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Issue 1

September 27th, 2019

Conflict created for editor who refuses to settle

SAT. | 9-19-20 | OPINION

     From Aug. 17 to Aug. 20, Democrats made history by hosting the Democratic National Convention (DNC) largely virtually. While the majority of production and hosting was still done in Milwaukee, WI, as initially planned, very few speakers and delegates left their home states. 

     Although it has been clear for months that Joe Biden would be the Democratic nominee, the DNC made it official. In the past, conventions were primarily focused on determining

joe biden do not settle-01.jpg

Graphic by Lexi Karaivanova

who the nominee was — nowadays it is more so used to unite and excite the voters in the party. I, however, refuse to support Biden as the nominee. 

     The phrase “Settle for Biden” has spread like wildfire across the internet ever since the primaries ended. I hate the notion of settling for a candidate. Based on that alone, I knew I would not be able to take the DNC seriously. 

     When we look back at the expansive field of Democratic primary candidates, I cannot help but be disappointed that Biden is representing the Democratic party. There were so many other candidates — such as Tulsi Gabbard, Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang — with more consistent and progressive records. I was so passionate about Gabbard and her platform, whereas with Biden I find it painfully difficult to be excited for any reason other than “he is not Donald Trump.” But even that is not fully true.

     While many Democrats and liberals will not admit to this, Biden has just as sketchy of a record as Trump. During the DNC, Biden stated that he was committed to fighting racial injustice. Ironically, Biden was very vocal about opposing integration of Black and white students through busing during the mid 70’s, as noted by Business Insider. Busing, whether mandatory or voluntary, was used to desegregate schools in order to abide by the Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education. Rather than working to integrate schools by any methods, Biden worked closely with segregationists in sponsoring anti-busing bills in the 70s, as noted by interviews with NPR and accounts in local Delawarian newspapers. Decades later in his 2007 autobiography, Biden defended his anti-busing stance by calling it a “liberal trainwreck.” However, in the 2020 Democratic Debates Biden tried to backtrack and rewrite his stance when Kamala Harris brought up his record and how she benefited from busing. While Biden denies that he was ever against busing, his voting record and documented interviews paint the true picture.

     Twenty years later, Biden played a large role in drafting the 1994 Crime Bill which ended up fueling the mass incarceration of thousands upon thousands of Black, Indigenous, & People of Color (BIPOC). Under the bill, mass incarceration was incentivised through the expansion of prisons and the promise of state funding for higher incarceration rates. The bill was also especially detrimental to young BIPOC by encouraging the school-to-prison-pipeline — 13 year olds could be charged as adults in certain cases. According to the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice non-profit, Black youth are five times more likely to be detained and this rate has been increasing since the passage of the bill. 

     Now, I cannot say that the 1994 Crime Bill was the only factor in such racial disparity, but I think it is safe to assume the two are intertwined. The aforementioned provisions of the bill cannot be ignored. The good that came from the bill, such as the Violence Against Women Act, and whatever noble intent it came with does not undo the damage it has done to BIPOC communities nationwide. Whenever Biden is asked about the bill nowadays, his answer varies. As I searched for his recent stance on the bill, I found quotes of him defending the bill in mid-2019, underplaying his role in 2019 interviews and admitting it was a “big mistake” at an MLK event in 2020. How are voters supposed to trust Biden and his promises when he is so inconsistent?

     Along with his questionable policy record as it relates to racial justice — which could be forgiven if he properly made amends — Biden continuously makes statements with racist undertones. In an interview with Breakfast Club Power 105.1 FM on May 22 of this year, he broke the internet by telling Charlamagne tha God “If you have a problem figuring out if you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.” In saying this, Biden is forcing Black people into a very narrow box and defining race by political affiliation. Republican Kim Klacik, a Black woman running for Congress in Maryland, held this same concern with Biden at the Republican National Convention. During her speech, Klacik said “Joe Biden believes we can’t think for ourselves, that the color of someone’s skin dictates their political views. We’re not buying the lies anymore.” This is one of the instances where I agree with Republicans. Who is Biden, an old white man, to tell someone, especially a Black person, what it means to be Black? There is no one way to be Black. From the way that Biden acts and speaks to Black voters, his campaign promises on racial justice seem empty.

     But this is where Kamala Harris, his pick for Vice President (VP), comes in. With such an awful reputation on racial issues, what better way for Biden to appeal to Black voters than to have a Black running mate. This clear reliance on identity politics, which is its own issue, should be scrutinized. Remember, Harris was heavily attacking Biden’s record on busing at the debates. Now, suddenly, Harris is all aboard the Biden train. When Stephen Colbert brought this up to Harris last month, asking how she went from “being such an opponent” of Biden to being “pals,” she laughed and kept saying “it was a debate,” as though she did not mean the words she said in those debates.

     Though Biden’s VP pick could and should have redeemed him on the issue of racial and criminal justice, I think it did the exact opposite. As people are protesting in the streets with “defund the police” signs, it feels like salt in the wound to have a former prosecutor as VP. Harris, as a former member of law enforcement, is no exception to the intense scrutiny over police brutality and racial disparities in criminal justice. To those passionate about defunding or abolishing the police, Harris’ former occupation of prosecuting people and working with police may signal that she would be soft in responding to institutional concerns and favor expensive and surface level reform programs. While that is it's own discussion, it comes down to how voters who distrust the courts and police because of racial and criminal injustice can trust Harris who has worked in accordance with both to solve those issues.

     Aside from the issue of racial and criminal justice, Democrats have also been focusing on holding corporations and the rich accountable and taxable. Biden echoed this sentiment in his acceptance speech at the DNC. As he was saying “it's long past time the wealthiest people and the biggest corporations in this country paid their fair share,” his campaign was being financed by over 100 billionaires (accounting for 12% of all billionaires in the United States), as noted by Forbes and analyses of Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings. FEC records are public and depict who or what organizations are funding a campaign. Fittingly, Harris had the most billionaire donors, with 46 of them, during her time in the primary elections. Many former Harris donors, such as hedge fund manager Marc Lasry, have moved to financing Biden’s campaign since he announced her as his VP. Lasry, for example, donated over $40,000 to Biden once Harris was on his ticket.

     While having billionaire donors is not inherently a bad thing, it does increase the risk of corporate interests dictating Biden’s future decisions. Some of the billionaires funding Biden’s campaign have donated over a quarter of a million dollars; LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman donated $1,500,000 and real estate/casino magnate Neild Bluhm donated $500,000. That is $2,000,000 million dollars just from two people. With such large donations from a small number of individuals, like Hoffman and Bluhm, Biden would be indebted to them. If it comes down to it, Biden may not fulfill his promise of having the rich pay “their fair share” if his rich donors have anything to say about it. 

     Democrats are desperate to get Trump out of office and fight injustices, yet they fail to acknowledge that the candidate they are marketing as the solution has been, and still is, part of the problem.

     If the main and best selling point of a candidate — such as Biden — is that they are not their opponent, the standards are way too low. Politics is meant to serve the people’s best interest and I refuse to think mediocrity is what United States voters want or deserve. Settling for candidates or voting for the lesser of two evils discredits our entire democratic process. 

     So when you are at the polls or looking at your absentee ballot for November, remember elections do not and should not have to be about damage control. The only way to make America great again or to build back better, voters need to stop making excuses for subpar candidates and return the power to the people.

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