This year has brought fear and uncertainty, but one constant remains: former Vice President Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Biden had pretty much been Democrats’ pick since ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lost her presidential bid and Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race.
But in late March, Biden’s former aide Tara Reade accused the candidate of sexual assault. Reade said the assault took place in 1993 during Biden’s tenure as a senator from Delaware. I believe Tara Reade. The prospect of voting for Biden nauseates me. Complicating my unwillingness to vote for Biden is the far-right nationalist running against him – President Donald Trump. The president has been accused of sexual assault by at least 25 women, notably by his then-wife Ivana, and most recently by journalist and advice columnist E. Jean Carroll. While the quantity of their alleged crimes tip the playing field, the proposition of having to vote for either man is contemptible.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world where their alleged crimes matter as much as their policies. While I prefer a candidate without an accusation of sexual assault against them, the fact that Biden has garnered the endorsements of prominent leftists like Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal should indicate the importance of defeating Trump. These figures believe in very different policies and ideals than Biden, and yet they were able to come together to see the importance in defeating Trump. I have clear ideological differences with Biden, namely his lack of support for Medicare for All, but his policy proposals on immigration and higher education are far more humane and comprehensive, respectively, than Trump’s. Biden’s newest policies on education appear to actually be taken in part from Sanders’ platform. While many could see this election as a lesser of two evils, we should recognize that Biden is trying to move his campaign in a direction that accounts for various democratic perspectives, which could make it easier to vote for him this November.
Even with the ultimate goal of beating Trump, I can understand why some on the left choose not to endorse Biden. Bhaskar Sunkara, the editor of the socialist magazine Jacobin, instead endorsed Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, while Sanders’ campaign’s press secretary Briahna Joy Gray chose not to endorse Biden. The national branch of Democratic Socialists of America tweeted its non-endorsement, explicitly saying “We are not endorsing” Joe Biden.
Some on the left cannot in good conscience vote for someone accused of rape, while others find Biden to be a moderate Republican. I agree with both of these views, but I still plan to vote for Biden because ousting an incompetent borderline fascist is more important to me than anything else. I admire the ideology and steadfastness of Sunkara, Gray and the DSA, but I do not agree with their decisions to vote for someone other than Biden. After all, his policies range between marginally and significantly more progressive than the current administration’s. Even though I’d prefer large, structural change, for the moment I have to consider incremental progress.
The majority of Biden’s policies on taxes, housing and jobs belong in the last decade, with not much difference between former President Barack Obama’s 2008 platform and Biden’s in many regards. But in spite of his policy shortcomings, Biden represents a clear step in the right direction from Trump.
The endorsements of prominent leftists indicates the importance of defeating Trump in 2020. In spite of the former vice president’s dismissiveness of socialists – in other words, potential supporters – pragmatists like Jayapal know that this election comes down to Biden versus Trump, a view with which I align. As such, I plan to grit my teeth and vote for Biden.
Matthew Zachary, a rising senior majoring in international affairs, is a columnist.
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