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From disgruntled to satisfied: a progressive’s journey with Joe Biden

I’ll be straightforward: I was not happy when Joe Biden won the Democratic primaries. I, like many in the college student age group, was a fierce advocate for Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren, at the very least. When it became clear that a Sanders presidency was not going to happen, I became disillusioned. How could I not be? It was a straight repeat of 2016. The Democratic National Committee had somehow decided against correcting the exact same mistakes that led to Donald Trump being elected president. With this, I understood that electoral politics were not going to be the path to change for the next four years. 

Don’t get me wrong, I was never not going to vote for Joe Biden. Rhetoric that tells us that it’s impossible to engage in mutual aid and grassroots activism while at the same time voting for the lesser of two evils is harmful and should be avoided. But I wasn’t excited to vote. Still, today I listened to Joe Biden’s town hall—something to drown out the silence while I did homework. When he discussed his current understanding of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, namely calling it a mistake, it immediately caught my attention. The same man that advocated for a bill that put too many people in jail for non-violent crimes (note: one is too many), was now calling for community policing, complete restructuring of the system, and engaging in the same arguments that leftists have now argued for years. This isn’t the first instance of Joe Biden working towards many of the things leftists propose. He worked with progressives on issues and created a 110-page platform outlining progressive (or at least progressive-lite) policies that Biden’s platform was undertaking. Its topics range from education access to climate change, to inequality, to healthcare, to so many more issues that progressives have fought for (and will continue to fight for). Far too many people have argued for or against electing Biden first, and then pushing him towards progressiveness, failing to realize that the push to progressiveness is already well underway. 

One of the reasons why I was incredibly satisfied with voting for Bernie was entirely a character issue. Bernie has been a genuine, consistent champion of issues that matter to me, from the 1960s to now. But while Biden doesn’t have the track record, he most definitely has the character. Even Lindsey Graham, a political opposite that would argue against anything Democrat, described him as “as good a man as God ever created.”

I still contend that I would have been happier with a Sanders presidency. Perhaps Bernie would be performing better in town halls and debates. I, however, would argue that their presidencies would still have similar outcomes in terms of policy. As much as I would want most of the progressive platform to happen, four years is a surprisingly low amount of time, and checks and balances are (mostly) still alive and kicking. A progressive president does not mean a progressive Senate and progressive House. In the end, a moderate Congress would enable Joe to pass what he proposes, but would likely not pass all that a Sanders administration would push for. 

In a way, I am glad that a candidate like Joe won, over a different non-progressive candidate like Buttigieg, who by nature would likely only deepen the divide between progressive and moderate Democrats. Between the primaries and now, Joe Biden has shown himself to be a capable, open and qualified candidate for the presidency, and I trust that those who read policies put out by his campaign will agree.

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