If you were trying to rebuild a broken building, would you hire the architect who designed the faulty foundation or go with a designer who has a fresh blueprint? While somewhat oversimplified, that argument is at the core of the current Democratic presidential nominee race, but instead of a master architect, we’re seeking the president elect.
This year’s competition has been fierce. Projected heavyweights like Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke have dropped out of the race, while previous unknowns like Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang are still in the running. Despite the surprises, there’s been one strong front-runner: Joe Biden. While he is the preferred candidate by many elected Democrats, he would be a poor choice for the presidential nominee.
Biden’s popularity among moderate voters is wonderful, but it’s neoliberalism that has contributed to the Democratic party’s electability woes. Since Reagan’s presidency, the United States has been in a conservative coalition, which has caused the Democratic party to lose sight of its progressive history. The two Democratic presidents since Reagan, Obama and Clinton were both ineffective in stopping the rise of economic inequality and didn’t do enough to change the country’s policies on climate change, mass incarceration and U.S. involvement in the Middle East.
It’s unfair to say that the 1994 crime bill — authored by Biden — created mass incarceration, but it was a firm step in facilitating the rise in prison capacity today.
It’s important to note Biden’s base isn’t the future of the Democratic party. When former President Obama won the election in 2008, he did so with support from two-thirds among those younger than 30. Now, Biden has earned the support of 2% of voters under 34. There’s a reason that Biden doesn’t have the support that #YangGang does or that it’s hard to find much merchandise for Biden on college campuses.
Only voters can decide the nominee, but it’s important to align with younger interests, as young voters are the least likely to vote. Having a candidate who inspires them could lead to a new era of political participation after 2016’s poorly participated election.
Last, the party nominee should have a strong character. Not only has Joe Biden had sexual harassment allegations against him, but he was an antagonist in America’s biggest pre-MeToo era sexual assault trial, the Anita Hill hearings. As committee chairman, he oversaw an overaggressive questioning of Dr. Hill’s testimony that asked invasive and demeaning questions. In fact, this trial set the precedent for how the Senate acted during Dr. Ford’s testimony against Justice Kavanaugh in which she was also treated poorly. In this era of condemning sexual assault, why would we want to elect a politician who hassled a victim on national TV?
“We need to earn the right to represent people in this country,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said at a fundraising dinner in Colorado. “The way that we do that as a party is to come home to our FDR roots as a party. We need to come home and make sure that the Democratic Party is the progressive party once more.”
Only voters can decide who represents the Democratic party in 2020, but electing Joe Biden would send a signal of complacency. That is doubly important when it’s likely that most Democrats will unite against Donald Trump regardless of who the nominee is. So the question for Democratic voters is this: Do we rehire an architect who’s helped build our broken systems, or do we take a risk on a leader with a fresh blueprint for future generations?
Adonis Fryer is a freshman studying communications at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Adonis by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.