Seeking the Black Vote

With the growing number of Democrats joining the 2020 Presidential race, there is one candidate that truly stands out: Former Vice-President Joe Biden. This will be the third time that Joe Biden has run for presidency, but this time he is on a mission. Biden has been trying to rack up as much support from Black Caucus lawmakers, who he hopes will further assist him in getting the African American vote. So far, the former vice-president has gained support from three Black lawmakers, one in particular is Representative Donald McEachin from Virginia. McEachin stated that Joe Biden would need to do more than try to seek support from Congressional Black Caucus members , he also must “ …be out there with people, meeting folks and reminding them who he is. If he does that, which I know he will do, I’m absolutely confident he will be the next president.” But this isn’t the first time that we have seen a White politician seek the support of minorities.

In class, we learned about how politicians like John F. Kennedy, who created policies to help people of color (ex: affirmative action). Yet as Thomas Surge pointed out in Affirmative Action from Below , those holding the power in society knew that the policies were “weak”, difficult to enforce and lead to forms of resistance such as reverse discrimination. As the presidential race continues, it will be interesting to see the types of promises that Biden will make for minorities and people of color during his campaign and how he plans to tackle current issues within today’s society once he becomes president. Or will he straddle the fence and make legislation that appears to help minorities, but only work for those in power?

2 Replies to “Seeking the Black Vote”

  1. This is an interesting topic. Joe Biden represents an older generation of Democrats. The type that is focused on a working class message. Although, as we learned in class, that working class message worked for some minorities, those that identified with class over race, the Democratic party has made a shift to focusing on issues specific to protecting minority rights as opposed to a more general economic message. This shift occured after Biden first ran for office and therefore he has frequently struggled to embrace that shift.

    He has proven this especially from his recent poor handling of the women who came forward and said he made them feel uncomfortable because of how touchy he was around them. The issue with this is less about his actions in the past but rather how he failed to appropriately address it now. If he had simply apologized perhaps people would be viewing him with less scrutiny now, however he failed to do so. He also attempted recently to reach out and apologize to Anita Hill. However, she refused to describe his remarks to her as an apology and instead called for him to take action in support of women who experienced sexual harassment and violence. The current Democratic party wants more action in support of minorities and Biden appears to be more talk.

  2. Biden will likely get the black vote, but he’s deeply problematic.

    Abigail, you’re partly correct that Biden represents the old guard of the Democratic Party, though the claim that he represents the working-class is not quite correct. You have to think of this from an intersectional perspective.

    The “working-class” then and now is often a euphemism for the white male working-class. Put another way, Biden, and more generally the Democratic Party, generally supported (or claimed it) working-class white men to the general exclusion of women and people of color–though white working-class women benefitted from their proximity to white men.

    Secondly, the New Deal coalition is different from the New Democrats–best represented by Bill Clinton, who moved to the center to counter the conservative movement. Biden, like Clinton, is a New Democrat and therefore different than Democrats from the New Deal coalition.

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