My Reluctant Case for Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden addresses multinational troops at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, Thursday, May 21, 2009. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann

What this new Post-Ipsos poll of African Americans voters has done is confirm that my Aunt Gloria has her finger on the pulse of black America. At the family barbecue, I asked her why she thought Biden was the person to take on Trump. Her answer left me slack-jawed and remains the best explanation for Biden’s continued strength. “The way the system is set up now, there is so much racism that it’s going to have to be an old white person to go after an old white person,” Aunt Gloria said. “Old-school against old-school.”

Jonathan Capehart writing for The Washington Post

I don’t want to vote for another man.

I have voted for a lot of men, don’t get me wrong. But I’ve also been fortunate enough to live in places where I was afforded the opportunity to joyfully vote for women who reflect my values. Women who were forces of nature. Louise Slaughter in New York. Dianne Feinstein in California. Eleanor Holmes Norton in DC. Barbara Mikulski in Maryland. Hillary Clinton for President.

So, no I don’t want to vote for more men if I don’t have to. I have seen what women can do in politics and I support the leadership of women.

But I’m probably going to vote for Joe Biden in the Democratic primary.

My first choice in this race was Kirsten Gillibrand because of her record of centering women. Tied for second for me were Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. Gillibrand was the candidate of my heart, Warren speaks to my mind, Kamala to my my spirit. I would have had a hell of a choice to make if all three had made it to the Maryland primary in April. As it stands now, Warren is the last of my top three, the only woman I could feasibly support in this race (Gabbard is not my cup of tea.)

Then there’s Joe Biden. In a race with no women – no people who look and sound like me – Joe Biden would be not just a good option but really a great option. He has a long record, imperfect, yes, but responsive to the times. I believe it is not the job of a Senator to tell the people their will, but to serve the will of the people. He has done that reflecting the moment of history he was in and using the best information he had at hand.

For all his errors along the way, I have never doubted his intentions. He is smart, he is experienced, and he is also willing to learn. Not only that, he is liked and respected by leaders at home and abroad.

But that’s not why I am (probably) going to vote for him. I am going to vote for him because I agree with Jonathan Capehart’s Aunt Gloria quoted above. The system is built for white men and the only way to win inside the system we have is to vote for the best white man for the job.

That’s Joe Biden. It just is.

As Capehart reveals in his article from this weekend, the polling about what African American voters think about this primary is fairly unambiguous. As a voting bloc, they are favoring Joe Biden. It’s a cold and pragmatic choice, perhaps, but it also may be a clear-eyed and intelligent choice. It is a choice that white feminists should consider making out of deference to the political instincts of black voters. After all, 95% of Black women voted for Hillary Clinton. 53% of white women voted for Trump. If I’m choosing teams here, I know who I think has better judgement.

As I said earlier, Biden’s mistakes are mistakes only with the benefit of hindsight. The Iraq War vote did not equal consent for all the mistakes the Bush administration made once they were given authorization to act. The Crime Bill from the 90s reflected the thinking of the day. Anita Hill…well, she herself says she would vote for Biden if he were the nominee.

As for whether Biden can be the Pied Piper we long for in politics, remember watching Biden at the convention in 2016 and getting chills. I felt a twinge of regret that he wasn’t getting a day in the sun.

My husband was at the convention that night, seated behind the stage and enough above it that he could see the teleprompter. When I told him how impressed I was with Biden he told me there were long sections of that speech where the prompter didn’t scroll; it was Biden talking from the heart. And what a heart he has.

So I will probably vote for Joe Biden in the primary. I will regret deeply one more lost opportunity to put a woman in the Oval Office but I will not regret putting Joe Biden there.

Anyway, here is his 2016 convention speech. At minute 13:20 he talks about the state of the world and hold the stadium in his hands. It’s worth a listen.

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