Joe Biden: From The Perspective of a Young Woman Studying At His Alma Mater

As you may know, Joe Biden recently announced his run for the 2020 presidential race. Well before he began his bid, Biden performed extremely well in polls and in many was the top contender for the Democratic party. With the primary election only months away, it is important to inspect a candidate from all angles and to not base political opinions on only one news outlet, or even on one party’s viewpoint. Foremost, I would like to state that I do not intend to formulate any of your opinions on Biden’s candidacy. Overall, who one votes for is an incredibly personal and hopefully an incredibly informed decision. That being said, Biden has recently gotten criticism for inappropriate actions taken towards certain women. I have some personal experience with Biden and want to share my belief that, while considering the allegations against him, he is still a decent man who deserves a fighting chance in the upcoming election.

First, I would like to share my personal biases. I was born and semi-raised in Biden’s home state of Delaware; I am a Junior attending the University of Delaware, Biden’s alma mater; I study Public Policy in a college that was recently renamed “The Biden School of Public Policy”. I have not personally met Biden, but I know plenty of people who have, which I’ll discuss a bit later. Before allegations about Biden came out, he was incredibly well regarded in my community across party lines and was even given the nickname “The Grandfather of Delaware”, locally, and “America’s uncle”, nationally.

Biden’s morality has recently been questioned with allegations from powerful women coming forth including Lucy Flores, Amy Lappos and D.J. Hill, among others. They each stated similar experiences of Biden acting inappropriate towards them, however none of them claimed that they were sexually assaulted. Flores reported that Biden kissed the top of her head, Lappos stated “...it wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head” and Hill went on to say that Biden had rested his hand on her shoulder. Each of these women deserve to be heard. I’ll revisit these women later on, but for now I’d like to review some of Biden’s political successes.

In my home state of Delaware, Biden began his political career as an attorney before moving up to become a member of the New Castle City council. I am well aware that New Castle, Delaware is an incredibly volatile area and that Biden helped a great deal with his service to the community.  Biden became a member of the U.S. senate two years later and by 2009 became one of the most senior and seasoned members of the senate. Biden then became Vice President of The United States, serving alongside former president, Barack Obama, where he led successful campaigns in foreign relations and funding cancer research after his son died of the disease.

Biden certainly isn’t perfect, but there’s hardly a politician out there who is. While serving as the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, Biden made one of the biggest mistakes of his political career. How he handled the sexual assault testimony given by Anita Hill in the Judicial trials of Clarence Thomas was absolutely negligible. Thomas’ supreme court trials feel all too real in today’s day and age after rape allegations were brought out against Justice Brett Kavanaugh only last year. More should have been done for Dr. Blassey-Ford, the accuser in the more recent situation, and Biden has stated that he wishes he had played a bigger role in helping Hill bring Justice Thomas to justice himself in light of this. In Anita Hill’s case, she claimed that Justice Thomas had done the following;

“[Justice Thomas] repeatedly asked [Hill] to go out with him in a social capacity and would not take no for an answer. She said he would talk about sex in vivid detail, describing pornography he had seen involving women with large breasts, women having sex with animals, group sex and rape scenes. Judge Thomas would also talk about his own ‘sexual prowess’ in workplace conversations, Ms. Hill said. And he once mentioned a pornographic film whose star was called ‘Long Dong Silver,’ which turned into an infamous name in American political lore.” (J. Jacobs, New York Times).

As the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden could have done substantially more to help Anita Hill, however he isn’t entirely to blame. Biden was not the one grilling Hill, but his committee was. Biden did, however, refuse to bring forth additional witnesses in the case against Justice Thomas even though more women had allegations against him and is also criticized for structuring the committee poorly. Biden went forth to vote against Justice Thomas, though he was later elected to the Supreme Court regardless.

Since the Thomas trial, Biden has improved his stance on helping women prevent assault and rape with respect to Hill. In 2014, Biden launched the It’s On Us campaign aimed at fighting sexual assault nationally. It’s On Us’ main platform was engaging everyone in the conversation to end sexual violence and making it less of a stigmatic topic. It’s On Us also gave more momentum to the widespread #MeToo movement in later years which encouraged even more women to speak up about sexual violence and assault.

In March, Lucy Flores was the first women to accuse Biden of inappropriate conduct. She has explicitly stated that Biden did not sexually assault her. Many other women have provided similar testimony that, although not assault, they found his conduct inappropriate. Certain media outlets insinuated the uncomfortable conduct to be sexual assault.

With respect to the #MeToo movement and powerful women such as Aly Raisman and others who have experienced incredibly violent sexual assault such as rape, the question can be asked of how much you have to go through to consider something sexual assault. Multiple media outlets have called Biden’s contact assault which, to me, is disgraceful.

In the world of politics, there is quite literally a technique known as “Bidening”. “Bidening” is coined by Biden’s demeanour in a political setting in which one (like Joe Biden himself) plays the room they’re in, jokes around to make others feel less tense, and acts like a friend or grandfatherly figure to try to break the ice. A kiss on the head, touching a shoulder or patting a back can be uncomfortable. None of the women who brought to light this behavior should be discredited, but it should not be taken so far as to call it sexual assault. Going this far discredits and offends those who have experienced actual sexual assault such as Raisman, Blasey-Ford (allegedly) or a young woman or man reading this article.

I personally have not met Biden. I have come into contact with him at book signings, speeches and lectures but I do not have personal experience with his behavior. I do however know plenty of students who have met him and describe that although he does get “up close”, it is not intended to be sexual or creepy in any way at all. These testimonies come from young college women who are ages 18-22, and in the minds of some, may be Biden’s prime target.

When Biden meets people, he “Bidens” them and tries to make people as comfortable around him as possible. I’ve met and interviewed celebrities before and can absolutely say that this goes a long way in a tense situation. Biden takes people’s hand in both of his for a handshake, listens attentively and closely to the person he’s speaking to and, like a grandfather, will tell you that he sees a bright future for you. He has hugged students I know, patted them on the back and often is caught posing for selfies with students. Overall, he seems like one of the most genuinely kind politicians in the maddening sphere of politics.

To conclude, Biden should not be discredited for his seemingly inappropriate actions towards some women. His actions are not sexual assault, or even assault for that matter. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions, but don’t obtain all of your political opinions from inflammatory news media solely meant for the purpose of spreading exaggeratory rhetoric.