US-NEWS-DEMOCRATS-2020-POLL-1-MI

Joe Biden makes for a weak candidate against Donald Trump.

Joe Biden is currently the front runner in the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination — a fact that should be troubling to anyone invested in defeating Donald Trump. 

Biden is a poor choice for the nomination on multiple levels; as a politician, his policies have been misguided and harmful; as a debater, Biden struggles to effectively articulate his ideas; and as a person, Biden has proven himself to be unsympathetic to younger Americans. For these reasons, it’s crucial that Biden doesn’t win the presidential nomination. 

Biden’s political career is riddled with actions that should disqualify him from the 2020 race. One of Biden's first major actions in the Senate was to oppose desegregation busing, a move that allied him with racist elements of the political establishment. During the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Biden limited the testimony of Anita Hill, a former subordinate of Thomas who was sexually harassed by him. Biden’s decision to not let other witnesses testify on behalf of Hill ultimately helped Thomas secure his Supreme Court seat. In addition, among Biden’s worst mistakes was pushing the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement act (VCCLEA), also known as the Biden crime bill. The VCCLEA has contributed to escalating a failed drug war and increasing mass incarceration, effects that continue to ruin countless lives.

It seems that Joe Biden cannot attend an event without embarrassingly fumbling his words, offending people or just outright lying. Recently, Biden claimed that he had objected to the Iraq war from its start. This directly contradicts numerous public endorsements for the war and the fact that he voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq, which started the war. In a likely Freudian slip, Biden stated that “poor kids are just as bright and talented as white kids.” In addition to these incidents, Biden has confused the dates and details of numerous events. The potential nominee inexplicably told voters to “go to Joe 30330” during a debate, said he was happy to be in Vermont when he was in fact in New Hampshire and even referred to Bernie Sanders as “the president.” Biden’s near constant verbal confusion begs the question as to whether he’s truly capable of debating Donald Trump. Trump is skilled at deriding his political adversaries, as evidenced by the 2016 presidential debates. It’s easy to imagine Trump exploiting Biden’s weaknesses during a debate only to receive a jumbled and ineffective retort from the former vice president.

A recent Pew poll found that only 7% of voters aged 18-49 support Joe Biden as their top choice, a wide margin from Bernie Sanders’ 21%. It’s hardly difficult to understand why younger voters are turned off by Biden when he openly denounces millennials, saying, “The younger generation now tells me how tough things are. Give me a break. I have no empathy for it. Give me a break.”

While Biden is certainly unpopular among younger voters, his overall polling numbers put him first in the race. Much of Biden’s support can ultimately be tied to two ideas. The first is a nostalgia for the Obama administration. Democrats largely felt satisfied under Obama and yearn for the Pre-Trump era, associating Biden with political normalcy. The other is an opposition to the ascendent left wing policies of Sanders and Warren. Some voters feel Biden is the safe ticket in 2020 and that the so-called extreme proposals like Medicare for all will cost Democrats the election, despite numerous polls showing broad support for single payer healthcare.

Paradoxically, this brand of centrist liberal ideology has time and again cost Democrats elections despite being proclaimed as the most pragmatic approach to winning over conservatives. The truth is that voters respond far more to bold political proposals that encompass the struggles of everyday people than the standard line from the Democratic party. That’s why Bernie Sanders consistently tops the polls as the most popular US politician.

With six months until the Iowa Caucuses, America still has time to consider who should lead the Democratic party in the 2020 election. The stakes are incredibly high — four more years of Trump could severely endanger America and the world. To win the election, the Democrats need a candidate with a proven record and a progressive vision that will inspire voters. Biden isn’t that candidate.

CORRECTION (9/17 at 10:48 a.m.): 7% of voters aged 18-49 support Joe Biden as their top choice. A previous version of this article said that only 7% of voters aged 18-49 supported Joe Biden at all.

William Meara is a senior biotechnology major. Contact William at mearawr@dukes.jmu.edu.