We Need to Allow People to Be Disappointed That Joe Biden Has Basically Secured the Democratic Nomination
Yesterday, progressive candidate Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race to become the Democratic nominee for president of the United States in the 2020 election against Donald Trump. It was a moment of great disappointment for many people, not only because Bernie was the candidate we backed, but because Joe Biden is a man who, in recent years, has gone from delightful “Uncle Joe” meme to someone who doesn’t inspire much confidence when it comes to his faculties. Yet, as it becomes clear that Biden is the one to back, there is already a lot of pressure being put on those who do not want to vote for Biden.
Firstly, I think the overemphasis on “Bernie or Bust” people ignores the fact that there are people who have legitimate grievances with Joe Biden. Even without the allegation of rape against him, his actions in the Anita Hill case (which Biden says he regrets but on which Hill would like to see some real progress instead), the fact that he eulogized Strom Thurmond (a segregationist with a mixed-race daughter he kept a secret for his entire life), the issue of his part in drafting and supporting the 1994 crime bill, his vote for the Iraq War, etc.
Disillusionment over Biden doesn’t just exist because we’re “fans” of Warren or Bernie. This is politics, not pop culture stan wars.
All of these politicians have something to answer for, and the frustrating reality is that many of us have done as we’ve been asked by the Democratic establishment. I voted for Hilary in 2016, even though she was not “my candidate,” and when the exit polls showed how Trump won the election, it was on the backs and efforts of white people. Yet, as a Black queer woman, I will be partly “responsible” for four more years of Trump if I choose not to vote for Biden.
When people bring up the U.S. Supreme Court, I understand the importance of that. Part of why I voted for Clinton was that very reason. Yet, let’s not forget that Biden is part of the reason Clarence Thomas sits on the Supreme Court and gives the Conservatives their majority. When Antonin Scalia died in 2016, during the presidency of Barack Obama, when Biden was vice president, we had the opportunity to put a liberal justice on the bench. Obama nominated Merrick Garland, a safe choice, to get the seat.
The Republicans opposed this citing the … hmm, what was it called again? Ah, the “Biden rule.” This “rule” was part of a 1992 speech by Joe Biden, who was a senator at the time, who argued that President Bush (the first one) should wait until after the election—importantly, not until the next administration—to appoint a replacement to the Supreme Court if there was a vacancy.
Now there is a lot of context for this. At the time, there was no Supreme Court vacancy to fill or nominee to consider, and the Senate never took a vote to adopt this as any kind of rule. Plus, he said that the nomination should come after the election because of all the partisan issues that had come up during the Thomas nomination. He did not say that the next president should make the appointment—just that the current president, and the Senate that would vote on it, should wait until the divisive political atmosphere of a presidential election was over.
Yet, Mitch McConnell was able to hijack and weaponize Biden’s own words against an administration he was part of and steal a Supreme Court seat—which was absolute, to quote Biden, malarky. But the Democrats let us down—they continue to let us down—and the political system has set it up so that they are the only ones who can save us. And what does that even look like.
I’m going to vote for Joe Biden because regardless of the outcome. I don’t want the vitriol on my doorstep of saying I didn’t do my part. However, people need to start doing critical thinking and work outside of just voting every four years in a presidential election—especially those who are quick to crap over third parties that are trying to push for progressive politics and grassroots organizers who support the communities that are often forgotten.
However, I do understand those who do not want to vote for Biden. Survivors who do not want to vote for someone accused of rape. Young Black Southerners whose families were terrorized by Thurmond. People who felt like the Obama administration promised a lot and delivered very little, whatever the reasons.
Reducing the ambivalence around Biden to just being about Bernie Sanders ignores that many of us are not “Bernie or Bust.” We just aren’t “Democrats over everything”—not when they let us down. And sadly, because there are so few ways to hold them accountable, it comes out with the vote.
I hope whomever Biden picks as his VP is good enough to encourage people to vote, and to those who are quick to judge those who have legitimate issues with Biden, maybe try to have some empathy, because I can assure you a good chunk of those people are those who are going to remain at the margins regardless of whether Biden or Trump wins.
(image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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