Why is Joe Biden Running?

What exactly does his candidacy have to offer?

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Photo via Joe Biden on Instagram

Well we’re almost a couple months in to former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign for the democratic nomination, and it’s been an interesting couple months indeed. Since before he even made the announcement, those of us on the left of the spectrum within the party have been saying that Joe Biden would be his own worst enemy, hurting his chances just by opening his mouth. Of course, he has proven this to be true in the most painstaking fashion, whether it be his ardent defense of the 1994 crime bill, bragging about compromising with segregationists, or when he made sure to tell donors that under his presidency, nothing would fundamentally change. As harsh as it may sound, his self sabotage would be comical if it wasn’t so cringeworthy and disturbing.

But putting all jokes or nostalgia for the Obama days aside, the democratic base needs to start asking some critical questions, the most important and obvious of which would be: why is Joe Biden even running?

Something that corporatist, centrist candidates like Joe Biden or even Hickenlooper and Delaney refuse to acknowledge is that in order to win, you have to give voters something to vote for, not against. 2016 showed us in no uncertain terms that just painting Trump as a boogyman does not cut it. Of course it should go without saying that we don’t need to replace a narcissist with another narcissist. So again, I have to ask why Mr. Biden is even seeking the nomination. Is it really too much to ask that when going through the process of electing a public servant, we get to know what issues really matter to them? The American people deserve to know what sets a candidate apart from the rest, but Joe Biden, with his “campaign of limited exposure” has unfortunately made it blatantly obvious that he does not see it that way.

Putting at least one authentic policy proposal at the center of a campaign is nothing unusual. Rather, it should be expected, and some of our candidates have fortunately treated it that way. Bernie Sanders has made medicare for all the center of his campaign platform. Elizabeth Warren has made taking on the big banks and student debt the center of hers. Tulsi Gabbard has made foreign policy and noninterventionism her campaign strongpoint. Jay Inslee has made tackling climate change the center of his. So where is our frontrunner? If we were to hypothetically elect Joe Biden as the next president of the United States, what can we count on him to focus on? We still have not found out. So if he isn’t prepared to tell us, then-once again-why is he running?

He didn’t have to put himself through this, or subject himself to the microscope he finds himself under. I don’t remember at any point during the Obama years that people were vetting Joe Biden in the way they are now. If he had made the decision not to run, then I have a feeling he could have retained his status as America’s Uncle Joe.

But here we are, with more closets full of skeletons just waiting to be opened. Given the context of his record, it’s almost painfully obvious how out of touch Mr. Biden is with the current political climate. Even his base is having trouble trying to defend his record and past statements, which is no surprise considering I’ve heard some argue that it’s even further to the right in some instances than the Tories in England. Why is he subjecting himself to this, just to run for a position for which if won, he promises no fundamental change?

Mr. Biden has ran for the nomination not once, but twice before over the course of his decades long career in national politics. And that’s fine. Clearly, having the highest office in the land is something that matters to him, and I’m not going to be opposed to someone having political ambition. All I ask is that we understand what’s at the heart of that ambition. We not only deserve, but have the right to know the motives and intentions of someone who wants to be the highest public servant. That isn’t too much to ask.

The more Joe Biden withdraws and sinks in to his “campaign of limited exposure”, the more convinced I am of America’s own undoing. This is really what we have resorted ourselves to. We’ve unfortunately reached a point in which we’re so desensitized to the corruption, that candidates like Joe Biden actually seem appealing. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We have the right to demand better, and the least a candidate could do is give us a real reason why they’re running.

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Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at LaurenMartinchek@gmail.com or Twitter @xlauren_mx

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