- Joe Biden and Kamala Harris represent much of what I detest in politicians, especially the way they have exercised power in a world of criminal justice.
- Biden is one of the most important architects in the failed, immoral war on drugs and a supporter of almost every American military intervention in the last half century.
- Harris, as a district attorney and attorney general, cracked down on poor people and addicts as he dazzled with corruption in the police and prosecution service.
- So why am I voting for these ethically compromised, power-hungry career politicians? It’s simple: Donald Trump has been president for almost four years.
- This is a pillar of opinion. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
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Joe Biden and Kamala Harris represent the lifelong politician̵
Especially when it comes to civil liberties and criminal justice reform – umbrella conditions for the issues I am most politically engaged with – they have absolutely awful records as overreacting “hard on crime” politicians.
And yet I will still vote for the democratic ticket – resolutely, though not without any regret that it has come to this – because Donald Trump’s presidency is so indefensible and destructive.
Vote while holding your nose
It feels awful to vote for candidates you dislike or distrust, but we all have our own political calculation. Mine is centered on an unwavering desire to see Trump’s political career end in a humiliating defeat.
An ideal scenario would be voters who made Trumpism toxic overnight by not only firing him from the presidency but also giving Democrats full control of Congress. Only when Trump proves to be accountable to the party he hijacked can the GOP be reborn as something resembling their supposed ideals, a free market-supporting center-right party that would not pursue policies like an economically damaging trade war.
Not because my political identity is particularly fascinating, but only in the context of this pillar have I taken it upon myself to call myself a “civil liberties”, mainly because issues of civil liberties are what animate me the most.
At various times I have voted for libertarian, republican and democratic presidential tickets. I am atypical of the American electorate – a politically active registered independent who rejects the duopoly and really has no faith in either liberal or conservative orthodoxy.
The point is, I am no reliable democratic voter.
And I do not vote for Biden / Harris because I have some hope that they will “unite” the country or “return us to normalcy.” With some of the most prominent voices on the left twisting into pretzels to justify rebellion and looting, and the United States’ large right-wing party openly embracing QAnon conspiracy theorists and criminals, I am convinced that this country is politically and culturally devastated will be for some time.
Biden and Harris have my vote despite their regrettable records in government. These records are a primer on what they could do in the most powerful office in the world. I want them to be kept honest about these records.
Biden made bad laws, Harris enforced laws badly
Long ago, when there were 20 Democratic presidential candidates, I reset Biden and Harris as the two I would least see at the top of the ticket.
Biden introduced himself as America’s folk music, work-over-the-aisle, “get stuff done” legislator. And boy did he get things done.
For four decades, as a senator from Delaware, Biden sought to outdo the Republicans of the Reagan era by drafting legislation on drug warfare. He helped create the role of federal “drug czar.” He was instrumental in drafting the 1994 mass imprisonment-aggravating crime law. He boasted of enacting legislation that did “anything but hang people for jaywalking.”
Even in the 2000s, he was the Senate’s trusted democratic drug out of touch, pushing to criminalize rave, arresting party promoters, and urging local municipalities to use the “crack-house legislation” he co-sponsored in 1986. to blow up parties.
Most Americans now favor drug decriminalization and acknowledge the harms of mandatory sentencing and mass imprisonment.
Biden has supported almost every U.S. military intervention in the last half century (though to his credit he opposed President Obama’s intervention in Libya, which proved disastrous).
But Biden cannot escape the fact that, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he enthusiastically whipped up Democratic support for President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq – arguably America’s worst foreign policy failure since the Vietnam War.
Harris ‘record is not as long as Bidens’, but that does not mean she has not hacked some dubious feats by herself.
By selling herself as both a non-nonsense accuser and as a waking, hip-hop-loving, former pot-smoker, Harris’ political career can not be separated from her work as a self-described “top man.”
Although Harris says he, as a district attorney and California attorney general, was a “progressive prosecutor,” Harris was actually both hard-on-crime and soft-on-bad-cop.
As Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown put it:
“Every Advocate General is fighting for state power and police powers. That’s part of the job. But time and time again, Harris went beyond the call of duty and fought for harsher sentences, greater bail demands, longer prison sentences, more prosecution of minor crimes, greater criminal involvement in low-income and minority communities, less competent process for people in the system, less transparency and less responsibility for bad police. “
Like the San Francisco DA, Harris’ office turned a blind eye for years to a corrupt police lab whose work resulted in hundreds of convictions. She aggressively cracked down on parents of threatening children. She pushed to prevent drug addicts with previous drug trafficking convictions from drug courts, which allows nonviolent drug offenders to avoid jail if they complete a drug rehabilitation program.
The progressively skewed U.S. Prospect wrote that Harris, as California’s attorney general, “repeatedly and openly defied U.S. Supreme Court rulings on reducing overcrowding in California prisons”, adding that “Harris and her legal team submitted proposals condemned by judges and legal experts. as an obstacle, bad faith and meaningless, at one point even suggested that the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction to order a reduction in California’s prison population. “
Also, as AG, Harris’ office fought to keep a released man in jail because his lawyers had missed an application deadline and only released him from jail once the courts were forced to do so. Harris’ office tried to prevent exempted former prisoners from charging financial compensation from the state that mistakenly stole years of their lives. Her office was also known for “slowly rolling” the investigation of corrupt or violent police officers and prosecutors.
So why am I voting for these ethically compromised, power-hungry career politicians?
It’s simple: Donald Trump has been president for almost four years.
Look around, this mess is Trump’s legacy
This is no longer 2016 where we can play “wouldn’t it be nice” fantasy games about how a sharp political outsider could shake the system up and rise to the occasion.
Much of what was feared for a Trump presidency has come to bear.
Under his watch, the GOP has, with decisive abandonment of fiscal conservatism, sat idle while personally dismantling the alliances that maintained US-led international order after World War II. He has normalized casual racism and unfounded conspiracy theory. He has presided over the worst national coronavirus response in the developed world, resulting in the deaths of nearly 220,000 Americans.
Aside from politics, he is a terrible executive. Trump continues to fail our country with every meaningful poll.
In terms of his boasting of being a major reform of criminal justice, Trump deserves credit for fighting for prison reform by signing the First Step Act. However, Trump’s Justice Department is about to chip away from its effectiveness. He also reversed the Obama administration’s policy and restarted the federal government’s program to provide surplus military equipment to local police departments. Just this week, he celebrated an out-of-court police killing. And Trump, as a police-political union – the firmest opponents of the reform – is what it will be.
That said, it does not want the Democrats wanting to have Trump away with the necessary democratic means.
Concerns that the Democratic Party is taking a hard left turn on economic and social issues are the ones I share. We desperately need to tackle climate change, but the Green New Deal cannot be remotely controlled in its current form. The growing left-wing tendency to use racial essentialism to achieve “justice” is one that I wholeheartedly reject. And I think it’s positive nuts for liberals to urge billionaire technologists to be the arbitrators of the truth online.
With hope, I throw rhetorical cliffs over a Biden administration coming on January 20 and for four years thereafter. (And yes, I was an idiot for declaring Biden’s candidacy dead after he was wiped out in Iowa and New Hampshire.)
Whatever objections I may have to a Biden administration’s policy, I believe it would competently control the government machinery instead of eroding it and replacing it with nothing like Trump did.
I’ve never been worse off voting for a presidential ticket, but this year I’m doing it unapologetically and enthusiastically. My hands would probably shake as I shadow in the ovals on the ballot paper if the pandemic life had not robbed me of the ability to feel emotions.
And yet I am completely determined in my decision to vote for the Democrats, simply because Trump and Trumpism must be rejected by the largest possible number of Americans in the clearest terms. For me in 2020, a third-party protest vote is just not as loud as a democratic protest vote.
Republicans can thank Donald Trump for my Democratic vote in 2020.