Joe Biden, the Politician.
A look at the voting record and past statements of a democratic front runner.
I’m not interested in “slandering” any candidates.
I genuinely do not want to come off as though I just don’t like them, and I’m only here to attack them just because I would prefer another candidate. The fact that I have a long list of issues with Joe Biden is well documented and I stand by that position. That being said, I feel it is incredibly important to discuss WHY I adamantly refuse to ever vote for Joe Biden. It has nothing to do with my support for Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, or Tulsi Gabbard.
It has to do with voting records.
I am not interested in the promises of Joe Biden the candidate. I am interested in Joe Biden the politician. I care about who he is as a leader, and what he has done to advocate for average Americans. What matters is how he has positioned himself in the grand scheme of American politics, and that should be the focus of scrutiny for not just Biden, but every single one of our candidates.
But because he is a leading frontrunner, I think it’s fair to say we owe it to ourselves to analyze Joe Biden’s history in politics. Let’s take a look at Biden’s past statements and extensive record on a few of the key issues.
At a 2006 fundraiser for his presidential run, Biden was recorded making some statements that are controversial to say the least. During his speaking event at a South Carolina rotary club, Biden addressed topics related to immigration, drugs, and of course…a border wall.
In the video, Biden is quoted as saying:
“I voted for a 700 mile fence. But let me tell you, we can build a fence 40 stories high, unless we change the dynamics in Mexico, and you will not like this, and punish American employers who knowingly violate the law when in fact they hire illegals. Unless you do those two things, all the rest is window dressing. Now I know I’m not supposed to say that, but there are facts. There are facts. And so everything else we do is in between here. Everything else we do is at the margins. The reason why I believe the fence is needed has not to do with immigration as much as drugs. I’m the guy that wrote the national crime bill…I’m the guy that wrote the law that set up a drug Czar.”
Just 13 years ago, the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency is on camera calling undocumented immigrants ‘illegals’, bragging about how he voted for a border fence, and how he wrote the law that propped up a drug czar. For me, that tells me almost everything I need to know.
Joe Biden’s record supporting the war on drugs is one of the most irredeemable aspects of Biden’s political career. An article in VOX highlights that in 1989, Biden went on TV and said that George H.W. Bush’s plan to further escalate the war on drugs did not go far enough. Biden says the plan:
“…doesn’t include enough police officers to catch the violent thugs, not enough prosecutors to convict them, not enough judges to sentence them, and not enough prison cells to put them away for a long time”
“Tough on Crime” was a bipartisan position at the time, and Joe Biden led the efforts on the democratic side. He was not simply the follower of politics at the time, he was the leader. As the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the height of the war on drugs during the late 80s and early 90s, Joe Biden not only voted for but WROTE many of the laws that went on to become responsible for an increase in prison numbers and incarceration rates, as well as longer sentences for drug offenders. Biden was also responsible for creating the sentencing disparity between crack vs. powder cocaine, which critics argue was largely responsible for the differences in incarceration rates of African Americans as opposed to white Americans.
While I understand Biden was not alone in his efforts, we cannot ignore the fact that the United States has the highest incarceration rate of its citizens in the entire world, and Joe Biden played a critical role in helping to reach that point. A video from C-Span in 1991 also shows Biden saying:
“…I’d like to take some small credit for it myself, and others, the presiding officer, that there’s now a death penalty and we passed it a couple years ago. If you are a major drug dealer, involved in the trafficking of drugs, and murder results in your activities, you go to death.”
Biden also managed to squeeze in a glowing defense of mandatory minimum sentences.
Not only did Biden vote for the war in Iraq, he took to the floor of the senate to defend George Bush’s decision to invade. During a 2002 floor speech in the middle of the debate on whether or not to authorize action, Biden said:
“President Bush did not lash out precipitously at Iraq after 9/11. He did not snub the U.N. or our allies. He did not dismiss new inspection regimes. He did not ignore Congress. At each pivotal moment, he has chosen a course of moderation and deliberation, and I believe he will continue to do so. At least, that is my fervent hope. I wish he would turn down the rhetorical excess in some cases because I think it undercuts the decision he ends up making. But in each case in my view he has made the right rational calm deliberate decision.”
Of course, Biden has been clear that he regrets his decision to vote on the war in Iraq. Although, that doesn’t stop him from getting along well with and heaping praise on Dick Cheney, one of our country’s greatest war criminals who profited off of the war and the destabilization of the entire region.
He hasn’t seemed to learn his lesson either. In response to the U.S. backed coup attempt in Venezuela, Biden said:
“Maduro’s regime is responsible for incredible suffering. The U.S. must stand with the National Assembly & Guaidó in their efforts to restore democracy through legitimate, internationally monitored elections.”
I really don’t think backing a coup attempt is quite the same as encouraging legitimate, internationally monitored elections, but apparently Biden sees it differently.
Biden’s record of backing free trade deals that have been detrimental to U.S. manufacturing is lengthy. According to Bloomberg,
“From his support for the North American Free Trade Agreement as a Delaware senator to his backing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership as Barack Obama’s vice president, Biden played a key role over the last 30 years in advancing a trade agenda that’s now being reassessed by many experts and early proponents as its costs, including job losses, are becoming clearer.”
To be fair, there is a LOT of debate concerning the overall economic effects of NAFTA among economists, and I feel ill suited to fully analyze the topic. But the economic debate matters little to those who lost their jobs as a result of this policy. NAFTA and the support of the TPP are skeletons in Biden’s closet that will be difficult for him to overcome in states like Ohio and Michigan. At a time when economic frustration is such a crucial aspect of the political climate, these positions could make Biden an irreparably flawed general election candidate.
Biden’s record concerning abortion rights is a fairly mixed bag. To his credit, Biden has come out vehemently against the anti-choice laws sweeping the nation, and said congress should act if necessary.
That being said, Biden wasn’t always an avid supporter of a woman’s right to decide. A detailed report by the New York Times addresses the fact that Joe Biden once voted for an amendment that gave states the right to overturn Roe v. Wade. When it came up again the next year however, Biden voted against the amendment.
I firmly believe in an individual’s ability to learn and grow. I give Biden credit for coming to the right side of the issue, but given the severity of the escalation in the war against women’s rights, he would not be my first choice to lead the fight. These times call for someone who has a more consistent, clear record.
None of our candidates are perfect.
No one has a record that comes untainted, but that should not be a reason to overlook the fact that there are some candidates with records that are vastly better than others. We owe it to ourselves to do our due diligence, learn about these candidates and where they stand on issues that matter most to us. These are just a few of the issues that in my opinion, Joe Biden falls short on. Climate change, banking, and healthcare could also be added to this list. We deserve a candidate who we can have confidence in, and personally, Biden is not that candidate.