The Lifeboat Dilemma
Like the Titanic, the U.S. ship “Democracy” has struck several proverbial icebergs and is going down. The madman at the helm who drove us into these multiple disasters is insisting that the band continue to play a merry tune as the water rises above the gunnels. The Democratic Party establishment has launched an unimpressive life raft in the form of former Vice President Joe Biden and insists that, for the sake of our own survival, people of color and the poor must jump aboard. There are many of us who eye this questionable escape route with suspicion. There are even some who realize that the good ship Democracy is going down but are loathe to get aboard the flimsy “Biden.” This hesitation and recalcitrance are viewed by Democratic Party loyalists as insanity. “How can you possibly risk another four years under a Trump presidency?” they fume with incredulity. “Nothing could be worse than four more years under the ‘orange scourge.’” But suspicion of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party insiders is neither insane nor imprudent. When you are being invited by cannibals to join them in a life raft, they may be less interested in your survival than they are in having an adequate food supply. And it cannot be denied that the Democratic Party eats its own. Time and again, people of color loyal to the Democratic Party have suffered wounds inflicted by party insiders. After praising African American women for saving the party in the November 2018 elections, insiders are now leaning towards finding a vice presidential candidate who can “appeal to ‘working class Americans.’” “Working class Americans” is a not-so-subtle dog whistle to moderate white voters who turned their backs on the Democratic Party and voted for Trump in 2016. We step into Biden’s life raft at our own peril if we do not demand some conditions first. The multi-flawed Joe Biden has a lot to atone for in order to deserve the vote of poor Americans and people of color. His 1995 Crime Bill, his opposition to women’s freedom of choice for their reproductive rights, his treatment of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings, his opposition to busing for school desegregation and his “too cozy” relationships with segregationists during the 1970s all stand out as bright red flags warning us of his willingness to abandon us. For Biden to convince us that he has a more equitable view of government, he must foremost choose a female woman of color as his vice presidential running mate If this is a deal breaker for the party insiders, that says more about the party than it does about the significant number of highly qualified women of color in politics who would run on the Democratic ticket. Next, Joe Biden must legitimately embrace universal health care now that the weaknesses of the current health care structure of this country have been exposed by the COVID-19 crisis. He also must take responsible positions on climate change and the environment, prison reform, police misconduct and minimum wage, as well as the United States being a reliable global partner in the areas of women’s rights and human rights generally. Unfortunately, even if Joe Biden does not deliver on these issues, we will have to vote for him in November. He will not deserve our votes, but he will get them anyway because we must rid America of Trump. But Biden will be well advised to understand that he will be a one-term president if he tries to return this country to the way things were. There will be opposition to his re-election, kicking off on the day of his inauguration in 2021. His political persona has too many comorbidities to survive a sustained and determined four-year assault from the left, which he will certainly face if he disappoints. The Joe Biden we know can be tolerated for one term, but he is not the future of this country. We will grudgingly put him in office, but we will enthusiastically vote him out of office if he tries to take the country back into the past.