Joe Biden Isn’t the Candidate of Unity

The attendance of prominent Republicans such as John Kasich and Colin Powell at last week’s Democratic National Convention leads many to suggest that Joe Biden presents a compromise candidate. He’s not.

Photo by René DeAnda on Unsplash

After decades of what may have been the most polarizing political seasons yet, recent campaigns have tried to present candidates as ones that many can agree to support. And because of the abysmal voter polarization from our last election season, it’s not surprising that a compromise candidate is what people are looking for.

Neither Joe Biden nor Donald Trump is that candidate.

That’s definitely not to say that Joe Biden doesn’t have Republican supporters; he’s definitely developed his campaign to reflect the wrongdoing of the current administration rather than to frame the advancements of his own. It’s just that the nature of his policies prevent Trump Republicans from last election, even those unhappy with the president, from coming across the aisle.

Republicans Do Support Joe Biden

There are a couple of reasons why certain Republicans seem to adamantly support Biden’s campaign. Take John Kasich, for example. As one of the last competitors in the 2016 Republican primary, Kasich has been a fierce critic of the president throughout his term. But taking it to another level, Kasich endorsed Joe Biden during the last week’s convention.

While the President and his supporters amount this to Kasich being a sore loser, it goes to show that some Republicans are willing to put aside their partisan beliefs for what they believe to be a better candidate. But I think there’s more to that story.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

It’s not that Biden is good for his own policies. It’s that his policies are better than Trump’s.

Many anti-Trump Republicans believe that our current president has given the party a bad name. Given recent polling data, they’re not exactly wrong. But one of the main themes behind Biden’s support among Democrats rests with one idea: he’s not Donald Trump. According to a recent CBS News poll, the most important reason for supporting Joe Biden was “mainly to oppose Donald Trump.” A portion of moderate Republicans identify with this idea.

And this isn’t just political banter. Top Republican national security officials came out in a letter the night before Joe Biden’s nomination speech. Here’s what the former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff said:

“And even though I’m not a Democrat, even though I disagree on key issues, I’m confident that Joe Biden will protect the country, and I’m confident he won’t make the same mistakes as this president” — Miles Taylor

It’s fact that a portion of Republicans, however small or large of a group they are, aren’t happy with the way the President has used his first term. They’ve made it their goal to prevent a second.

Joe Biden Isn’t a Moderate

The problem with the Democrats’ idealistic view of bringing the country together around Joe Biden is that he’s not a moderate. In fact, despite criticisms during the primaries for Biden being “too moderate,” his policies retain a progressive core. For instance, take a look at a couple of these ideas:

  • Joe Biden supports free college; in fact, he’s championed it since Obama’s second term.
  • He supports raising the minimum wage and tripling the child tax credit.
  • He aims to make it easier for workers to appeal to their employers to close the wage gap.

Each of these policies, although not the universal healthcare of, say, Bernie Sanders, suggests that Biden still presents a vision of moving forward. It’s not that Biden has shifted to become more moderate; it’s that the Democratic party has become more liberal.

The characterization of the Democrats as the party for elitists doesn’t help Biden; for the independent worker struggling to pay rent, partisan politics couldn’t matter less. The side that promises reform from the bottom up gets the vote.

My Take

It’s probably for this progressiveness that Republicans who can’t find it in themselves to support the president have trouble voting for Biden. For those digging deep into the policy, Biden is the exact opposite of who traditional Republicans want in office.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for Biden. In my opinion, Donald Trump polarizes this country far more than Joe Biden ever would. But efforts by the Democratic Party to position Joe Biden as a moderate candidate that both Republicans and Democrats can agree on aren’t legitimate.

I will say this in favor of the former vice president: he presents an old-fashioned view of politics. One of the things Biden hopes for if he wins the election is for a system of bipartisanship, a country without partisan gridlock. In this environment of division, that’s something a lot of voters are hoping for.

Politicians today can’t recognize a bipartisan government that works smoothly; bringing the country out of this phase of division couldn’t ever be more important.

Obviously, this presents a challenge for the Biden campaign, trying to reach out to more conservative moderates and independents. That’s probably why they had John Kasich come to the convention in the first place. And sure, Biden may be able to convince a couple that he’s going to combine bipartisan politics with a pinch of liberal ideology. But that’s not enough for the Democrats to call him the candidate of unity.

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News and ideas worthy of discourse. Fundamentally informative and intelligently analytical.

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Yash Rajpal

Yash Rajpal

Teen writer. Plain and simple.

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