How Issues of Injustice Influenced My Presidential Pick

Back in February, I said that on my blog, I would publish posts on major issues relevant to the election that are either misunderstood or not talked about as much as they should be.

By working on such posts, I found myself getting some insights into the upcoming election for President of the United States that I would otherwise not have. Because of those insights, as well as the fact that my blog talks about injustices that need to be addressed, I thought I would end these posts by talking about who I will vote for and why.[1]

I’m voting for Joe Biden because, of all the candidates in the race, I think he gives the best shot at playing a role in addressing injustices. His past track record,[2] while imperfect, gives me that belief.[3]

On the issue of ableism and disability justice, Biden cosponsored some important legislation on this issue. He was a Senate cosponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act,[4] which was landmark legislation for people with disabilities. Earlier in his Senate career, he cosponsored the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, which required equal educational access in all public schools for kids with physical and mental disabilities.[5] While there is still much to do to make all corners of our country as accessible as they need to be, the passage of these laws, which was made a bit easier by Biden’s support and cosponsorship in both cases, was nevertheless useful. His support of such legislation gives me hope that with disability rights issues, he would reject the argument that something is “too expensive” or “too impractical” to be made accessible—arguments I often hear against making certain things accessible.

Those who are familiar with human trafficking issues would know that arguably the most important piece of American legislation when it comes to anti-human trafficking laws is the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA)—without its existence, traffickers couldn’t be prosecuted as easily, and victims wouldn’t be protected as easily.[6] The person who introduced the reauthorization of the Act in the Senate in 2008 was…Joe Biden.[7] As someone who used to help with anti-human trafficking education myself,[8] I think it’s important for me to set the record straight on this issue because it has only come up in this election in the context of a sex trafficking conspiracy theory[9] (one that Trump has praised the supporters of[10]) that has complicated the work of organizations that are trying to combat human trafficking.[11]

Speaking of Biden authoring things, while his authorship of the 1994 Crime Bill was controversial in many ways, one major positive of that overarching bill was the Violence Against Women Act, which among other things helped establish a Domestic Violence Hotline.[12] A hotline that has come of great use during the pandemic[13] exists in large part due to Biden’s efforts.

On environmental issues, Biden, while not perfect[14], is still eons better than Trump. The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) has a scorecard that grades politicians based on which environmental measures they do or do not support, as well as which environmental regulatory rollbacks they do and do not support. Biden’s lifetime score is 83%,[15] which is not as good as the 91%[16] held by Bernie Sanders or the 96% held by Elizabeth Warren.[17] But, his main opponent is Trump, who in LCV’s own words, said about Trump’s environmental grade in his first year in office that: “However, to simply award Trump an ‘F’ does not come close to capturing both the breadth and depth of his administration’s assault on environmental protections and the harm it is causing communities across the country – all to provide favors to the wealthiest corporate polluting interests.”[18]

These are some of the positive things on Joe Biden’s record, and I’m not even coming close to mentioning all the positive things (just a few that should be highlighted). However, as I said, his record is not perfect. I mentioned his Crime Bill on my blog,[19] which is part of a larger dubious record he has when it comes to racial justice issues;[20] there’s also the fact that he supported restrictions that prevented openly gay individuals from serving in the military, supported the Defense of Marriage Act (restricting marriage so that it’s between one man and one woman),[21] and poorly handled the Anita Hill hearing,[22] to name a few of the more problematic parts of his record. A charitable view of Biden’s record is that when someone is in public service for nearly five decades, there are bound to be some major mistakes within that record. A less charitable view would look at his record as evidence of his being a person who would add to injustices, instead of resolving them.

I tend to take a line down the middle—yes, he’s been in public service for a long time, but he does have some injustices to answer to. He has answered by expressing regret for how he handled the Anita Hill situation as well as for past anti-LGBTQ+ positions and the Crime Bill.

More cynical individuals may think that such expressions of regret are just for political expediency and/or are woefully inadequate; I most certainly understand the cynicism because politics can be so cynical at times. However, unlike President Trump, Biden has demonstrated the capacity to not just apologize but back it up with actions to show that he has learned from past mistakes. Of note was the fact that not only did he end up regretting his past positions that were unsupportive of LGBTQ+ rights, but he backed it up by: a) supporting same-sex marriage and b) forcing President Obama’s hand on support of same-sex marriage (by the admission of Obama administration officials).[23] On a number of issues, but particularly racial justice, I sincerely hope that Biden demonstrates a similar capacity to back up his remorse for certain past stances of his (such as authoring the Crime Bill) with action (such as trying to find solutions to the issue of mass incarceration against people of color that many believe he helped create).

Even with the positives I found with Biden, some may be wondering why I’m not suggesting voting for a third party or not voting at all. Especially since I live in New York, some might argue that I could do either without having an impact on the election.

The answer is that I am voting third party, as I will be voting for Biden on the Working Families Party line (a third party that exists in some states, including New York). I think that it is important for me to vote for Biden and I think it is important for third parties to have a voice as well—by voting for Biden on the Working Families Party line, it’s the best of both worlds as far as I am concerned.

I also never considered not voting. I never considered that for two reasons: first, because I was able to distinguish key differences between Trump and Biden on issues that matter to me; and second, because I want my voice to be heard on local elections too (even though all my seats locally are heavily Democratic overall).

So there’s my breakdown of how I judged between the two major party candidates, and how I decided to vote for Biden. While I’m not as enthusiastic about Biden as some people are, I’ve concluded that it’s the best choice out of all the choices presented to me in this election from the standpoint of addressing injustices. And, given the fact that Biden seems more willing than Trump to follow the science when it comes to COVID, it’s a choice that I hope will save some lives.

I will be interested to hear others’ thoughts on the election, though! Feel free to comment below.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this post are my opinions alone and does not represent an endorsement by any organization with which I am associated.


[1] I know many people have already voted. But this post is directed at those who have not already voted (or those who have but are curious to hear what I have to say).

[2] I am focusing on his past track record because I think looking at a track record of nearly five decades can be instructive in determining what sorts of issues he may stand for in the next 4-8 years—potentially even more instructive than looking at his platform.

[3] I am not going to use tons of space in this post talking about Trump. There are lots of posts on the internet talking about Trump’s negatives. Instead, I’m going to use space here to talk about some positive elements of Biden’s record, because it’s important not just to vote against someone, but for someone.

[4] https://www.congress.gov/bill/101st-congress/senate-bill/933/cosponsors?searchResultViewType=expanded

[5] https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/94/s6/summary

[6] https://www.justice.gov/humantrafficking/key-legislation

[7] It looks like the House version of the bill was the one that ultimately passed, if I am reading congress.gov correctly. Still, that does not take away from the fact that Biden introduced the 2008 reauthorization of this bill in the Senate: https://www.congress.gov/bill/110th-congress/senate-bill/3061/actions

[8] https://blindinjusticeblog.com/2017/12/19/slavery-exists-here/

[9] https://apnews.com/article/535e145ee67dd757660157be39d05d3f

[10] https://apnews.com/article/535e145ee67dd757660157be39d05d3f

[11] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/10/20/qanon-misinformation-derails-arizona-anti-trafficking-organizations/5993150002/

[12] https://blindinjusticeblog.com/2020/02/03/what-is-the-1994-crime-bill-and-why-is-it-so-controversial/

[13] https://www.thehotline.org/resources/a-snapshot-of-domestic-violence-during-covid-19/

[14] The most recent example of Biden’s imperfection on environmental issues is his tepid language when it comes to the future of fossil fuels. Biden has actually tried to backtrack from comments he made at the most recent debate about transitioning away from oil: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/biden-campaign-seeks-clarify-position-fossil-fuels-debate/story?id=73789793

[15] https://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/joe-biden

[16] https://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/bernie-sanders

[17] https://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/elizabeth-warren

[18] https://www.lcv.org/trumpyearone/

[19] https://blindinjusticeblog.com/2020/02/03/what-is-the-1994-crime-bill-and-why-is-it-so-controversial/

[20] NPR talked about said record in one of its pieces: https://www.npr.org/2020/10/14/920385802/biden-vows-to-ease-racial-divisions-heres-his-record

[21] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-biden/bidens-lgbtq-record-draws-scrutiny-at-iowa-presidential-forum-idUSKBN1W603A

[22] Hill alleged that then-Supreme Court Nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her. Biden, who was then Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time Thomas was going through the nomination process, was criticized for his handling of Hill’s allegations against Thomas. Read this USA Today article for more details on what happened: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/09/06/anita-hill-endorses-joe-biden/5735556002/

[23] https://www.politico.com/story/2012/05/obama-expected-to-speak-on-gay-marriage-076103

26 Replies to “How Issues of Injustice Influenced My Presidential Pick”

    1. Yeah, there are a number of third parties in the US. The Working Families Party is a third party that oftentimes supports the same party as the Democrats, but they sometimes have their own candidate. But they don’t just go along with everything the Democrats do either, so they are their own party.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Apparently dislike of candidates was at least one of the issues that resulted in a lot of people not voting in 2016: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/01/dislike-of-candidates-or-campaign-issues-was-most-common-reason-for-not-voting-in-2016/

      Hopefully, the fact that Biden is generally viewed as a likeable guy will help turnout. Apparently a recent poll conducted indicated that 66% of Americans (!) view Biden as likeable.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hello Brendan. I am a progressive and while Biden as a moderate center cooperate Democrat is not going to be as supportive of the causes I favor as I would like, he is far better on those causes than tRump and the Republicans. It is not just where the candidates start out on the issues one needs to consider but how far they can be moved left or right on them. Biden can be influenced to move to the left on issues far easier and further than tRump could. Biden will be harder to move right on issues than tRump will be. So while Biden is not my original choice, between him and tRump Biden is by far the preferred candidate and best choice for president. Remember that only Biden or tRump will win, only they have any chance of becoming president. So any vote not for Biden helps tRump. In the vote totals, even in deep blue Democratic states. This election we can not have distractions and the votes for Biden must be overwhelming in numbers high enough to blunt or stop the attempts to block the counting of ballots and throwing the election to the courts. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hmmm. Yeah, one of the arguments in a deep blue state like NY is that Biden has it in the bag anyway (an argument for voting third party). But after 2016, I don’t think anything should be taken for granted. Especially with the Supreme Court situation, I just don’t want to leave anything to chance. Period. Biden is not perfect, but is far better than the most likely alternative.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am glad to read that some of your important issues are mine as well. I believe that while no candidate is perfect I believe recognizing your mistakes and learning from them is a mark of an intelligent and empathetic person. I am also of the mind that we need a leader that is more statesman like, does not indulge in name calling and ridicule. Covid, racial injustice, the environment and the economy (not just the stock market) have all led me to Vote for Biden. Not voting is not an option and a protest vote is a vote for Trump, too much at stake.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I was having this discussion with family earlier today actually, about how I believe that no candidate is perfect. And Biden is not perfect. But it does really seem like he is willing to recognize mistakes and learn from them, which I too think is a good quality of anyone, not just a president.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This was very educational – I liked reading about what Biden has done to promoted disabled rights. The Americans with Disability Acts was a big deal for the disabled community. And it’s good to see that the candidate that you’re voting for shows true remorse through their actions.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the reply. Biden did more on disability rights than I realized. And Biden can show remorse for the past with his actions.

      In terms of politicians who’ve helped promote disability rights, you might be interested in Former Senator Tom Harkin. He authored ADA as well as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. One thing I didn’t know about Harkin: he delivered part of his introduction speech in sign language so that his deaf brother could understand.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very thorough discussion. Good job. I would just like to point out one thing about the Crime bill from the old days (me being from the old days myself). That crime bill was not aimed at locking up blacks as much as helping black families in our highly segregated nation. When that bill was passed gangs were terrorizing black neighborhoods. (We can argue about why the US government allowed that to happen in the first place). But the bill Biden supported was endorsed at the time by the Black Congressional Caucus. The goal was to try to make segregated neighborhoods safe. Context , especially for things done years ago, is important.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks for commenting, as well as for the historical insight Joseph. I didn’t realize that the bill was supported by the Congressional Black Caucus. I assume that wouldn’t have been the case if the CBC knew then what it (and a lot of us) know now. It goes to show that bills can have unintended negative consequences–something that sometimes happens.

      Like

  5. Hi;

    I’m responding to your “like” of my most recent Biden post, a reprint of a Michael McFaul article about what it was like to work with Biden and see him govern up close. McFaul, ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration, was greatly impressed.

    One note to add to the Anita Hill story in addition to Biden’s apology: Anita Hill said she was willing to work with him on issues of mutual concern.

    Biden wasn’t my first choice, but I think he’s ideally suited for this crucial time. And I recommend that anyone who hasn’t seen his speech at Gettysburg, “Battle for the Soul of the Nation,” check it out. It’s on my blog under that title, or you can Google it.

    Cheers,
    Annie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for replying.

      I noticed how McFaul was greatly impressed with Biden. I think it serves in stark contrast with the impression I get from most Trump administration employees, who seem to have to control Trump’s worst impulses.

      Thanks for your note about Anita Hill. I was aware that she has endorsed Biden, but I wasn’t aware of the details about her working with Biden on issues of mutual concern.

      Like

    1. You’re welcome. I think it’s important for people to not just vote against someone, but vote for someone. I am hoping that this post will help people see some of the reasons why one should vote for Biden, as opposed to just against Trump.

      Like

  6. Hey Brendan.
    Nice post. If you’re like me, you’ll be glad when this week is over and we (hopefully) have a clean result. Having spent most of the month on election posts, I’ll be very happy if I never have to write about Trump again.

    If you get a chance, please check out my new site that will be highlighting ethical products for people on budget. https://ethicalbargains.org/
    Thanks!
    J

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll keep both sites going. My posts on https://greenstarsproject.org/ usually take a while to write and are more in-depth. I’m hoping that Ethical Bargains will allow me to write in a more casual and fluid way, with each post looking at one product, in terms of social and environmental impact. Thanks for following!

        Liked by 1 person

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