Biden clenched his victory last Saturday, and I, alongside many other Americans, rejoiced in the news. As my election anxiety melted away, I was reminded by a friend of an important tenet of civic responsibility.
The rallying cry for the progressive youth this election was “Settle for Biden.”
Prior to the Iowa caucus, Senator Bernie Sanders was the most favorable candidate among voters aged 18-49, being the preferable candidate for 54 percent of the 18- to 34-year-olds polled and 30 percent of 35- to 49-year-olds, according to a national poll by Quinnipiac University. The only age demographic in which Biden was the clearly preferred candidate was the 65+ category, where he was the preferred candidate for 27 percent of voters.
For me, like many other young voters, Biden was never the person I wanted in office. In fact, out of all the candidates present at the democratic presidential debates, Joe Biden was second-to-last to Mike Bloomberg, as far as my list of preferences is concerned.
When Biden initially ran as Obama’s running mate in 2008, he was adamant that marriage was a union between a man and a woman. In 1996, he voted in favor of the “Defense of Marriage Act,” which blocked recognition of same-sex marriages at the federal level. In 1994, he also voted to cut off funding to schools that taught sex education for same-sex individuals. It was only in 2012 that his position on same-sex marriage changed.
Bernie, on the other hand, has supported same-sex marriage as early as 1983, when he signed a Gay Pride Day proclamation as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont.
And let’s not forget Joe Biden’s problematic past with racial issues. In the democratic debate, Kamala Harris, Biden’s Vice President-elect, called him out for working with and speaking highly of former senators James Eastland and Herman Talmadge, two segregationists. Biden’s 1994 crime bill also contributed to the disproportionate incarceration of Black individuals, reinforcing the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 which advocated for different sentence lengths for possession of “crack” and “coke.”
Biden’s current policy on police brutality isn’t ideal for some leftists, either. He isn’t advocating for defunding the police in any capacity, an idea that many Black Lives Matter protesters have been pushing for.
Harris also has a troubling past with incarceration and criminal justice issues. The self-proclaimed “Top Cop” is responsible for the placement of female transgender inmates in an all-male prison and a truancy program that, again, led to disproportionate imprisonment of Black individuals. While she has been a proponent for criminal justice reform, she has been a key player in a system that continues to target minorities at higher rates than their white counterparts.
At the end of the day, I don’t blame anyone for celebrating Joe Biden’s win. Voting Trump out is an incredible victory for the American people. However, the Biden administration is not spotless either, and it is our civic duty as Americans to hold them accountable for their shortcomings, past and present.