What’s Left: The Democratic Party Must Reevaluate

JJ Citron, Maroon-News Staff

The number of candidates appearing onstage continues to shrink as the 2020  presidential election approaches. Former Vice President Joe Biden is currently leading with a 27 percent national polling average, according to The New York Times. Elizabeth Warren is trailing behind, with 22 percent of the national polling average. However, I am hesitant to trust polling numbers. In the 2016 election, I remember checking Five-Thirty-Eight every single day, and was always reassured that Hillary Clinton would win the election. With this in mind, it is important to proceed with caution. It’s not always the person in the lead who’s really in the lead.

In terms of news coverage popularity, Joe Biden has 62,829 mentions across CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, according to Internet Archive’s Television News Archive via the GDELT Project. Warren trails behind in second place, with 24,198 mentions across CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Bernie Sanders totals 23,286 mentions. 

Considering these numbers, it is clear that Biden is the most discussed candidate. After all, he has over 45 years of political experience and is clearly qualified to hold office. However, the larger question remains unanswered: has Joe Biden’s time passed? Has he aged out of office? 

By “aged out of office”, I mean two things.First, there is the fact that Biden is 77 years old. That means that if elected, he would be the oldest president to ever hold office. Secondly, Biden seems to have lost his grip when it comes to more contemporary issues. 

For example, during the November debate, the former Vice President stated that “no man has a right to raise a hand to a woman in anger other than in self-defense, and that rarely ever occurs. So we have to just change the culture, period. And keep punching at it, and punching at it, and punching at it.” In other words, while addressing the culture of violence towards women in the United States, Biden used a rather violent and inappropriate metaphor that demonstrated a seeming lack of understanding about the issue. 

On top of this, he began his answer by urging Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which he led during his tenure in the United States Senate. Further, during the November debate, Cory Booker pointed out that Biden does not support federal legalization of marijuana. Booker said Biden’s position on cannabis contradicted the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and many black Americans, who he said have been disproportionately impacted by criminal charges related to marijuana. “Let me tell you … marijuana in our country is already legal for privileged people. The war on drugs has been a war on black and brown people,” Booker said. 

In response, Biden attempted to clarify his opinion on marijuana laws, saying, “I think we should decriminalize marijuana, period. And I think everyone—anyone who has a record—should be let out of jail, their records expunged, be completely zeroed out. But I do think it makes sense, based on data, that we should study what the long-term effects are for the use of marijuana.” 

In examining the generational data regarding those who support marijuana legalization, the Pew Research Center reported that two-thirds of Americans agree that marijuana should be legal. The Washington Post places Biden within the Silent Generation, which demographers and researchers use mid-to-late 1920s as starting birth years and early-to-mid 1940s as ending birth years, with 1945 a widely accepted ending birth year. According to Pew, only about a third (35 percent) of the members of the Silent Generation support marijuana legalization. Biden falls squarely into this generational statistic regarding legalization of marijuana in the United States, and it seems like he’s failed to catch up with the majority of the country. 

I don’t want to diminish Joe Biden’s political track record and meaningful contributions to the United States during his political tenure. His 2020 presidential platform is thorough and specific. He might be the only candidate who can realistically beat Donald Trump. However, I am unsure whether he has the energy to take on the next four years. The only way forward is to proceed with caution, and maintain a healthy skepticism of online polls.