Look, I’m voting for Joe Biden. I get why white racists and millionaires—and people who stand at the intersection of those two groups—are all-in for Donald Trump, but for the rest of us, self-preservation dictates that Biden is the better choice. Thursday night’s dueling presidential town halls, which featured a belligerent Trump and a comparatively contemplative Biden, drove that all the way home. If I believed, at this late stage, that “undecided voters” were real, and not people with made-up minds in desperate need of attention, I cannot imagine how the contrast could have been any starker or the decision clearer.
That said, tonight’s event also reaffirmed how desperately we will need to hold Biden’s feet to the fire if he wins this thing. Again and again, the former Vice President’s answers highlighted political points where he not only needs to be shoved, hard, leftward, but also just to do better.
I literally winced when Biden responded to a question about what he would say, besides “you ain’t Black,” to “young Black voters who see voting for you as further participation in a system that continues to not protect them?” There were a lot of places to start that answer (an apology and acknowledgement of what a bad idea it was to declare “you ain’t Black” would have been an obvious choice). Instead, Biden decided to talk about criminal justice—obviously, a particularly salient discussion we’re all having right now—but also a reminder that politicians, especially old white guys, seem to think that conversations about race (read: Black people) always relate to crime. He went on to rattle off a bunch of policies to address the racial wealth gap, but it was clear he had no idea how to talk to a young Black progressive voter about issues that might interest him (environmental racism, college debt forgiveness, for example).