Joe Biden is Not the Answer

The 2020 presidential election has heated up, with even more candidates throwing their names in the hat and the first fundraising quarter has come to a close. However, the highest polling candidate has yet to enter the race. Former Vice President, Joe Biden, has held his tongue about his much-anticipated potential presidential run, with many seeing him as the potential “savior” of the Democratic Party.

Along with the benefits that could come with a Biden bid for office, there are just as many reasons for skepticism. His first presidential run came in 1988 and it (as well as subsequent bids) was resoundingly unsuccessful, despite early victories. Additionally, the face of the Democratic Party has changed greatly, leaving Biden and his contemporaries as relics of a bygone era without the policies to keep up. Now, Biden has provided another reason to view his bid with a dubious eye: sexual misconduct allegations.

Via The Cut

Lucy Flores (pictured above with Biden and Eva Longoria), a Nevada Democrat who was contacted by Biden’s office for support in her campaign, candidly opened up about her experiences with the then-Vice President in an article posted to the Cut. “Imagine you’re at work and a male colleague who you have no personal relationship with approaches you from behind, smells your hair and kisses you on the head. Now imagine it’s the CEO of the company.” Flores describes Biden coming up behind her, leaning in to smell her hair and leaving a kiss on her head at a professional event when she had no connection to the Vice President, which left her feeling violated, embarrassed and, most importantly, powerless. “I wasn’t attending the rally as his mentee or even his friend; I was there as the most qualified person for the job.” Flores decided to remain silent on the incident until it became clear that her experience wasn’t an isolated incident, but rather indicative of a larger behavior pattern from Biden.

Via New York Magazine

Scores of videos and pictures surfaced of Joe Biden crossing the lines of propriety with women and girls who were not in a position to refuse him, from the Defence Secretary’s wife and senator’s wives to female constituents. Flores wasn’t the only one who noticed the droves of uncomfortable women left in his wake. His behavior has long been regarded as an “open secret” of the echelons of Washington political life, something to be aware of but not to be commented on in public. This classification even went so far as to be carried to media coverage of the altercations, with Biden not losing his title as “America’s Favorite Uncle.”

Via New York Magazine

When deciding whether to come forward after all this time, Flores didn’t take the decision lightly. “For years I feared my experience would be dismissed. Biden will be Biden. Boys will be boys. I worried about the doubts, the threats, the insults and the minimization.” However, her sense of duty won out over the army of doubts, she believed then and still believes now that when approaching a presidential election, the electorate deserves to be able to paint a complete picture of the candidate, especially when it comes to transgressions that are all-too-easy to gloss over. “I’m not suggesting that Biden broke any laws but the transgressions that society deems minor (or doesn’t even see as transgressions) often feel considerable to the person on the receiving end. That imbalance of power and attention is the whole point -- and the whole problem.”

Related: Biden Promises to Be 'More Mindful' About Personal Space After Women Accuse Him of Inappropriate Touching

This isn’t the first controversy to plague his unborn campaign. With a political career as long and high-profile as Biden’s, there are bound to be some discrepancies on his record, however, this doesn’t excuse these blips from scrutiny. Biden has spent the majority of his time during the lead up to his theoretical announcement apologizing for past transgressions and comments that have aged particularly poorly, many of which were in relation to high profile women’s or race issues, from Roe v. Wade and the Violent Crimes Control Act to Anita Hill. At the time of Hill’s testimony against Justice Clarence Thomas before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden chaired the committee and was largely seen as responsible for the botched handling of the testimony. While Biden did not vote for Thomas to be appointed to the Supreme Court, he holds responsibility for the tone and structure of the hearing, as well as his refusal to bring forth additional witnesses who could have substantiated Hill’s allegations. Biden, who has been repeatedly called on to speak on this, chose to say he holds ‘regret’ about the hearings, stating that “to this day I regret I could not give her the hearing she deserved.” Rather than quelling the controversy, the stark difference between Biden’s statement and ‘I did not give her the hearing she deserved’ has allowed the scrutiny to continue.

Via the Washington Post

Joe Biden has every right to run and I would be remiss to neglect all of the assets he can offer a campaign. As both a Senator and Vice President, Biden followed through on frequently touted promises to fight for Middle America and pushed for the policies that Donald Trump wishes for us to believe he pursued in office. He headed the Middle-Class Taskforce to champion policies to cap student loan payments (hallelujah) and improve retirement benefits. He was also ahead of Barack Obama (and most of America) on acceptance of same-sex marriage. Should he win the nomination, I will wholeheartedly provide my support and, ultimately, my vote.

However, I believe the problem with a Joe Biden candidacy comes in when, as an older white man, many Democrats see him as the “safe choice” over the young and extremely diverse field of nominees. We have no reason to believe that the former Vice President is the only qualified candidate who will be able to withstand the President’s inflammatory campaign strategies simply because he’s a man with name recognition. Biden’s history and actions have, in my opinion, given Democrats ample reason to pause and reconsider, especially with a field as deep as the current one is.  

Related: A Seat at the Table: The (Female) Road to 2020

We should not make the costly assumption that an older, moderate white man is the strongest candidate and cater more to other parties bases than their own. It’s possible to see the virtue of a ticket that embodies diversity and the power that we have when we stand together from the top down. Nearly every current candidate showcases the difference in what they, as a party, represent as opposed to the GOP. President Barack Obama, the most successful Democrat in recent decades, did not assemble a powerful electoral coalition and shepherd the party into a new era by sticking to the status quo or by being the safest option. He did it by unabashedly representing the change he wanted for both the party and the country. Will Joe Biden do that?