My title is a pre-emptive defense against the avalanche of Democrats who continue to deny the reality that a man who has never eclipsed 5% support in any presidential race before this one is a self-evidently good candidate. He’s not. Any time you bring up Joe Biden’s pro-school segregationist past on the internet, you are inundated with a swarm of reply guys and gals telling you how the times were different and therefore, none of it counts now.
I’m sorry, but this quote was stupid and flippantly dismissive of the systemic struggles black Americans face then and it’s even more stupid and flippant now. From Ryan Grim’s upcoming book, We’ve Got People:
In 1973, during a speech at the Club City in Cleveland, Biden told an audience that the Nixon-era resurgence of Republicans in the South was a good thing. “I think the two-party system,” he said, “although my Democratic colleagues won’t like me saying this, is good for the South and good for the Negro, good for the black in the South.
Given that the Nixon-era resurgence of Republicans in the South ultimately led to President Donald J. Trump, I don’t think I need to go in to detail about how Republican rule in the South has been bad for black Americans. All you really need to know to prove that someone like Joe Biden should have been extremely aware of how not-good Republican rule was for “the black in the South” in 1973 is that the man with the longest filibuster in Congressional history (against the 1957 Civil Rights Act), Strom Thurmond, switched parties from the Democrats to the Republicans in 1964, the same year the landmark Civil Rights Act was passed. And before you come at me with how there is more nuance to this than just your typical racist American politics, read this Biden quote to a Delaware weekly newspaper in 1975:
“I do not buy the concept, popular in the ‘60s, which said, ‘We have suppressed the black man for 300 years and the white man is now far ahead in the race for everything our society offers. In order to even the score, we must now give the black man a head start, or even hold the white man back, to even the race.’ I don’t buy that. I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather. I feel responsible for what the situation is today, for the sins of my own generation. And I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago.”
Also in 1973, Biden said something startlingly homophobic to a gay activist, as reported by a now-defunct Delaware newspaper, the Morning News:
Biden also agreed to answer by mail a series of questions of U.S. Civil Service and military job discrimination which Robert Vane, a gay activist, presented him. Vane, a North Star resident, startled Biden with his sudden inquiries and sent at least three persons storming from the room when he identified his cause.
“My gut reaction,” Biden told Vane, “is that they (homosexuals) are security risks but I must admit I haven’t given this much thought … I’ll be darned!”
Joe Biden also called busing kids to different schools in order to desegregate schools an “asinine concept” in this interview, and this alliance against school integration with Republicans is a big reason why Strom Thurmond asked Joe Biden to speak at his funeral. A cursory study of late 20th century history proves that Joe Biden has made a lot of hay out of exploiting America’s racist politics.
“But that was the 1970s! People change!”
OK, fine. Let’s take a trip to 1993 where Biden was arguing on behalf of the infamous 1994 Crime Bill that he still owns to this day. It was a bill that helped perpetuate our ongoing problem with mass incarceration, and disproportionately affected communities of color. Per Uncle Joe:
”We must make the streets safer. I don’t care why someone is a malefactor in society. I don’t care why someone is anti-social. I don’t care why they’ve become a sociopath. We have an obligation to cordon them off from the rest of society.”
This is positively Trumpian demonization. He dehumanizes the “other”—to such a degree that he openly flaunts how little he cares how they could transition from human to the subhuman “anti-social” form they are allegedly taking.
Joe Biden has not changed. Joe Biden does not believe he needs to change, and like Trump, he simply wants to return to an idyllic past that never existed. When confronted with this stubborn thing called reality, the former Vice President simply tries to change the conversation around him, as when he preposterously asserted that his 1994 Crime Bill had nothing to do with mass incarceration when the data proves that it continued the rapid pace of mass incarceration which began in the late 1970s.
Biden is so dedicated to not changing from the political persona he has always embodied that just a few months after he filmed an “apology” where he did not actually apologize for his past creepy behavior around women, he did and said this to a 10 YEAR OLD GIRL at an American Federation of Teachers town hall. Per The Washington Post’s national political reporter, Felicia Sonmez:
Biden tells a 10-year-old girl, “I’ll bet you’re as bright as you are good-looking.” He takes her over to the assembled reporters, then stands behind her and puts his hands on her shoulders while he’s talking.
Joe Biden is a bad candidate with bad ideas, bad instincts, bad donors and a bad legislative past. The fact that the Democratic Party has currently anointed Biden as its front-runner tells you all you need to know about how this political party lost in 2016 to a human-Dorito hybrid with a six-year old’s understanding of the world. Democrats can do better than Joe Biden—the bigger question is whether we want to.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.