re so inclined. Some will figure that if Biden is acceptable to these people, there must be something wrong with him. Maybe he isn’t offering enough change.

But it will be helpful to the effort to beat Trump. It will be truly beneficial to Biden if he actually wins the election and needs support for putting this country back on its feet.

It’s also going to further isolate the modern Republican Party. They’ll have less legitimacy in Washington D.C. than any major political party has ever suffered.

If Biden becomes the next president in 2021, he’ll be inheriting a bigger mess than Obama faced in 2009, but he’ll also have one of the biggest honeymoons we’ve ever seen. If he loses, Trump will try to govern a city and a bureaucracy that views him with nothing but horror.

Which do you think has more potential for success?

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at