Biden: The Right Choice for Modern Democrats?
The former Vice President, Joe Biden has been a figure in American politics for over 40 years. He served in the Senate for the State of Delaware from 1973 to 2009 and has 8 years of experience as Vice President. This experience surely shows a man ready for the job. However, Biden’s experience acts more as a deterrent to the modern Democratic Party than an endorsement. Biden’s actions and comments in a variety of areas can only alienate him from the modern Democratic base.
Biden has had strong support in the early stages of his campaign from the African American community. His association with the newly created acceptance of African Americans in the 2008 Obama Election Campaign has meant that many African Americans trust Biden. Recently, Biden’s historical decision have come under scrutiny on racial issues, they’re the complete antithesis to his newfound image. Biden previously boasted about his ability to communicate and cooperate with a variety of Democrats. This led to Biden’s braggadocios claim to have got along with segregations from the Deep South. A startling remark if Biden is truly to represent the modern diverse base of the Democratic party. But Biden’s comments move from communication with segregationists to outright support of their policies. The former Vice President came out against the idea of desegregated bussing: the policy that attempted to ratify the Brown versus Board of Education decision to desegregate schools. Biden feared the repercussions of supporting busing, believing white voters in his Delaware would lose confidence in his candidacy. Biden’s callous votes and allies within the Senate during the early 1970s doesn’t speak of an ideolog fighting institutional racism at every turn, but a Senator too cowardly to stand up to institutional racism and would stand with segregationists if it ensured electoral security. Biden’s lack of foresight on racial issues means that the modern Democratic Party will be unlikely to trust the candidate in providing solutions to modern racial issues and respond to dynamic ever-changing political circumstances.
On foreign policy, Biden’s record is similarly adrift from the Democratic Party. Biden essentially endorsed the Bush administration’s project for a New American Century and Neo-Conservative ideology through his vote to support military action in Iraq. The Democratic base view the War on Terror in an unsurprisingly negative tone and the American population is less hawkish than in the early 2000s. Biden provided support for an operation that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and cost the American taxpayer over a trillion dollars. The former Vice President was incredibly naive in his adherence to the Bush-Cheney dynamic of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Even at the time of intervention, the prospective candidate for the Democratic nomination didn’t harbour the critical thinking facets of other politicians across the world who questioned the legitimacy and honesty of the Weapons of Mass Destruction narrative. “He is seeking nuclear weapons” Biden said. A candidate so easily hoodwinked into supporting a humanitarian disaster will be judged to lack the judgement and temperament of a commander in chief that the modern progressives within the Democratic party would accept.
Aside from votes on intervention and a lack of judgement, Biden has professed to support a free trade ideology disliked by many Democrats in the rust-belt along with Senators like Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders. He voted for the establishment of NAFTA under the Clinton administration. NAFTA was deployed in a way to profit the American and Mexican elite, rather than the blue-collar workers of the rust belt. Unions even suggested a NAFTA based on equalising labour rights across the continent, rather than outsourcing manufacturing industry. Senator Biden simply followed the Clinton’s into supporting a deal that hurt the parts of blue-collar America where he was born in Pennsylvania. By the Obama administration, Joe Biden still hadn’t learnt his lesson continuing to support free trade deals that failed to accord with traditional blue-collar Democrats. Biden supported the TPP, a deal that threatened to further enable the outsourcing of manufacturing industry across the Pacific to South East Asia. Biden’s seems completely out of touch with the values of the Democratic base on foreign policies issues, undermining his credibility and the congruence of Biden’s campaign.
The man from Scranton has to be considered a scandal hit politician, which never will never endear a candidate to his party and his nation. Under the Obama administration, his strange actions around young women were recorded and seen internationally. The allegations are were very serious with seven women accusing Biden of inappropriate conduct. Biden’s old-fashioned attitudes to male female relationship are reminiscent of the behaviours of the 1970s. His activities will make Americans question whether he has the integrity or etiquette of a President. The modern Democratic Party is far more female than it was back when Joe Biden became a Senator, but he’s failed to acclimatise to the equal treatment of women. Democrats have been polling well with women and female voters are considered critical to taking the White House in 2020. Biden’s candidacy will likely abandon the moral high ground that female voters have placed within the Democratic Party.
Biden’s scandals aren’t solely predicated upon his maltreatment of women, but his genuine integrity as a politician. In his first run for the Democratic nomination back in 1988, Biden gave an eloquent personal speech about his life and the struggles in Scranton. This seems like nothing out of the ordinary, but this was a plagiarised speech originally spoken by Neil Kinnock the Former Leader of the Labour Party. This could seem like a minor problem. However, this fundamentally eviscerates his claim to integrity and connection to the working man. The grandiose connections that candidates have has been integral to successful Presidential candidates of old. Jimmy Carter had the peanut farmer image of being a genuine manifestation of the Agrarian South, Dwight D. Eisenhower had his World War Two Commander legacy and even Warren Harding had his businessman image. Will Biden’s image be of a man without a legitimate story to tell, a façade based on sand? The Democratic base has responded to the stories of other candidates in the race with Andrew Yang’s establishment of innovative start-ups and Tulsi Gabbard’s military service. The American public need a story to attach themselves too, the Biden camp lack this epithet.
Biden has cast crucial votes in ways that failed to align with the modern Democratic Party’s base. Political candidates are erudite and able to realign themselves with the values of their party to win crucially needed support. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Bill Clinton had that immense ability to see the mode of the country and the Democratic base with the sole purpose of realigning themselves in accordance to their values. Biden has shown none of this versatility. Within the current campaign, Joe Biden has made anachronistic and out of touch assertions for the Democratic Base. The assertion that Medicare for All is an unworkable solution, that free college is ludicrous and cutting welfare should be considered. Biden has no comprehension of the hostility and contempt these views are held in within the Democratic Party Base. He’s failed to align himself with the party’s modern values, clinging to the years of consensus Washington Politics that ended with the start of the Obama years. Much of Biden’s approach fails to align not solely with the Democratic base but the wider American public. His yearning for a centre ground has given way to the radical politics of Sanders and Warren on the left opposed to Trump and Bannon’s ideas on the right. Biden seems to be caught within a political bubble where he fails to understand the compromise triangulation era of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton have subsided for this age of radicalism and polarisation.
Image: Flickr / Gage Skidmore