Even before he announced he was running for president, Joseph Biden was the frontrunner to receive the Democratic National Convention’s nomination for president. If he is successful in this effort that will do away with many worries about the 2020 election. However, only the formerly worried Republicans will be correct to be relieved. Biden’s career and current positions not only put him out of step with the American left wing, but with America in general in ways that will ensure the White House and many offices down ballot remain under Republican control. Moving the party to the left or moving to the center are both tough pills to swallow for the voters and leadership, but choosing Biden is a cyanide tablet.
SEE ALSO: 10 Ways Donald Trump Has Changed Politics Forever
When Biden voted on October 2, 2002 in favor of the resolution to invade Iraq, no one could have known it was committing the US to a military conflict that would stretch out over seventeen years so far and would leave more than four thousand American soldiers and by some estimates more than a million Iraqi civilians dead. What is known is that his claim of immediately regretting his vote in favor of the resolution does not match his public statements around that time at all. In an interview with CNN on March 19, 2003, he said that everyone in congress should be resolute in their support of the president and the troops, which he considered a single entity. As Politifact reported, nine months after his vote he said “I would vote that way again today.”
Whatever your opinion on the cost benefit of the War in Iraq, a 2019 Pew Research Poll found that 62% of civilians felt the war was not worth fighting. The veterans were actually slightly more opposed to it, with 64% feeling it was a mistake. President Trump certainly wasn’t timid in attacking the decision on the campaign trail, calling it the “worst mistake in US history” and calling out Hillary Clinton for also voting in favor of it. It could be Biden’s Achilles heel, except said heel would be the size of Biden’s entire body.
Much has been made of Biden writing the 1994 crime bill that was a major factor in American mass incarceration through providing grant money to states that had prisoners serve out more of their sentences. Additionally there was his hardline opposition to desegregation bussing, as fellow candidate Kamala Harris pointed out at length. Neither of those were anywhere near as damning as actions he took during the crack epidemic of the 1980s.
In 1986, Biden crafted the Anti-Drug Abuse Act which passed with bipartisan approval. The bill was apparently insufficiently reviewed as many were surprised that it included a provision that powder cocaine carried less of a sentence than crack cocaine, and since crack was m uch more prevalent in poor African American communities that led to disproportionate sentences. It was so harmful that in 2002 Biden denounced his own bill and in 2019 his campaign released a plan to belatedly undo some of the stipulations of the Act. As candidate Cory Booker explained during a debate, there are many black communities that are vividly aware of what his bill inflicted on them.
Today gay marriages enjoy sufficient mainstream support that a 2019 Gallup poll said roughly 63% of Americans are fine with them being legal, including 79% of Democrat and 44% of Republican party members. Yet Biden has a very glaring blemish on his voting record regarding LGBT marriage rights. He stood by the problematic vote for more than a decade.
On September 21, 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act which had been sponsored by Republican representative Bob Barr went into effect. It banned all same-sex marriage partners from receiving federal benefits. Joe Biden voted for it. Granted, at the time, banning same-sex marriage was popular enough the bill passed the House and the Senate with veto-proof majorities. Still, considering the extent to which his campaign is depending on good will towards the Obama Administration for such measures as the federal legalization of gay marriage, this significantly works against his claims of being a LGBT ally.
The beginning of several Democratic presidential campaigns in 2019 were marked by large crowds. Kamala Harris had roughly 30,000 at her first rally in Oakland, California. Bernie Sanders had 13,000 at a Brooklyn rally in winter weather. Joe Biden’s largest rally was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and it numbered about 6,000. Maximum. Crowds of grassroots supporters are the lifeblood of any major campaign.
By May 2019 it was reported that Biden switched from addressing relatively small public crowds to primarily attending big donor fundraising events in what was dubbed a “campaign of limited exposure.” Even before that, in a four week period he only held eleven events, about as many as former candidate Kristen Gillibrand held over a weekend. Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign had a similar problem.
1991 feels like a lifetime ago. Still it was only in March 2019 that Biden took steps to apologize for something he did at the time. Biden oversaw the hearings for the appointment of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, an event that is largely remembered today for the accusations of sexual harassment against Thomas by Anita Hill. Joseph Biden denied three witnesses corroborating Hill’s testimony time to testify. He was noted for being particularly harsh with Hill, which no doubt helped the extremely conservative judge onto the Supreme Court. Consequently when Biden’s campaign reached out to her when he began his campaign for the presidency, Hill did not accept his apology.
If you’re unfamiliar with Clarence Thomas’s rulings and don’t understand why that would be such a big deal for voters today, a single ruling paints a grim picture. For the 2013 case of Shelby County V Holder, the court ruled in a 5-to-4 decision that states and local offices did not need federal approval for changes in voting practices. That meant many districts cut down early voting days, closed hundreds of polling places, and purged many people from voting rolls, a disproportionate number of them minorities. In short, Biden was a significant factor in taking functional voting rights away from countless black people throughout the South. That’s not something those voters are any more likely to forget than they forgot Hillary Clinton’s use of the word “superpredator.”
Several of the Democratic candidates for president such as Andrew Yang, Elizabeth Warren, and most successfully Bernie Sanders have relied exclusively on small dollar donors for the primary. Biden’s campaign is having none of that, relying on pacs and wealthy donors for much of its funding. A single political action committee (PAC) he formed in 2017 called American Possibilities donated $30,000, including $5,000 from a PAC affiliated with the medical devices company Masimo. Lawyers from the firm Morgan & Morgan alone gave Biden’s campaign $398,000.
That’s not to say that taking donations from megadonors is by any means automatically a losing strategy. For example, Trump took $20 million from Sheldon Adelson in 2016. Still, there have been uncomfortable incidents. On September 4, 2019 when he was asked by an audience member how Biden’s claims of environmental consciousness could be trusted considering that the next day Biden was going to a fundraiser co-hosted by a fossil fuel executive, Western LNG founder Andrew Goldman. Biden’s inaccurately responded with a denial that Goldman was a fossil fuel executive. It’s indicative that his campaign fundraising will create a lot of distrust among the environmentally conscious among other groups.
Crafted during President George Bush’s term, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993. Until roughly 2007, Hillary Clinton was a vocal supporter of the bill her husband signed into law. Then she began attacking it for such things as “failing to live up to its promises.” Additionally, there was a time in 2012 that she referred to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as the “gold standard” of trade agreements. By 2016, she had changed her position on the gold standard of agreements and promised to renegotiate it. The free trade aspects of both agreements have been devastating to manufacturing employment in America’s Rust Belt, with the loss of an estimated 840,000 jobs in that sector. Studies found that TPP threatened to cut wages for ninety percent of workers and devastate small farms. Manufacturing and farming are major employers in America’s swing states. Clinton’s association with them were not good for her campaigns for the Democratic nomination. She lost states such as Michigan and Wisconsin to Bernie Sanders in the primary and Donald Trump in the general election.
Both of these trade agreements also threaten Biden’s record. He voted in favor of NAFTA in 1993 and was a co-writer of the TPP, vocally backing it as Obama vice president. In 2019 Biden changed his tune significantly about TPP and the need to renegotiate it, but those decades of promoting free trade agreements will not be forgotten and are good fodder to campaign against him.
Biden received $200,000 to deliver a speech to the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan three weeks before the 2018 midterm elections. His speech included high praise for vulnerable Republican candidate Fred Upton. The GOP subsequently heavily used transcripts of Biden’s praise in advertisements throughout the district. Upton won by a 4.5 point victory.
That may sound fine to a Republican voter, but to a Democrat, it brings to mind just how uncertain the midterm was. Reportedly it was a very real possibility Upton’s victory would have contributed to the Republican party retaining control of the House of Representatives in 2018. Now some others might consider that a matter of Biden putting his honest opinion of Upton over partisan politics. But consider this: Biden issued an advertisement for his campaign that he considered attempts to “tear it down” or “replace and start over” Obamacare to be “personal.” But the thing about that is that Fred Upton voted to repeal Obamacare.
In 2019, a federal budget released by the Trump administration caused a considerable uproar because despite the president’s consistent insistence during the 2016 campaign that he would not cut or even alter Medicare or Social Security, it contained cuts to both highly popular programs. Considering that Medicare is extremely popular among its sixty million enrollees, this position on the campaign trail was politically sound.
It is also the opposite of the position that Biden has expressed. Biden has called for cuts to social security benefits in three distinct and significant ways. In 2007 he made raising minimum retirement age a factor in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. In 2010 he helped negotiate an extension of Bush-era payroll tax cuts that took $112 billion from the program. In 2018 he called for lowering the amount of income a recipient of the benefits could earn before they lost their social security and medicare benefits, also known as “means testing.” Just hearing that Biden plans on cutting back people’s social security will be enough to worry many among those sixty million enrollees.
There is another prominent figure in American politics that is vocal in his insistence that America needs to cut Medicare and Social Security, even though he heavily pushed for the massive 2017 tax cut: Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell is so unpopular as a political figure that as of February 2019 he had a 33% approval rating in Kentucky. Now, take his deeply unpopular views, and tell the public that with Biden in office, McConnell is closer than he has been in years to pushing through his cuts to massively popular programs. It may be the most politically suicidal form of reaching across the aisle the Democratic Party could do.
In recent weeks the media has been dominated by reports that President Trump pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, allegedly in exchange for military aid. While much of the coverage has naturally focused on the potential for this action to lead to Trump’s impeachment. It has also brought unprecedented attention to Hunter Biden’s highly dubious, as much as $50,000 a month position on the board for the Ukranian energy company Burisma since April 2014 despite having no experience in that field. Not to mention that Biden pressured the firing of Ukraine’s Prosecutor Viktor Shokinl while the company was under investigation, an investigation which has since been reopened. It was only one example of several of the Biden family possibly using Joseph Biden’s political connections for legally questionable financial gain.
For example, in November 2010 Joseph’s brother James Biden was hired as the executive vice president for the real estate firm HillStone International. In June 2011, HillStone landed a $1.5 billion contract to build homes in Iraq while Joseph Biden was leading the Obama administration’s Iraq policy. For another example involving Hunter Biden, in 2013 he travelled with his father to China to meet with President Xi Jingping, and by 2019 he had joined the board of Bohai Harvest RST, a firm which developed facial recognition software for the Chinese government. Hunter announced he would step down from that board on October 13, 2019.
In the end, this shows that Joseph Biden’s family is willing to use their connections to him for questionable investments. These conflicts of interest will likely muddle the case for Trump’s impeachment until it loses popular support. If Biden is the Democratic nominee for the 2020 campaign these issues could come back to haunt him in a particularly debilitating way.
About The Author: Dustin Koski cowrote Not Meant to Know, a novel about rogue exorcists.