You can’t make me vote for Biden
Four years after Trump’s infamous comments about grabbing women “by the pussy,” Democratic voters have been put in a strange position. After making hay of this comment for years, particularly after the numerous allegations of sexual assault against the president, our party leadership – in its infinite wisdom – has served us with a nominee who has been credibly accused of literally grabbing a woman’s genitals against her consent.
The situation gets even weirder when we see Democrats – who were rightfully outraged against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the supreme court – trot out many of the exact same arguments that the right used to try to discredit Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony to Congress. She remained silent about the abuse for years. There haven’t been other allegations – which eventually turned out, by the way, to be false. Her politics are suspect. We’ve seen this shit before, flying out of the mouths of aging ghouls like Chuck Grassley and Mitch McConnell. Now we see it – almost word for word – from the standard bearers of centrist liberalism, like the Times and MSNBC.
We had so many options early on in the 2020 primary. We had… a young gay mayor of a small Midwestern town, a Democratic socialist, an Asian-American entrepreneur touting universal basic income, a lawyer and crusader for consumers’ rights, a woman of color serving in the Senate… the list goes on. When the establishment center of the party coalesced around its own candidate in a coordinated effort to stop the Democratic Socialist upsurge, they picked…. Biden.
Joseph Biden. The man who not only voted for the 2003 Iraq Invasion, but really spearheaded the effort to get the Democratic Party united behind this illegal and pointless war that cost the deaths of thousands of Americans, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, trillions of dollars that could have been spent on, say, adequate seawalls for coastal cities like New Orleans, and led directly to the revitalization of radical Jihadism in the region. The man who voted for a 2005 bill that removed bankruptcy protections for ordinary American households, protections that probably would have come in handy in the ensuing financial crisis just two years later.1 The man who opposed school busing to help integrate America’s still highly segregated schools in the 1970s, racial segregation that has severely damaged the quality of education for millions of black children in this country.
Which brings us to yet more hypocrisy. The fact that Kamala Harris could – with justified and commendable fury – attack Joseph Biden for opposing busing policies that gave her a much needed leg-up as a black child in California, and attack him for his far too warm affinity for overtly segregationist lawmakers, in the primary debates, and then endorse him as the party’s nominee for president, speaks to the kind of rank opportunism we as the voters are being asked to partake in here.
A record of segregationism, of a devastating pro-war foreign policy, of stripping away consumer protections cannot be so easily swept under the rug. Nor can – despite Biden’s creepy declaration to his accuser, Tara Reade, that “you are nothing,” and centrist, middle class liberals’ ringing endorsement of that sentiment – a sexual assault allegation and a record of overtly, physically creepy behavior toward women. Did the Democratic party machine see Trump’s victory in 2016 and conclude that the only possible way to beat him was to go out there and find a near-identical copy of this pig? Ingenious political strategy it might be – I’m no political operative so maybe I’m missing something here – but as the distinctions become less and less apparent, the gap between our nominee and theirs narrows more and more, I have less and less reason to agonize over which rapist wins this particular popularity contest.
Which is not to say that I blame good progressives for suppressing their gag reflex and voting Biden. If people want to vote for Biden because of the way that the president has handled the coronavirus crisis, that is a perfectly valid reason. If people want to vote for Biden because of the way the president handled the nuclear crisis with North Korea, that is also a perfectly valid reason. If people want to vote for Biden because the president denies the science on global warming, another great reason. Environmental destruction, the risk of nuclear conflict, the spread of a pandemic – these are all existential threats that have been egregiously mishandled, even actively abetted by the raging idiot who now happens to be the most powerful man on the planet.
But when the other side presents me with a pro-war, quasi-segregationist, pro-financial-exploitation septuagenarian who is rapidly aging out of any semblance of coherent thought, it gives me pause, and I have a tough decision to make. Every politician pushily urging me to support party unity, every opinion piece trashing Tara Reade as non-credible, every talking head implausibly telling me that I’m refusing to vote for a racist sexual assault perpetrator because I have white male privilege doesn’t make me more likely to vote for Biden – it makes me, and people like me, dig my heels in further. You can’t make me vote for Biden, and a lot of people feel the same way. Unless you want to see a wave of protest voting the likes of which this country has never seen before, and a repeat of 2016, knock it off and leave us alone to deal with the terrible hand we’ve been dealt.