After nearly four tumultuous years of the Trump administration’s tenure in power, Americans have witnessed a president who is authoritarian, sexist, racist, xenophobic, unhinged, dishonest, and militaristic. We are told by celebrities, Democratic Party leaders, and liberal-leaning news outlets that presidential candidate Joe Biden would either be a good replacement or at least the “lesser of two evils.” But when we take a close look at his record, it’s difficult to pinpoint why exactly Biden is allegedly “better than Trump.” Here are 25 troubling aspects of Biden’s record, personality, and prospects for leadership.
1. He supported “states’ rights” to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Early in his career, Senator Joe Biden voted to allow states to overturn the landmark 1973 abortion legislation Roe v. Wade. The 1981 bill, which thankfully never passed, was referred to by the National Abortion Rights Action League as “the most devastating attack yet on abortion rights.”
2. He supported the Hyde Amendment.
On the topic of abortion legislation, Biden also long supported the Hyde Amendment, a 1976 bill that prohibits federal funds from being used for abortion services. He only recently reversed his position on this matter, though he made “no apologies for the last position.”
3. He supported racial segregation.
The fact that Joe Biden was involved in anti-busing legislation in the 1970s has been receiving more attention as the candidate endures heightened scrutiny. Janell Ross of NBC News explained additional details of this unsavory history in a piece headlined, “Joe Biden didn’t just compromise with segregationists. He fought for their cause in schools, experts say.”
4. He played a central role in drafting the 1994 crime bill.
The implementation of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act resulted in what we now call “mass incarceration” — a phenomenon that has had a vastly disproportionate impact on minority communities. Though then-president Bill Clinton later admitted, “I signed a bill that made the problem worse,” Biden continued to take pride in the legislation (as well as credit for producing it) for years to come, even referring to it as the “1994 Biden Crime Bill” in 2015.
5. He lied about his involvement in the civil rights movement.
Journalist and activist Shaun King has compiled exhaustive source material on this issue. In short, there is no verifiable evidence that Joe Biden ever participated in the civil rights movement. But Biden has lied about other topics as well, so I’m willing to be generous and include all his lies within this one entry — even his whopper about being arrested in South Africa.
6. He participated in the humiliation of Anita Hill.
As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the 1991 confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas, Joe Biden played a key role in this disgraceful historic episode of sexism and humiliation. In her testimony, Hill articulated the instances of sexual harassment that were perpetrated against her by Thomas. As Li Zhou explained in Vox:
“In response to her allegations, the 14 all-white, all-male members of the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled her relentlessly, with several Republicans openly seeking to discredit her and even accusing her of ‘erotomania.’ […] Biden allowed Thomas to testify before and after Hill did, and did not call upon three women who could have testified about their own experiences with Thomas and office culture.”
In short, Biden did not step in to defend Hill during this onslaught, and even personally participated in asking inappropriate questions. He later apologized, saying, “As the committee chairman, I take responsibility that she did not get treated well.”
7. He has been accused of inappropriate behavior by 8 women.
Speaking of sexual harassment, “eight women have alleged that Biden either touched them inappropriately or violated their personal space in ways that made them uncomfortable.” In what some critics referred to as a “non-apology,” Biden said he would try to do better. However, he also later said, “I’m not sorry for anything I’ve ever done.”
There have been developments in this story since its initial publication:
Is #MeToo Finally Catching up With Joe Biden?
Recent revelations may be difficult for the Biden campaign to survive
Evidence Mounts in Tara Reade’s Case Against Biden
Tara Reade’s story has recently been corroborated by additional sources
8. He supported the Iraq War.
Not only did Biden vote in favor of the 2002 Iraq War Resolution — he also played a leading role in inspiring congressional support for the invasion, which was infamously justified using fabricated intelligence. According to Vox, “in the months leading up to the vote authorizing war, [Biden] organized a series of Senate hearings, in close coordination with the White House, during which he echoed the administration’s talking points about weapons of mass destruction.” This disastrous military intervention eventually resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, cost American taxpayers more than $2 trillion, and led to the formation of ISIS.
9. He once called Dick Cheney a “decent man.”
Okay, I know I’m getting into anecdotal territory here, but Dick Cheney was a really bad hombre. As George W. Bush’s vice president, Cheney was known as one of the primary architects of the aforementioned Iraq War and a leading proponent of torture. If you’d like to learn more about this hideous American supervillian, check out Adam McKay’s 2018 film Vice.
10. He has consistently advocated for Social Security cuts.
A recent fact-check by The Intercept found that Biden has advocated cutting Social Security for the last 40 years. He even bragged about it on the Senate floor in 1995, saying:
“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.”
11. He once referred to Barack Obama as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean.”
These comments were made in 2007. Pretty cringeworthy stuff, Uncle Joe. There’s not much more to say about this, but based on the aesthetics of this piece, I do feel as though this entry should be longer. I guess one way to think about this particular phrasing used by Biden is to juxtapose it with the following entry. In that context, reducing the first Black president to a condescending stereotype could be seen as a decent compliment, considering who it’s coming from.
12. He participated in the demonization of the Black community.
In the 1990s, the Clinton administration continued the Reagan-era paranoia regarding violent crime with, among other policies, the aforementioned crime bill. As we now know in hindsight, this obsession was simply thinly-veiled racism targeting the Black community in the wake of civil rights legislation. In short, it was white backlash. Biden wholeheartedly utilized the vitriolic rhetoric of that era, including the infamous term “predator” — a dehumanizing and racist dog whistle.
13. He opposes Medicare for All.
It should be unacceptable that, in the richest country on Earth, more than 30,000 people die every year due to lack of access to healthcare. However, Joe Biden has used right-wing talking points to oppose the only comprehensive legislation that would insure every American citizen unconditionally.
14. He met with a Ukrainian neo-Nazi.
I know, I know. All politicians — in the service of diplomacy — need to meet with some unsavory characters, you might say. But this is a little different. I’m not being hyperbolic here. Biden literally shook hands with Ukrainian Social-National Party co-founder Oleh Tyanhbok, a Sieg Heil-sporting anti-Semite. The Social-National Party was described by Tel-Aviv University as “an extremist, right-wing, nationalist organization which emphasizes its identification with the ideology of German National Socialism.”
It should be absolutely unacceptable to pal around with fascists, especially in the era of Trumpian white nationalism and right-wing terrorism. If you’re going to have a pleasant interaction with a prominent individual, at least do a quick Google search first to make sure they’re not a Nazi.
15. He voted for the Patriot Act.
The USA PATRIOT Act was an authoritarian piece of legislation that was hastily jammed through Congress in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It infringed upon basic civil liberties, erected a domestic mass surveillance apparatus, and disproportionately targeted the American Muslim community and anti-war activists. Due to the nationalistic fervor surrounding 9/11, most congresspeople voted in support of this law, but some refused. Not only did Biden support this legislation, he also helped write its predecessor.
16. He opposes marijuana legalization.
It should be clear by now that the War on Drugs is inherently racist and needs to be put to an end. Marijuana prohibition is not only a major focus of this failed policy, but it also has a notoriously racist history of its own. These decades of prohibition have only ensured the ubiquity of the black market, empowered drug lords, put users in unnecessary danger, and locked people up for victimless crimes. During thousands of years of recorded human use, the cannabis plant has a death toll somewhere between zero and one. And according to polls, two-thirds of Americans support full legalization. Get with the times, Joe.
17. He helped make sure student loan debt could not be discharged in bankruptcy.
As a senator, Joe Biden pushed for bankruptcy reform legislation several times in the early 2000s. Finally, in 2005, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) was passed. This law, at least in theory, was supported to prevent Americans from abusing Chapter 7 bankruptcy (although a University of North Carolina law professor later said that these abuses “didn’t necessarily exist in the first place”). However, one detrimental effect the law had in practice was that it prevented borrowers from discharging their student loan debt through bankruptcy, essentially creating the modern $1.5 trillion student debt crisis as we know it. And, as you may have guessed, Joe Biden was one of the main Democratic advocates for this legislation.
18. He has “no empathy” for millennials.
In a 2018 conversation with a reporter for the LA Times, Joe Biden had some harsh words for millennials:
“The younger generation now tells me how tough things are. Give me a break. No, no, I have no empathy for it. Give me a break. Because here’s the deal guys, we decided we were gonna change the world. And we did.”
You certainly did change the world, Joe. You made it worse.
This stunning combination of gaslighting and victim-blaming is the ultimate boomerism, especially considering the fact that Biden himself was so intimately involved in crafting the neoliberal legislation that royally screwed over the millennial generation.
19. He has engaged in blatant plagiarism.
Knowing the extent of Biden’s tendency to lie, it should be no surprise that he has conducted himself in an untrustworthy manner in other ways as well. A primary example is the plagiarism Biden engaged in during his 1988 presidential campaign. As Business Insider explained, “Incidents of plagiarism both on the campaign trail and during his time at the Syracuse University College of Law became some of the final issues that dogged Biden before he ultimately suspended his floundering campaign.”
20. He voted to repeal Glass-Steagall.
The Clinton administration’s 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act was one of the primary legislative events that set the stage for the 2008 financial crisis. In the United States, this global catastrophe resulted in about 8.7 million Americans losing their jobs and as many as 10 million losing their homes. As economist Joseph Stiglitz explained:
“In November 1999, Congress repealed the Glass-Steagall Act — the culmination of a $300 million lobbying effort by the banking and financial-services industries…”
“Glass-Steagall had long separated commercial banks (which lend money) and investment banks (which organize the sale of bonds and equities); it had been enacted in the aftermath of the Great Depression and was meant to curb the excesses of that era, including grave conflicts of interest.”
“When repeal of Glass-Steagall brought investment and commercial banks together, the investment-bank culture came out on top. There was a demand for the kind of high returns that could be obtained only through high leverage and big risktaking.”
21. He voted for NAFTA.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which went into effect on January 1, 1994, resulted in the further destruction of labor unions and the loss of about a million American jobs as multinational corporations raked in profits. As Lori Wallach explained in HuffPost:
“Such outcomes include a staggering $181 billion U.S. trade deficit with NAFTA partners Mexico and Canada and the related loss of 1 million net U.S. jobs under NAFTA, growing income inequality, displacement of more than one million Mexican campesino farmers and a doubling of desperate immigration from Mexico, and more than $360 million paid to corporations after ‘investor-state’ tribunal attacks on, and rollbacks of, domestic public interest policies.”
22. He is beholden to corporate interests.
So far in this listicle, what do numbers 10, 13, 17, 20, and 21 have in common? These political stances Joe Biden has taken throughout his career overwhelmingly benefited corporations at the expense of the working class. A concise illustration of this outlook took place at a fundraising event last year, when Biden told Wall Street donors that “nothing would fundamentally change” for them under a Biden presidency. In this Guardian op-ed, Zephyr Teachout explained how Biden’s corporate campaign contributions profoundly influence his policy positions.
23. Like Trump, he bullies people who disagree with him.
Late last year at an Iowa campaign event, Biden was asked by a male audience member about his son Hunter’s former job with a Ukrainian energy company. Biden disputed certain aspects of the man’s line of inquiry, but instead of simply correcting the record, Biden blurted out, “You’re a damn liar.” The former vice president then began focusing on the man’s weight, calling him “sedentary” and even challenging him to a push-up contest. Toward the end of the exchange, Biden says, “Look, fat…” before stopping himself.
24. He entertained the idea of a Republican running mate.
This point is sort of a culmination of this entire listicle; it says a lot about Biden’s political history. Aside from the moral and strategic problems with this, Joe Biden just has awful political instincts that fetishize “compromise” to the point of completely ignoring the needs of the American people. For shame, Joe.
25. He is exhibiting signs of cognitive decline.
We must acknowledge Biden’s glaring cognitive issues, as uncomfortable as it might be. That’s why this topic is set apart from the rest; it has nothing to do with ideology, voting records, honesty, policy, or even gaffes. This is essentially a question of whether or not Joe Biden is currently “fit” for office. As you’ll know if you’ve seen any recent debates or events featuring Biden, he can often be observed slurring his speech and forgetting basic details (such as where he is, Obama’s name, etc.).