Pass the torch, Joe Biden

‘No’ to Biden

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Gage Skidmore/Flickr

By Emma Garber, Assistant Op/Ed Editor

On June 27, in one of the first Democratic debates, United States Representative Eric Swalwell told an anecdote from his childhood. “I was six years old when a presidential candidate came to the California Democratic convention and said it’s time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans. That candidate was then-Senator Joe Biden.”

Swalwell may not have made it far in the race towards the White House, but he was correct about Joe Biden. It’s time the former vice president passed the torch to a new generation.

Simply put, Biden is outdated. As beloved as he was as vice president, he is not the candidate we need in 2020. A 2018 Gallup poll found that 51 percent of the Democratic party identifies as liberal. Biden may have run as a progressive in his first 1972 Senate campaign, but that was 48 years ago. Through the years, Biden has become a staunch moderate, voicing support for cutting Social Security and raising the retirement age. He’s friendly with big banks, voted for the Iraq War and supported legislation that contributed to mass incarceration. Biden does not represent the current Democratic party. If the party is going left, why stay in the center?

Additionally, Biden’s record as a politician is cause for concern. In the 70s, Biden actively opposed public school integration, and famously spoke out against the federally mandated bussing policy. Two decades later, Biden acted as the Senate Judiciary chair when Anita Hill alleged that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her. Biden did not call for additional witnesses and allowed Senate Republicans to chastise Hill repeatedly. Though Biden has formally apologized to Hill, this does not lessen the stain that his mistreatment of her has left on our country’s judicial system. His actions perpetuated a patriarchal system that does not listen to survivors but rather sits back and stays silent. His indifference towards Hill’s testimony is especially concerning paired with several women’s allegations that Biden touched them in an overly affectionate, unwanted manner.

There’s a commonality with all of Biden’s previous scandals: he historically speaks out against injustices only when it is convenient for him. He was for segregation when white voters wanted him to be, then later claimed to be a civil rights champion. He did not listen to Hill, then later apologized when facing scrutiny. He once claimed to be a progressive, then fell comfortably into the center. He has backtracked on his actions too many times to count. He hasn’t simply evolved over the years – he has completely reinvented himself.

We’ve tried establishment democrats in the past. Hillary Clinton and John Kerry could not win with their moderate beliefs. Democrats should not shy away from progressive candidates. “Uncle Joe” needs to heed his own advice and pass the torch. The Democratic party is changing, it’s time for younger, progressive candidates to carry the torch.

Emma Garber is an Assistant Op/Ed Editor and can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @EmmaGarber1.