For the first time in my young life, I will be voting for a Democrat for President of the United States. This is unusual for me because in my eight years of voting, I’ve typically aligned with the conservative side of the ballot. In my first election in 2012, I voted for Mitt Romney for President. If I were old enough in 2008, I would have voted for John McCain. In 2013 and 2014, I voted for Ted Cruz and John Cornyn for the Senate. Even in 2016 where I cast a protest vote against both of the candidates, I voted for a Republican-majority congress because I believed Hilary Clinton was going to win and that she needed to be held accountable. I won’t be making that mistake again this year as I vote for Joe Biden and all Democrats up and down the ballot.
Several things fuel my change of position, most of which are of consequence from the past few years. But when asked why I’m endorsing Joe Biden, it would be all too easy to simply put up the Will Smith meme and point to all of the ugliness and incompetence of Donald Trump, not to mention reductive and overly-generalized. Besides, I want elections to be about supporting the better candidate, not voting for the lesser evil.
But there are several reasons why Joe Biden appeals to me. For one thing, I don’t think anybody left or right of the political aisle can question his character. Throughout his 40-year career in politics, Joe Biden has a well-documented history of working with Republicans and drafting bipartisan legislation that would later become law. Some progressives see this as a flaw and hypocrisy of the former vice president, with some even half-joking that Biden should have ran in the Republican primary this year.
While there are definitely some establishment issues with Joe, the ability to work with people you disagree with is a quality we’ve been sorely missing from political leadership in the past four years. That’s one of the reasons why President Barack Obama selected Joe as his vice president, and that worked to his benefit when Joe collaborated with House Republicans on spending bills, tax relief, infrastructure, and the crushing debt ceiling in 2011. In 2009, Obama remarked that the best thing about Joe is that “he really forces people to think and defend their positions; to look at things from every angle.” I agree with the former president and will even add that is something all Americans should aspire to do anyway.
But character isn’t the only thing that’s important in this election: policy is. So, what legislation has Biden successfully passed during his 40-year career? One of his crowning achievements is passing the Violence Against Women Act alongside Utah senator Orrin Hatch in 1994, which helped law enforcement respond to rising domestic violence cases in the United States. Since the law was passed in 1994, domestic violence has dropped by 64% until 2010, according to the Department of Justice. Many legal experts cite the VAWA as one of the most effective tools at bringing visibility to the issue, and Joe Biden no doubt had a big hand in seeing that legislation signed into law.
There’s much more Biden was responsible for, such as being one of the first senators to create a global warming task force in 1987, sponsoring the PROTECT Our Children Act in 2008 to help prosecute child predators, and denying former Alabama attorney Jeff Sessions (Yes, that Jeff Sessions) of judgeship. Of course, there are many less flattering moments throughout his career, such as his complicated anti-busing views in 1977, writing the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act in 1994, and voting for the Iraq War in 2002 (not to mention his more humiliating gaffes like claiming to meet the Parkland kids while he was VP or that he was arrested while trying to visit Nelson Mandela). But for the most part, Joe has been honest about his mistakes as much as he has about his successes. Whether that is sincere or political theater I don’t know, but at least he attempts to be apologetic and humble (unlike the incumbent).
That leaves the larger question of what he would do as President? The biggest priority, of course, is filling the Supreme Court vacancy, which Joe Biden would no doubt fill with an equality-centric nominee the late RBG would be proud of (that is, if Republicans don’t shotgun Amy Comey Barrett through confirmation first). He would raise taxes for those making over $400,000 a year, create a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and would rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. That doesn’t even get into a handful of other priorities he would focus on, such as eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding farmworker protections, implementing a voluntary assault weapon buyback program, creating a national police brutality database, and much, much more.
But of all of the things that appeal to me for a Joe Biden presidency, perhaps one of the most important to me is that he would restore the reputation of the White House. Throughout his 40-year career, Biden has maintained decency and empathy to all he interacted with, regardless of whether or not he agreed with them.
When Donald Trump and his wife were diagnosed with COVID-19, Biden did not relish in his diagnosis and prayed for a swift and speedy recovery for the President.
After his daughter was shot and killed during the Parkland shooting in 2018, Fred Guttenberg said his off-camera conversations with Joe helped him re-centralize his life through his grief. Joe was able to relate easily since he also went through losing his wife and daughter from a car accident in 1972.
When George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Biden personally spoke with Floyd’s family and “shared in their woe” as attorney Ben Crump put it. He later delivered kind remarks at Floyd’s funeral.
When he encountered a child with a stuttering issue at one of his rallies, Biden offered words of encouragement and gave him his phone number to personally give advice on how he got through his own stuttering when he was younger.
And in 2015 shortly after his son Beau died of brain cancer, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham called him the nicest person he’s ever met in politics, saying he’s as good a man as God has ever created. “If you can’t admire Joe Biden as a person, you’ve got a problem,” Graham said to HuffPost.
Compare that to the egregiousness, selfishness, and egotism of Donald Trump, who is so harsh, self-absorbed, and abrasive that he makes sandpaper feel more comfortable. I can’t go over all of his failings as President in this piece alone. If I attempted to, it would take over the rest of the content on my website twice over.
What I will say is that when the President wasn’t busy attacking liberals, journalists, women, immigrants, African-Americans, Muslims, the disabled, veterans, the LGBT community, and Never-Trump Republicans on Twitter, Trump has failed spectacularly at nearly every Presidential test he’s been given. Sure, Biden may lack ambition or perspective on a handful of issues, but Trump has consistently proven himself to be emphatically worse, sometimes to an almost comedic standard.
While Biden witnessed over two million deportations during Obama’s tenure, Trump has slashed refugee acceptance to an all-time low, separated thousands of immigrant families, denied children basic necessities like soap and toothpaste, put the residency status of over 800,000 Dreamers at risk, and saw the deaths of seven immigrant children while in border patrol custody.
While over 12,470 people died during the Obama administration’s response to the Swine Flu, Ebola, and Zika outbreaks, over 200,000 people have died from the Trump administration’s response to COVID-19, with hundreds more dying daily.
And while Trump at one point oversaw some of the lowest unemployment numbers and largest job growth our nation has ever seen, this year alone has since wiped out any economic gains we’ve made in the last three years.
Do we even need to go over the exhaustive list of Trump’s scandals? He’s so corrupt that he has Richard Nixon’s jaw dropping from his grave (hey, at least he had the good sense to resign once impeachment proceedings were filed against him).
Say what you will about Joe Biden — and there is plenty to say — at least he can fulfill the basic duties of respecting veterans and comforting Gold Star families. Trump can’t even address Russia on the bounties on U.S. soldier’s heads.
Simply put, there’s no point over the past four years where Trump has risen, nay, even attempted to reach, a tenth of the magnanimous expectations of the White House. Not once.
Look guys, it’s been an exhaustive four years — more exhausting than any other President I’ve experienced in my lifetime, and I’ve lived through three prior to Trump. And we are once again edging toward this unfortunate “lesser-evil” scenario that Trump and Hillary were caught up in 2016.
But not only do I believe Joe Biden is the lesser evil by a clear mile in this election — I believe he’s also the greater good. His entire career demonstrates the decency, civility, and respect that the White House deserves. He doesn’t demonize his opponents the same way Trump or Hillary does, and unlike both predecessors, he’s interested in working with colleagues of all different faiths, beliefs, and political affiliations.
That’s what we need in a President right now during the divisive time that we’re in. Not a President for just Democrats or Republicans — a President for America.
– David Dunn