The views expressed in this article are the views of the author.
No one will ever mistake me for an enthusiastic supporter of Mr. Biden. The very first piece I wrote for “The Retriever,” a little over a year ago, was “How Electable is Joe Biden?”, in which I propose the answer: not very. It now seems, however, that I am eating my words.
I stand by everything said in my previous article: Biden is old, marred by gaffes and out of touch with the new younger demographic of the Democratic party. However, in this particular presidential election, the left did not have the luxury of selecting our perfect candidate (if such a person could be found) when the major opposing candidate was a demagogue with an unnervingly faithful fan base.
Though there was very little room to claim ignorance of Trump’s nature in the 2016 election, there is absolutely none now. Many Democrats did not vote in the 2016 election for two main reasons: one, they did not like Hillary Clinton, and two, no one seriously expected Trump to win. This rationale has no standing in the 2020 race.
However one personally feels about Joe Biden in this race is immaterial. We are aware of Trump’s ability to win the presidential race and that his base is large, unswayable and enthusiastic. Contending that “I’m not going to vote in this race, I don’t like either of the candidates” was no longer passable (if it ever was).
While some people could hide behind “He’ll tone it down once he gets into the White House” in 2015, we now know that the Trump administration gleefully and aggressively inflicts serious damage on social and political institutions.
During his four years in office, Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement, seriously damaging the efficacy of the accord and increasing damage to the global environment. The Supreme Court is now packed with incredibly conservative justices for the next generation. Thousands of women were given non-consensual hysterectomies while detained for crossing the border and hundreds of immigrant children are still in U.S. custody, with the Department of Homeland Security unable to locate their parents. Not to mention, Trump’s cavalier handling of the coronavirus has resulted in over 145,000 preventable deaths.
We need a president who will take the pandemic seriously. We need someone who won’t get into Twitter spats with his critics. We need someone who knows how Washington works, who isn’t afraid to condemn white supremacists. We need someone who has at least a semblance of a backbone or moral code, though I personally do not agree with it. While Biden is not the liberal icon the country needs or wants, he is someone who will do these things.
Many liberals have expressed frustration with the fact that Biden’s entire campaign seemed to have been “Look, I’m not Trump.” I agree that we should hold politicians to a higher standard than one step above rock bottom. But the long and the short of the matter is that we need someone who is not Trump.
Of course Biden is not perfect. Few have hope that he will effectively tackle environmental issues (Harris assured the country in the vice presidential debate that “Joe Biden will not ban fracking”), comprehensively address the military industrial complex or police brutality or significantly loosen immigration restrictions. It is extremely unlikely he will be able to mitigate the conservative makeup of the Supreme and federal district courts, and as a moderate Democrat, he will not even be able to unite the country.
One thing that we should know is that no matter who wins the election, there will still be a deep divide in American politics. Almost 70 million people cast their vote for Trump in this election, and those sentiments aren’t going away overnight, no matter the eventual outcome. There is still so much that needs to be done, and whatever the outcome of this race is, this is just the start.