The views expressed in this column are the reflection of my own views and perceptions as a political science student and are not reflective of all members of the BGSU College Democrats.
On April 25, Joe Biden announced his candidacy for president of the United States. Biden is often regarded as a hero in the Democratic Party; he started his Senate career in 1972 and has overseen much of the Democrat-led legislation over the past five decades.
He prides himself in the passing of the Violence Against Women Act and a federal assault-weapons ban. He served as vice president under our first African American president and the most progressive administration in modern American history.
Given the admiration young Democrats hold for Barack Obama, Joe Biden should be a shoo-in for the Democrats’ 2020 candidate, right? It’s not quite that simple.
Biden’s messy history regarding policy in the Senate and his clear lack of connection to the progressive ideals of younger Democrats are both reasons while I won’t be toting a “Biden 2020” sticker on my laptop any time soon. Although I don’t know the answer to who should lead the fight against Trump, I am absolutely sure Biden is not that candidate.
Biden’s troublesome policy begins with his history of opposing desegregation measures in the 1970s while he served as a senator from Delaware.
The proof lies in his voting record: in 1975, Biden voted to prevent the Department of Health, Education and Welfare from requiring public schools to provide information about their racial makeup to the government. This policy made it seemingly impossible for the government to withhold funding from schools that refused to desegregate.
If there’s no punishment for refusing to desegregate, what was stopping schools that still held racist values from keeping black and white students separate? Absolutely nothing.
Biden’s vote on this issue would have allowed schools to further stall the process of desegregation the United States. Luckily, this legislation failed to pass; however, Biden’s vote left a stain on his experience with racial equality.
Joe Biden’s legislative history on criminal justice is also a sign he is not the 2020 candidate Democrats should strive for. He played an influential role in crafting the 1994 crime bill, which created harsher sentencing for non-violent criminals, built an expansive number of prisons and expanded the death penalty.
These policies have resulted in unjust treatment of the black community; black Americans are incarcerated at a much higher rate in the United States, despite the fact that white Americans hold the highest percentage of violent crime offenses when compared to any other race or ethnicity.
Biden is so proud of the crime bill that he has often referred to it as the “1994 Biden Crime Bill.” He has been known to use this phrase as recently as 2015. Although he may have not known the repercussions that would occur at the time the bill was passed, his more recent pride in the bill shows his lack of regard for the millions of black lives that have been treated unjustly in our criminal justice system.
Biden’s legislation helped create a criminal justice system that is currently bursting at the seams; one in four of the world’s prisoners sit behind bars in the United States, yet the amount of crime has been on the decline of decades. These trends don’t match up — they are the result of poor legislation Biden was instrumental in passing.
You may be asking: why I am so fired up about Biden’s past? Isn’t it possible for politicians to change their views and make mistakes? Absolutely! Many Democrats have changed their minds over the past decade on issues such as gay marriage equality or their support for the war in Iraq.
However, Biden has done little to nothing to prove he is a candidate who will properly represent racial minorities in a just way. A Biden presidency would only represent the Democratic party of the 1990s: a party that catered to the moderates of the party and ignored minorities.
I have no problem with Democrats who hold moderate views, but when that moderation comes at the price of ignoring equality and justice for black Americans, women, Latinos, Native Americans, members of the LGBTQ community, etc., then those moderates no longer hold the same values I do.
As Democrats, we must hold our candidates accountable for their actions. It’s not enough to say: “Well, at least Biden’s better than Trump.” Of course he is, but the Democrats have a crowded pool of qualified candidates who are pushing for new, progressive policies that will push forward social justice in our country.
If we keep looking to the past and elevating candidates who represent outdated ideals, the Democratic party will set itself up for another loss.