HESS: Joe Biden, you need to calm down

‘Uncle Joe’ is expecting the same love and grace he received as vice president, but he cannot seem to grasp that the culture of America has changed

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Joe Biden is a figure of the past and he does not hold the vision nor the values that today’s party is looking for in a presidential candidate. 

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

As the current frontrunner in the Democratic primary, former Vice President Joe Biden continues to claim that his experience makes him the most qualified for the job, but it is precisely his experience and past that should disqualify him from the race. At every campaign stop, he seems to alienate himself from voters more and more. Biden is trying to appeal to a Democratic Party that he thinks he represents well, but the party has changed drastically, even since his last two failed presidential runs in 1988 and 2008. Biden is a figure of the past and he does not hold the vision nor the values that today’s party is looking for in a presidential candidate. 

One of Biden’s most recent public embarrassments was at a fundraiser in Maryland when he cited two infamous segregationist senators as examples of colleagues with whom he held civil and friendly relationships. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), another candidate in the race, has called on Biden to apologize for his comments. Instead of realizing that what he said is inexcusable, Biden’s response was that “Cory should apologize. He knows better.” While being able to look past a difference of opinion when working with someone may be noble, touting the names of infamous Dixiecrats who were martyrs for racial segregation is not something a presidential candidate should do during a typical campaign stop in 2019. Biden’s rocky history with race does not end here. During the first Democratic debates in June, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-C.A.) brought up Biden’s past position of not supporting equal busing for students during the civil rights era. Instead of admitting that his position on the issue was a mistake and apologizing, Biden defended his position by stating that he did not believe the Department of Education should have the power to force busing regulations on school districts. Biden defended his past stance that allowed discriminatory busing practices to persist in the United States. This is the problem Biden keeps facing — he is not an up-to-date Democrat, and it is too late to play catch up.

Another example of Biden’s outdated behavior shined through when he stated that he supports the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for almost all abortions. Even though he has held this position for decades, he suddenly had a change of heart after intense backlash from his own party and decided to reverse his stance by denouncing the Hyde Amendment. Although changing one's views after careful reconsideration can certainly be a good thing, Biden’s most recent flip-flop is nothing more than political recovery. Having to explain himself every other week for a “misunderstood” policy stance is showing Biden’s weakness — Biden picks and chooses his stances based on the feedback he receives. Biden is not someone people can believe in but rather someone people might be able to deal with. Biden just wants to ride on the “Yes We Can” wave of former President Barack Obama, but it is not his to claim

In 2009, Biden became the funny vice president that America saw as Obama’s best friend. This caused him to become immensely popular among Democrats, allowing Americans to not really question Biden’s personal beliefs and to forget about his political past. A past that even includes a racist comment made when Biden was talking about then Senator Obama in 2007. Biden said, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” While this comment was ignored throughout the Obama years, it is just another example of Biden taking a side or changing where he stands. It is hard to understand where Biden truly is on the issues and what his character really looks like. Now that Biden is running for president, he is having to confront America without the help of his Uncle Joe fanfare that he carried for eight years. 

Around the start of his campaign, Biden called Anita Hill to apologize for his role in presiding over her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 1991 confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Anita Hill came forth as a survivor, who was ready to tell her story in order to stop a sexual predator from becoming a Supreme Court justice. Instead of ensuring a fair testimony, Biden allowed a committee entirely composed of males to question Hill’s credibility and use sexist stereotypes against her. While Biden may not have been shouting out bigoted rants like his colleagues, his silence was just as loud. Biden’s record with women is just as shaky as this particular case. Biden has several allegations of sexual harassment against him, and instead of apologizing or trying to prove his innocence, he instead jokes about it on the campaign trail. For a candidate trying to run as a potential moral foil to President Donald Trump, he is already falling short. America does not need or want a creepy “Uncle Joe” in the White House.

Biden has never been an elected official who brings bold, new ideas to the table. He is a Democrat who has followed his party since 1973. While his dedication to his party may be noble, an insider like Biden brings nothing exciting to the table, giving voters who voted for Trump in 2016 little incentive to switch their vote this time around — Biden is a bland, run-of-the-mill Democrat who has too much baggage to become the Democratic nominee.

This does not mean Biden has done no good for our nation. The Violence Against Women Act and the recent increases in funding for cancer research are both due largely in credit to him. But in the end, he is still a Democratic insider, and an insider cannot beat an outsider like Trump. The Democratic Party is the more progressive than it has ever been before and it needs a new face with new ideas — it could be Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mayor Pete Buttigieg or Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) — but it should not be a 40-year old-insider. Biden is a figure who cannot survive in both a Trump-era and a post-#MeToo period. If all Democrats held Biden to the same moral standard as Trump, he would not be the frontrunner in this already contentious primary. Biden is a candidate of yesterday, and if he could not win in 1988 or 2008, there is no way he can win it all in 2020.

Hunter Hess is an Opinion Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at opinion@cavalierdaily.com. 

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