I need us to have a heart to heart for a few minutes. And not just about the presidential election – what I need us to understand is our political power.
We choose the presidential candidate.
Lots of people vote, but when it comes down to the Democratic primary, who we choose is going to be who wins the Democratic nomination. Period.
Because to win the Democratic nomination, you are going to have to win South Carolina, of course, but you are also going to have to win Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. To win the Democratic nomination, you are going to have to do well in the states where we are the majority of the Democratic voters. You are going to have to win not just in the South, but you are going to have to win in big cities like Detroit, Charlotte, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia – and in those cities we have juice, particularly within the Democratic party.
And that’s why I need us to have a heart to heart about Joe Biden.
Because, guess what? He’s leading in almost all of those places – not because white voters love him, but because Black voters do. And so listen to me – if you genuinely love Joe Biden – if you’ve evaluated his positions and plans, and have decided that he’s the best candidate for you, and for us, then that’s your business, but that’s not the impression that I get when I travel to these states and talk to voters.
Joe Biden is 76 years old. And Black folk were not crazy about Joe Biden when he was in his 30s, or 40s, or 50’s. In fact, when Joe Biden was 65 years old and ran for President in 2008, Black folk weren’t feeling him then. By then, he had been in the Senate for 30 years, and we knew who he was. And he hardly got 1% of the Black vote when he ran for President in 2008 – because we knew him.
But when Barack Obama chose him to be his Vice President, the whole game changed. And even though Joe Biden was not really an advocate for Black folk in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, or even in the 2000s, once Obama chose him as his VP in 2008, he became a bit of a cult hero to Black folk, because Black folk love President Obama, and a friend to Obama, in essence, is a friend to us. No single political figure in the United States has a higher approval rating in our community that President Barack Obama – and I think we view Joe Biden through Barack Obama colored lenses.
But I have a problem with Joe Biden. And I need us to understand that in the Democratic primary, it’s OK for us to challenge politicians on their positions and stances. And that’s why I was actually proud that Kamala Harris challenged Joe Biden in the last presidential debate, not just on his positions of when he was a Senator and was fighting against bussing and school integration, but how he bragged about his friendships with white supremacists like James Eastland and Strom Thurmond, and how much he worked with them.
When Kamala Harris challenged Joe Biden on this in the debate, and called him out, Joe Biden looked her right in the face, and looked the American people right in the face, and lied and said he wasn’t against bussing and school legislation, but he was. No single Democrat in the Senate fought harder against bussing than Joe Biden. And back then, Jesse Jackson, and the NAACP fought hard against Joe Biden on this.
And here’s my beef – instead of simply saying he was wrong, or that he has grown and evolved, he doubles down and either lies about his past positions or defends them. He never apologizes for them. And Kamala Harris was right – his positions were hurtful to us.
He’s done the same thing about the 1994 crime bill. No single person in the entire Senate, Democrat or Republican, fought harder for the 1994 crime bill than Joe Biden. He wrote it. It was literally called the Biden bill for years. And any expert on mass incarceration in this country will tell you that that bill ravaged our communities, but when you challenge Joe on it, he’ll literally lie and say it didn’t cause mass incarceration. It did. It also introduced the modern age of police brutality.
And here’s what I concluded in the last presidential debate, more than anything else, is that we have options. We don’t have to support Joe Biden. We have a lot of options. And to be honest with you, if I was ranking the candidates, on who was best for us, I don’t even think I’d put Joe Biden in my Top 10.
Take a look at Kamala Harris. Take a look at Julian Castro. Take a look at Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. Take a look at Cory Booker.
And understand that we have a lot of options.