Dr. Thomas Swan studied cognition and culture at Queen's University Belfast. He enjoys exploring the interplay between politics and culture.
This article will cover several things that you are unlikely to know about Joe Biden's voting record, beliefs, motivations, and character. Beginning with his views on reproductive rights, each claim made in this article will be supported by either a reliable source or a quote from the man himself.
1. Biden Is More Pro-Life Than You Think
At the beginning of Joe Biden's political career, he was unashamedly opposed to abortion and had a dismal view of women's rights. In 1974, he said:
I don't think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.
— Joe Biden
His admittedly "social conservative" outlook changed little over time. In 1981, Biden voted to let states overturn Roe v. Wade and, in the same year, passed the Hyde Amendment, banning federal funding for abortions and US foreign aid for abortion research. He repeatedly upheld the Hyde Amendment, saying in 1994 that, "those of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them." In 1996, 1998, and 2003, he also voted to ban "partial-birth" abortions, despite the lives saved by such procedures.
Biden's social conservatism also contributed to his vote against gay marriage in 1996, and a history of racially discriminatory policies and statements (see below).
As recently as 2019, Biden still supported the Hyde Amendment, but, after receiving considerable criticism, he now claims to oppose it. However, if you expect a more liberal Supreme Court under his Presidency, you may be disappointed.
2. Biden Wants to Cut Social Security
Despite recent comments to the contrary, Joe Biden has been trying to cut Social Security for 40 years. In 1995, he told the Senate:
When I argued that we should freeze federal spending, I meant Social Security as well. I meant Medicare and Medicaid. I meant veterans’ benefits. I meant every single solitary thing in the government. And I not only tried it once, I tried it twice, I tried it a third time, and I tried it a fourth time.
— Joe Biden
As early as 1984, Biden had teamed up with Reagan Republicans to demand Social Security cuts. Decades later, and after dozens of other examples, his strategy had not changed. In 2018 he said: "Paul Ryan was correct when he did the tax code. What’s the first thing he decided we had to go after? Social Security and Medicare. Now, we need to do something about Social Security and Medicare."
Could it be that Biden's very recent change of heart is more a case of telling people what they want to hear?
3. Biden Voted for the Iraq War
To say that Joe Biden voted for the disastrous Iraq War is an understatement. He was instrumental in obtaining Democratic support for the War and spoke several times in support of it himself. He even took credit for writing George W. Bush's 2001 Patriot Act that destroyed the rights and privacy of US citizens. Later, he pinned a Liberty Medal on Bush for "services to veterans" in 2018.
Giving a medal for "services to veterans" to a war criminal who ordered 4,700 American soldiers to their deaths, with around 9,000 veterans taking their own lives afterwards, is abhorrent and an insult to all those who died. The following video contains one veteran's reaction.
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In many other ways, Joe Biden's foreign policy mirrors that of Republican administrations and the hawkish actions of Democratic ones. In 2019, he sided with Donald Trump and John Bolton in supporting a coup in Venezuela (they have the largest oil reserves in the world; Iraq is also in the top five). Biden has also supported regime change wars in Libya, Syria, and Yemen.
4. Biden Is Opposed to Medicare for All
Medicare for All would provide healthcare to every American, saving 68,000 lives and preventing the suffering associated with over half a million bankruptcies annually. Will it be too expensive? No. Multiple studies confirm it will save each family about $2,800 annually after tax rises are considered. Will the quality of care be worse? No. Medicare for All will increase life expectancy by two years and reduce serious illnesses by 15%. Will people lose their private insurance? Probably, and they will get better, cheaper coverage in its place.
For these reasons, most of the developed world has a Medicare For All system. They can afford it and they want to keep it. In fact, 70% of Americans also want Medicare For All, so why is Joe Biden opposed? Apart from bringing up the easily debunked reasons above, Biden wants to build on Obamacare, a failed system that has been a highly profitable gift to the health insurance industry. Biden even invoked his dead son in an emotive, roundabout defense of it.
5. Biden Voted for NAFTA
In 2016, Hillary Clinton was hammered in the Rust Belt for her history of support for NAFTA and the TPP. Such "free trade deals" depress wages and send jobs overseas, and Clinton's support ultimately allowed Donald Trump to win crucial swing states in the 2016 election (e.g., Michigan and Wisconsin).
It is therefore worrying that Joe Biden is no different. He voted for NAFTA, free trade with China, and supported the TPP, and he has defended these actions during his 2020 campaign for president.
6. Biden Does Not Care About the Climate
Joe Biden may want to re-enter the Paris Accord (which, unfortunately, is a non-binding collection of words that promise little action), but the Obama-Biden administration oversaw the greatest US oil production gain in modern history, opened the arctic to drilling twice, and laid more oil pipeline than any previous administration.
Biden's own words and actions also say plenty about where his commitments lie. He is unwilling to ban fracking and, in almost Trumpian fashion, borrowed his climate policy directly from fossil fuel companies. When confronted about his destructive policies, Biden told a voter to "go vote for someone else."
7. Biden Wrote the 1994 Crime Bill
In 1994, Joe Biden helped write a notorious crime bill that led to the mass incarceration of African Americans. For example, the bill imposed higher sentences for drugs commonly used by minorities compared to drugs used by white people. It also included the widely condemned "three strikes" rule for imposing life sentences (affecting minorities who are targeted more by police), and greatly expanded the use of the death penalty.
Biden argued strongly for the bill, saying it was to "keep predators off the streets" who were "beyond the pale," perpetuating harmful myths about communities of color.
8. Biden Wants to Keep Student Debt High
Despite pretending to care about the middle class, Joe Biden has backed several bills that make it harder for people to reduce their student debt. For example, in 2005, he was chiefly responsible for passing legislation to prevent people from accessing bankruptcy protections to discharge their student debt in court. The financial industry, which benefits from such legislation, has donated millions to Biden over the course of his career.
9. Corruption and Money in Politics
To understand why a politician would support such policies, we should revisit 1974, when Joe Biden participated in a revealing interview about political corruption. When the interviewer politely assumed his innocence, Biden appeared to question that, saying: "I’m not sure you should assume I’m not corrupt, but thank you for that." He then proceeded to say that corruption is "implicit" in Washington and, in an apparent admission, said, "you have to go to those people who have money, and they always want something."
Even worse was his allocation of blame for this situation: "I think the American public, in a way, rips off we politicians by forcing us to run the way they do." The most damning statement came near the end of the interview, confirming that even when Biden wasn't able to be corrupt, he wanted to be:
I didn’t have many larger contributors, and the only reason, see, I went to the big guys for the money. I was ready to prostitute myself in the manner in which I talk about it, but what happened was, they said, 'Come back when you’re 40, son.'
— Joe Biden
Well, Biden did come back. In the 2020 race for President, about 64% of his cash has come from "large contributions," which isn't surprising. The first day of his campaign was spent at a lavish fundraiser with corporate lobbyists, GOP donors, and health insurance executives.
Many of these powerful friends have companies registered in Biden's home state of Delaware, which may be the epicenter of US corruption. The state has a lax court system and leaves numerous loopholes for corporations and criminals to jump through to avoid taxes, create anonymous shell companies, and shift dirty money around. Over a million companies are based there (285,000 in one building alone); more than the population of the entire state.
The consequence of all this corruption is policies that allow the rich to get richer (unregulated greed, low tax rates, etc.) and the poor to get poorer (medical bills, student debt, low wages, etc.). In fact, Biden voted to repeal Glass-Steagal banking regulations in 1999, paving the way for the 2008 recession.
It should therefore come as no surprise that wealth inequality and poverty rose during the Obama-Biden administration. The top 1% of Americans now own more wealth than the bottom 90%, and we should only expect this trend to continue under a Biden administration. In fact, Biden recently assured his wealthy donors that if he is elected in 2020:
No one’s standard of living will change. Nothing would fundamentally change.
— Joe Biden
Accordingly, Biden said in 2018, "I don't think 500 billionaires are the reason we're in trouble. The folks at the top aren't bad guys."
10. Biden's History of Racism
It would be unfair to say that Joe Biden is motivated solely by money and power. He is also motivated by offensively regressive beliefs about race.
In 1975, he opposed desegregation efforts (busing black children to white schools) with use of some shaky "separate but equal" arguments from the 1890s. The arguments might not have been so transparent if he hadn't praised a segregationist that same year, calling George Wallace's arguments "right." Then, in 1977, he voiced concern about America becoming less white, saying he didn't want his kids to grow up in a "racial jungle."
In 2006, Biden made a racially insensitive remark about people from India:
In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian Americans, moving from India to America, you cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin Donuts without at least a slight Indian accent.
— Joe Biden
Then, in 2007, Biden suggested that minorities are inherently less intelligent than white people, attributing Iowa's better schools to a lack of minorities. In the same year, he implied black men assault women and have a problem using contraception, saying, "I spent last summer going through the black sections of my town holding rallies in parks trying to get black men to understand it’s not unmanly to wear a condom, getting women to understand they can say no."
Also in 2007, Biden said that Obama is making history because he is:
...the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.
— Joe Biden
Taken together, these remarks suggest Biden was only chosen as Obama's VP to appease white closet-racists who were afraid of a black President. Yet, in 2020, many African American voters appear to be supporting Biden precisely because of his association with Obama. Of course, all races make uninformed choices for various reasons, but Obama-nostalgia appears to be the reason for this particular uninformed choice among this demographic. (We must also remember that it is the media who are to blame for not informing the public, not the public themselves.)
11. Biden's Lies and Plagiarism
Finally, to understand what it takes to say these horrible things, to support these abhorrent policies, and to engage in this corruption, we should revisit Joe Biden's unsuccessful run for president in 1988, a year in which he lied to a room full of people about his time in law school. Biden claimed to have finished in the top half of his class and to have been awarded a full scholarship and numerous honors on his way to completing several degrees. All of this was untrue. The following video contains these lies, spoken by the man himself.
Biden also plagiarized five pages of an essay he claimed to have written in law school. He went on to plagiarize other politician's speeches without giving citation or credit to the original authors. Biden claimed to have been "dumb," presumably because "dishonest" would have sounded worse.
Whatever was in his mind, the American public thought they could do better than a dumb president, and Biden was forced to withdraw his candidacy. Thirty years later, is it any less of a sin?
Unfortunately for Biden, his dishonesty (and I think we can call it that) was not limited to 1988. In 2020, he claimed to be have been arrested in South Africa for trying to visit Nelson Mandela. He was caught in this lie while on the campaign trail in South Carolina—apparently trying to fool the state's large African American population into voting for him.
If you have read this far, I hope you no longer intend to support Joe Biden: a man who has supported wars that have killed millions, trade deals that have decimated the Rust Belt, a crime bill befitting his bigotry, a healthcare system that kills 68,000 Americans annually, and policies that have destroyed the environment, stripped benefits from the vulnerable, and that have prevented women from accessing reproductive care, gay people from getting married, and students from accessing bankruptcy laws.
Joe Biden has a rotten record because he is corrupt, as made clear by his own remarks and the immoral swamp that is his home state of Delaware. He is corrupt because he is a compulsive liar, bigot, and plagiarist with an inability to tell right from wrong.
Whether you agree with me or not, a good number of liberals and progressives will not support Joe Biden because they are aware of at least some of what I have said. So if you are an apologist for all that Biden has done, know that many people do not forgive so easily, and they will not stand beside you in 2020. If you really want to beat Trump, stop apologizing for Biden, and instead find a candidate with a modicum of integrity.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2020 Thomas Swan