On the day Joe Biden announced his bid for the presidency, I knew where to look in order to best gauge how seriously I should fear the former vice president finding a way to actually win the nomination.
It was not the Morning Joe crew on MSNBC. Given that I wake up to that show every morning, I knew their response would be to anoint him as the likely savior from a disaster they helped create by giving it so much airtime in 2016 (disclaimer: I’d still go on the show, no shade). Likewise, I didn’t bother looking in the direction of any pollster because it was April 2019, so it only mattered so much.
Instead, I looked somewhere I knew would offer a more realistic outlook on just how strong a shot Joe-Joe has at giving me a headache throughout 2020 and maybe beyond but I highly doubt it: Facebook.
It was there the nightmare stood before me: a bunch of old Black people celebrating Biden’s announcement. That’s how I knew I was screwed. Yes, it is anecdotal, but helpful all the same. White people are going to be divided by their new favorite gay man, their new favorite Kennedy supplement, their potential new imaginary Black friend if she doesn’t spook them (they scare easily when it comes to us, see all those police calls), and if they’re really feeling daring, perhaps their wonky pal who keeps dropping policy proposals like mixtapes. But as it stands now, most appear to be mainly torn between the white old white men sucking up the airwaves.
So, it’s the Black vote that will be most determinative of the outcome of the next Democratic presidential primary, and more specifically, old Black people. As it so often is. Therein lies the problem: old Black people love the hell out of Joe Biden.
It’s the focus of the recent New York Times piece “Joe Biden Has Support From Older Black Voters. Is It Enough?”
In it, reporter Astead W. Herndon trolls my life by quoting a bunch of Black elders fawning over Obama.
“He was with President Obama and you know what that means, he has a head start in my book,” 58-year-old Barbara Cain Seabrook explained. “I think he has the community at heart.” As Herndon went on to note, Ms. Seabrook said “there was nothing more Mr. Biden needed to do to earn her vote — not a policy agenda, or a campaign visit, or good performances in the Democratic debates.” All because he served with former President Obama, “in a bonus, she said, he seemed to clap on beat to the music.”
I want someone to clap over the sound of my present screams. Ms. Seabrook’s sentiments flooded my Facebook feed as so many old teachers, former colleagues, and parents of lifelong friends that easily found me because of my last name expressed similar views.
As for the more controversial aspects of Biden’s background like the crime bill, his treatment of Anita Hill, and so on, there are signs that many Blacks who can recall Patti LaBelle’s original nose will swiftly dismiss it.
“Everybody makes mistakes,” Kenneth Webb, a 73-year-old black South Carolina resident who attended a Biden rally in Columbia, told Herndon. “This is South Carolina. We’ve seen people like Strom Thurmond and Fritz Hollings change their views. This isn’t anything new to us.”
In an interview with Charleston’s Post and Courier, Biden said: “When Barack and I worked together, we spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to change the systemic racism that exists and continue to work on that. So I think the African-American community nationwide knows who I am. I’m not saying the others aren’t qualified, I’m just saying I’ve been there.”
Did they really? Where? Total, help me sing, and Siri or her equally nosy friend Alexa, help me understand. Meanwhile, “Uncle Joe” that ain’t no kin to me sure sounds confident, doesn’t he? If you don’t have Febreze to remove the stench of white male hubris permeating that quote, my condolences.
For those of us who do not want Joe Biden to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2020, all hope is not lost. Hillary Clinton had a double digit lead over Barack Obama in Black voter support well into fall 2007. We see how that ended for her, bless her heart. I have seen pundits dismiss such points, but that’s more indicative of their banality-driven approach to political commentary than a more grounded reflection on a potential outcome.
Joe Biden is Joe Biden, so there is always reason to believe he will screw it all up. Unfortunately, I cannot place too much faith in any sector of the electorate because an ignorant buffoon has somehow managed to not only win a presidential election, but has somehow managed to derail a two century-plus old republic solely on the strength of a pathological level of shamelessness. That buffoon in question is what partially drives his current support, but unless one key constituency can be convinced to look past his association with history and look elsewhere to best benefit the future, we’re doomed with the gaffe magnet in Delaware who’s yet to ever run a good presidential campaign.
So, I have a plea for all of the younger Black people reading. Can you please, please, please try to convince your parents, mee-maws, pa-pas, aunties and uncles to please do not vote for Joe Biden?
We have to teach them how to say Kamala Harris’ name. We have to explain to them what a Pete Buttigeg is, and while they’re probably not going to vote for it, they should give Julián Castro a strong look (note to them that a Black woman is his campaign manager). Also, please help them find out about all 12 million of Elizabeth Warren’s policy proposals — including the one that will let them off the hook if they co-signed any of your student loans besides strong misgivings (guilty). Jay Inslee isn’t really a thing, but he doesn’t want us all to die thanks to climate change, so that’s helpful. Same for Beto, who should be introduced as a white boy who at least knows there are perks to being a white boy in America. I don’t fancy people who throw binders at others, but you know, if you want to talk about Amy Klobuchar, good luck with that. Same for Cory Booker, the love machine.
You get the point: ask them to consider other candidates with policy proposals that don’t sound totally drowned in 1990s nostalgia for austerity and Black suffering and have more of a shot at winning than the lily white, don’t access Black folks outside of blocking them on Twitter or confusing them with rappers their kids talk about at the airport. If not for yourself, for me, beloveds.
We must respect our elders, but we also have to remember that they’re going to go to glory before we do and it’s not fair that we have might to suffer through more years of Joe Biden when the decades he’s served in office have been long enough.
Yes, I, too, worry that if I push an elder too hard, I may find myself hit with a pocketbook and a Crown Royal bag full of change, but I’m more concerned about having to deal with Joe Biden as a general election candidate.