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Joe Biden’s Role in Engineering the System of Mass Incarceration

Official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden in his West Wing Office at the White House, Jan. 10, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Some Americans Love Mediocre White Centrists

Two days ago, former Vice President Joe Biden announced his candidacy for President of the United States. It will mark his fourth attempt running for the office after previous failed tries in 1984, 1988, and 2008. There has been much speculation for months that he would run, and Progressives aren’t here for it.

Black and Intellectual published an article earlier this month going over some of the accusations leveled against Biden by women. Many have sought to downplay these accusations and the weird behavior of Biden in public. Making apologetic excuses for suspect behavior and trash policy stances have become the norm for some within the Democratic Party. 

Many Americans seem to have an affinity for mediocrity from our politicians. We demand change, yet show support for those who have done many of us harm. To me, it makes little sense. Some deem their support for him to be pragmatic or “realistic.” I disagree, the smart political move is to get behind candidates who have very popular, progressive policy proposals. They may not be perfect, but they’re right on enough issues where Trump is weak to where they’d be able to run against him effectively.

The problem with Joe Biden is that he is a relic of the past. I don’t mean that in an ageist way, I’m speaking of the stances he’s taken in the past. He holds positions that are not popular with many in the country and opposes policies that are popular. How is nominating Joe Biden making us stronger against Trump? The only people who believe that are those indirectly saying Biden is strong becausehe’s a conservative White male.

That is not how we should be approaching 2020 – unless we want to lose.

Some within the Democratic party have taken a “vote blue, no matter who” and “anyone but Trump” stance. That’s a problematic approach to the 2020 election as well. The primaries exist so that we can nominate the strongest person possible. Not to coronate a leader. Did Democrats learn nothing from 2016?

A large part of what makes a candidate strong are the policies they support. That drives people to the polls because you give them a reason to come out and vote. You can’t expect an energized base to come out for a man who constantly craps on Millennials and doesn’t realize how out-of-touch he is with working-class Americans.

It’s time for American voters to dispel any notions that mediocre white centrists are going to save us. They won’t, they’ll actually do more damage. Only with a smile on their faces and a folksy demeanor.

The Drug War Champion

You heard it from Joe Biden’s very mouth. He didn’t care why the crime happened, he just wanted to mass incarcerate and “cordon them off” from society. So he didn’t care about poverty, lack of upward mobility, gun access, the U.S. government looking the other way to allow drugs to come into inner cities – no none of that. Joe Biden’s views on drugs are seen as extreme by many today, understand though that that was the majority thinking in our government at the time. 

That means the American government took an extremist position on drug usage – and Joe Biden was one of many architects. In this video, you see a Joe Biden circa 1989 to the right of Ronald Reagan who he essentially deems to be too “soft on crime.” He calls for more cops on the streets and more prosecutors to prosecute them. Then he says, “there are not enough prison cells to put them in prison for a long time.”

This was Joe Biden – drunk on ‘tough on crime’ hysteria taking a far-right stance on Black people and drugs we don’t even produce. It was known back in the 1990s that these policies were going to devastate urban communities – Biden ignored it. Leadership within the Democratic Party ignored it.

Now it’s 2019 and he wants our votes for President of the United States!? The audacity! Joe Biden should be issuing an apology to the Black community for his role in the creation of the prison-complex – the largest in the world. He should be detailing a plan for how he’s going to dismantle this system. He should be supportive of, at the very least, HR. 40 to look into reparations for the war waged on the Black population that he supported. I know HR. 40 is only to research the issue of reparations and that is not the same thing as putting forth a plan. However, many candidates running have announced their support for the policy.

I’m not holding my breathe that he will do any of these things.

Drug War Legislation

Back in the late ’80s – early ’90s, Joe Biden was set on making the Democratic Party even more right-wing than the Republicans on the War on Drugs. On the Senate floor in 1991, he advocated for the death penalty for “major drug traffickers,” and was a major supporter of civil asset theft (I mean forfeiture) and mandatory minimums. He was as right-wing as you can be on this issue.

Joe Biden once bragged in the Senate that it was his work with staunch segregationist Strom Thurmond that led Congress to pass a law sending anyone caught with a rock of cocaine the size of a quarter to jail for a minimum of five years.

Embrace the Civil War Within the Party

Last week, Black and Intellectual published an article explaining how Progressives are the true resistors – or rebels – within the Democratic Party. This resistance includes a rebellion against centrist, do-nothing policies that are meant to placate to industry instead of voters. It’s not just a rebellion against the racism of this administration. It’s a rebellion against Third Way Democrats and the tired, failed policies of the Clinton era.

That is why I say we should embrace the civil war within the party. We should fight for policies that will increase the standard of living, raise health levels through universal Medicare-for-All, create a better planet by increasing our environmental standards. These issues and others, are worth fighting for.

Calls for civility coming from establishment Democrats fall on deaf ears when those same Democrats talk down to the base. They are ignored when folks see you siding with propagandists against Ilhan Omar who is in your own party.

This article was originally published on Black and Intellectual.

Written by Brian Lewis

Brian Lewis

Brian Lewis is a part-time blogger who runs Black and Intellectual when he's not working hard in the financial sector. He defines himself as an Independent, Radical Progressive seeking to expand the freedoms and liberties of America, not tear them down. Check out Brian's website, Black and Intellectual.

Brian is a Guest Contributor to Progressive Army.

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Joe Biden’s Role in Engineering the System of Mass Incarceration