I’m Not Voting For Joe Biden. Neither Should You.

Joe Biden is bad, really bad. His record is atrocious, his campaign platform is wholly inadequate, he appears to be in significant cognitive decline, and he has credibly been accused of both sexual harassment and sexual assault numerous times. If you want to reduce harm, mindlessly voting for Joe Biden is not the answer.

History has not been kind to Joseph Biden. 

Joe Biden rose to national prominence as a senator in the 1970s when he teamed up with North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, an unapologetically racist Republican politician and notorious segregationist, to effectively do away with federally-mandated school desegregation (through busing). In fact, preventing the federal government from desegregating school children was so important to Biden that he openly remarked during a senate hearing that no issue had consumed more of his time and energies during his first eight years in office. This anti-desegregation crusade was not limited to the ‘70s either. Biden persisted with his attempts to prevent the federal government from desegregating school children as late as 1982, when he teamed up with yet another racist Republican segregationist, Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who Biden later showed fawning praise for in his eulogy of Thurmond in 2003.

In addition to working with Thurmond to maintain America’s segregationist school system, which deprived students of color from receiving the same level of education as their white counterparts, Biden also worked with Thurmond as one of the principal movers of the disastrous war on drugs, which disproportionately deprived those very same students of color and their families from the freedoms and legal protections afforded to their white counterparts. In fact, Biden was so staunchly dedicated to locking up low-level drug offenders that he openly called on Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush to ramp up the war on drugs. However, Biden’s role in the war on drugs reached its peak in 1994, during the Clinton administration, when he authored the infamous Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which, among other things, led to the near-exponential rise of America’s prison population, expanded the use of the death penalty, denied higher education rights to the incarcerated, and enacted the infamous “three-strike” provision.

Biden’s other offenses in criminal justice involve his co-authoring of the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse act (which created the discriminatory 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine), as well as his convenient application of the ‘rule of law’ he so viciously sought to establish. You see, while Biden fought tooth and nail to ensure that punitive legal measures be applied to people of color and the working class, his wealth, power, and privilege provided legal immunity for his children, Ashley and Hunter, who were respectively arrested for cannabis possession and discharged from the navy for cocaine usage, yet neither had any charges brought against them. 

This run-of-the-mill corruption is to be expected from Biden. After all, he earned the nickname ‘the Senator from MBNA’ for his cozy relationship to the predatory lender, which was the largest independent credit card company headquartered in Delaware prior to being acquired by Bank of America in 2006. This cozy relationship proved beneficial for Biden and MBNA: the company provided generous campaign contributions, hired Biden’s son Hunter, and had an executive questionably purchase Biden’s home; in exchange, MBNA received Biden’s vote to repeal Glass-Steagall (which undoubtedly exacerbated the 2008 financial crisis, if not caused it), Biden’s championing of the 2005 bankruptcy reforms (which made it more difficult for everyday Americans to file for bankruptcy protections and impossible for you and I to discharge our student loan debt), and a plethora of other legislation that propped up big banks and screwed over the working class. Again, this is to be expected; after all, Joe Biden is the man who openly discussed on television how willing he was to “prostitute” himself to large corporations.  

And prostitute himself he did; throughout his 47 years in office, Biden has consistently sold out the working class and shilled for his corporate donors. As early as 1984 and as recently as 2018, Biden has advocated for cuts to social security. He did this under the self-proclaimed noble effort of balancing the budget, all while voting over and over again to cut taxes for the rich. In addition to gutting the social safety net and cutting taxes for the rich, Biden also sought to ensure that workers be belittled by free trade agreements: He voted for NAFTA and PNTR with China, both of which outsourced millions of good-paying jobs, forced workers to accept lower wages, and further bolstered the power corporations have over their workers, the population, and the government. Despite his veneer of blue-collar politics, Joe Biden is no friend of the working class. 

As if devastating the lives of the working class and people of color in America wasn’t enough, Biden played a crucial role in leading America into the war in Iraq, championing an illegal offensive war that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Not only did Biden vote for the Iraq war, but, as chair of the Senate committee on foreign relations, he used his influence to staunchly advocate for it. As the chair of the Senate committee on foreign relations, Biden stacked the Senate hearing with pro-war witnesses who flooded the Senate and press with false claims that were used to justify the murderous, trillion-dollar war in Iraq.

Nothing Will Fundamentally Change

After issuing a non-apology for the numerous accusations of sexual misconduct against him, Joe Biden entered the 2020 Democratic primary by making headlines for telling a room full of wealthy Wall Street donors that “nothing would fundamentally change” if he’s elected. He’s right. 

Under a Biden presidency, we would likely see a return to the status quo. The usual suspects would join the Biden administration: John Kerry would halt his well-paid Wall Street speeches and step down from the board of Bank of America to re-enter his role as Secretary of State; Rahm Emanuel would stop telling working-class coal miners that they should “learn to code” and reminiscing about how he covered up the brutal state-sanctioned murder of a black teenager to advise Biden; Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, would take a break from lobbying for bank deregulation and the repeal of Obamacare to serve his good-friend Joe as Treasury secretary; and Larry Summers, notorious sexist and advocate of devastating economic policies, would serve as Biden’s chief economic advisor. Together, the Biden administration would work to draft ‘free trade’ deals, subsidize their buddies on Wall-Street, and occasionally throw symbolic scraps to vulnerable communities by issuing token social justice executive orders that do nothing to substantively better the lives of the communities they are pandering to.  

While this may be a desired outcome for the professional managerial-class and the wealthy, it’s a nightmare for everybody else. Why else would nearly 62,000,000 Americans take a chance and vote for a politically inexperienced reality-TV show clown who constantly railed against the status quo? It’s because, for so many Americans, the status-quo represents everything that is wrong with America: corruption, empty platitudes, and declining socioeconomic statuses. As it turns out, that is exactly what Biden is offering us. 

Biden kicked off his campaign with a big-dollar fundraiser in the home of a Comcast executive, hosted by the CEO of a major health insurance company. His campaign chairman, Steve Ricchetti, is a former healthcare lobbyist. His brother, James, is heavily invested in the for-profit healthcare industry. All in all, by the ‘end’ of the primary, Biden had received more campaign contributions from the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries than any other candidate. As such, it is no surprise that his healthcare plan would continue to enrich those profiting off of sickness and leave Americans out to die. However, one might think that, given the global pandemic and the total collapse of our for-profit healthcare system, Biden would adjust his healthcare position to the moderate, life-saving, cost-effective, and overwhelmingly popular Medicare-for-All. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Recently, when asked for the umpteenth time whether the global pandemic had shifted his position on healthcare, Biden said “I do not support Medicare-for-All. I will not support Medicare-for-All.” Earlier in the year, Biden even went so far as to say he would undemocratically veto the extraordinarily popular plan if it passed the house and senate. Instead, Biden is fully dedicated to “building on Obamacare,” which is corporate Democrat speak for tinkering around the edges of a Republican healthcare system that allows tens of thousands of Americans to die each year because they cannot afford medical treatment, hundreds of thousands of Americans to file for the uniquely American phenomenon of medical bankruptcy, and tens of millions of Americans to ration health care so that we can have the ‘freedom’ of ‘choosing’ which rapacious for-profit health insurance company we would like to be price-gouged by. More specifically, Biden’s healthcare plan, if perfectly implemented, leaves 10-15 million Americans uninsured, and tens of millions more underinsured. Furthermore, Biden’s healthcare plan maintains the employer-based model that we are seeing crumble before our eyes. 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and as a result, many will lose their employer-sponsored healthcare. But, fear not, Uncle Joe has released a bold new plan to increase tax-payer subsidies to price-gouging health insurance companies. 

Recent estimates have shown that Biden’s healthcare plan would kill 125,000 people over 10 years. While that may seem like an abstract and inconsequential number to the vote shaming centrists angrily reading this article from their comfortable suburban homes; for me, my family, and millions of other working-class people in America, that projected death toll is as real as a heart attack, and one that our prematurely ended lives could contribute to. Unfortunately, the projected deaths caused by Biden’s ‘profit over people’ healthcare system pale in comparison to the ongoing global climate crisis, which Biden’s industry-friendly climate plan does little to prevent. While Biden’s status-quo healthcare plan may kill working-class Americans and their bank accounts, his industry-friendly plan to ‘combat’ climate change may very well end up killing everybody in the long run. Though, as many will be quick to point out, Biden’s plan will kill us slower than Donald Trump’s. What a relief.

The Man Cannot Speak

It’s an uncomfortable topic but ignoring it doesn’t change reality: Joe Biden appears to be in significant cognitive decline. Whereas Biden was delivering cogent long-forum interviews in 2016, today he can hardly make it through a non-teleprompter assisted statement or seven-minute stump speech without long-awkward pauses, gaffes, and a general sense of confusion. It’s uncomfortable to watch, and should certainly give pause to centrist liberals with “Any Functioning Adult” bumper stickers.

Biden and ‘Me Too’

As previously mentioned, Biden is no stranger to sexual misconduct. He has visibly made women and young girls uncomfortable on camera, and been accused of inappropriate touching, sexual misconduct, and sexual assault several times. The most disturbing accusation comes from former Biden staffer Tara Reade, whose sexual assault accusation is so disturbing that I will not recount it. The accusation, which has more corroboration than Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation against Brett Kavanaugh, received no coverage from mainstream media until the New York Times finally ran a biased article about the allegations, that was literally edited by the Biden campaign. 

The ensuing weeks have been just as biased. Now, much of mainstream media has dismissed Reade’s claims as frivolous, clinging to reports that Reade may have misrepresented her academic credentials as an expert witness in criminal cases. While these reports should certainly be considered when assessing Reade’s claims, it appears that this scrutiny only applies to the accuser, not the accused. You see, if the media and the Democratic establishment applied the same level of scrutiny to Joe Biden as they have to Tara Reade, they would quickly discover that Biden is extremely untrustworthy.

He lied about the Obama-Biden administration locking people in cages (they did). He lied about championing the war in Iraq (he did). He lied about marching in the civil rights movement (he did not). He lied about teaching at the University of Pennsylvania (he did not). He fabricated an inspiringly false story about visiting Afghanistan. He fabricated a story about being arrested while going to visit Nelson Mandela. He has been caught plagiarizing speeches several times. And, like Reade may have done, Biden lied about his academic credentials. Maybe, just maybe, Biden’s denial should be met with as much skepticism as Reade’s allegations. 

Recall that as substantial evidence came out corroborating Tara Reade’s claims, Nancy Pelosi and other members of Democratic leadership came out and endorsed Joe Biden, throwing the legitimacy of the Me Too Movement under the bus as they joined the Biden campaign’s Republican-like smear campaign against Tara Reade. 

To quote Branko Marcetic, “In Biden, the Democrats have truly found their closest possible Trump equivalent: a candidate whose family relentlessly profits off his political career, has an alarmingly casual disregard for the truth, is frequently incoherent in public, has a history of alleged sexual misconduct, and can seemingly do nothing to lose his party’s favor, no matter how awful. But while Trump was a creature forced on an unwilling Republican establishment, Biden’s candidacy only exists because of the concerted efforts of his party’s establishment, who chose him fully conscious of his history of sexual misconduct, and have now decided their best bet is to call an ever more credible alleged assault survivor a liar. To paraphrase Rachel Maddow: If you think there is a national Democratic Party separate and apart from Joe Biden at this point, the Democratic Party would like to disabuse you of that notion.”

No, I Would Not Vote For Joe Biden If He Boiled Babies and Ate Them

Last month, Katha Pollitt, a columnist at the Nation, wrote that she “would vote for Joe Biden if he boiled babies and ate them. He wasn’t my candidate, but taking back the White House is that important.” Perhaps more so than anything in recent memory, these words perfectly encapsulate the ‘lesser of two evils’ philosophy that has led us to the hellscape we find ourselves in. Each side voting for who they perceive to be the ‘lesser evil’ inevitably creates a continually existential politics that can be used to justify nearly everything, from boiling babies and eating them, to the more ‘reasonable’ destruction of Palestinians. This rationale is often used not only to shame voters but to suppress dissent, because if you are not totally for ‘our’ side then you are helping the ‘other’ side, which means that you actually support the ‘greater of two evils’ by default. This will come as no surprise, but I have never found these arguments particularly convincing. 

The ‘lesser of two evils’ philosophy is based upon the utilitarian principle of harm reduction. While harm reduction is a noble goal, it falls flat on its face when situations are oversimplified and when dissent is not tolerated. Unfortunately, oversimplification and the rejection of dissent are recurring themes in mainstream ‘lesser of two evils’ discourse. Voters are led to believe that the only opportunity they have to reduce evil is on election day, when they must make a binary decision about which reprehensible candidate is less evil. If you have even the slightest reservations, then you are told, as one top Obama insider put it, to “shut up [and] get in line.” The reality, however, is that there are many opportunities before election day to reduce evil and that shutting up and getting in line does absolutely nothing to reduce the evil of your preferred political candidate. Thus, oversimplifying electoral politics and rejecting dissent maintain levels of harm that could have otherwise been reduced.

“But Trump is even worse than Biden!” True, Biden is the lesser of two evils, but his past and present actions are so morally reprehensible that he cannot be voted for. At some point, a line must be drawn. As has been shown, ‘Vote Blue No Matter Who’ Democrats would have no problem voting for a cannibalistic baby boiler. More ‘reasonable’ voters may consider the boiling and consumption of babies to be a bit too far, but feel it is well within reason to vote for a man with the aforementioned past, present, and future that Joe Biden has. Others, like myself, see Biden’s segregationist roots, advancement of the police state, willingness to spite the working class in order to appease his corporate donors, clear cognitive decline, disturbing sexual misconduct, status-quo candidacy, and pure unwillingness to cede a meaningful inch to activists, as beyond the pale. 

Though I am sure many are not in favor of the evil things Joe Biden has done and will do, the second you commit to voting for Joe Biden, you give him no reason to stop being evil. He has your vote. He knows that (you think) you have nowhere else to go. What are you going to do, write a strongly worded letter that says “although we will vote for you, we would greatly appreciate it if you stop bombing innocent children overseas?” He wouldn’t read anything past “we will vote for you.” Therefore, if you really want to reduce evil, you must be willing to say that you will not vote for Joe Biden. Join (or form) a coalition of like-minded people. Make a list demanding that evil be lessened. State that your vote for the Democratic party is conditional upon your demands being met. If those demands are not met, then, to quote Joe Biden, “you have to go vote for someone else.” Then, and only then, will the Democratic party even consider your demands for a better world. However, be warned: you will be vilified. Because, as US politics dictates, unwanted electoral outcomes are the fault of the population, not the political parties who hold much of the population in contempt.

This article was written by Angel Olvera. Please send an email to aao374@nyu.edu to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

4 thoughts on “I’m Not Voting For Joe Biden. Neither Should You.

    1. Máté,

      It’s rather unfortunate that you have bought into the existential “lesser of two evils” framework that I specifically address in the article. I hope you can forgive me for thinking that better things are possible.

      Sincerely,
      Angel (Somebody who will not be voting for either of the war-mongering corporatist rapists)

    1. Zen,

      First and foremost, I suggest that you collectively bargain your vote to obtain policy concessions and/ the removal of Joe Biden from the ticket. If, by November, these efforts do not pay off, then you really only have two options: vote third-party or leave the top of the ballot blank. I would recommend voting third-party. Howie Hawkins, the presumptive nominee of the Green Party, seems promising. His platform is progressive and voting for the Green Party could give them the votes required to obtain ballot access – which is essential for challenging the two-party duopoly. If you do not find Hawkins or any other third-party candidates satisfactory, then you can leave the top of the ballot empty. I would not suggest this method. However, if you do so, you should focus a greater amount of attention on state and local races – a lot of meaningful change can be achieved at the state and local level.

      In solidarity,
      Angel

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