Why Progressives Should Be Ecstatic to Vote for Joe Biden

6 mins read

Ever since Joe Biden locked up the Democratic Party’s nomination in April, various Bernie Sanders surrogates and supporters have been vocal in their attitudes towards the former vice president. Supporters such as Nina Turner, Briahna Joy Gray, Ryan Knight, and Dr. Cornel West have been lukewarm at best to Biden and divisive at worst, spouting many unwarranted criticisms that serve to divide the party rather than pushing Biden’s platform in a more progressive direction.

While overall, Sanders supporters are on board with voting for Biden, unwarranted lack of enthusiasm for Biden within Sanders’s base could help reelect Donald Trump. The criticism espoused by Sanders supporters in regards to Biden has largely been unwarranted. As someone who voted for Sanders in the 2020 Democratic primary, I feel it’s my duty to point out that Biden, in fact, would be the most progressive president in history since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Biden doesn’t support Medicare for All, admittedly a disappointment, but he does back a public option, or a “buy-in” public health care option that would effectively test the waters for a single-payer healthcare system. While not establishing single-payer healthcare itself, Biden’s public option would provide the administrative structure of a public healthcare option that can win support from moderates and conservatives who would otherwise be skeptical. It would lay the groundwork for improvements that can be made to our healthcare system and, at the same time, will insure those who have been left out under the current system. Biden’s plan is a vast improvement over what we have now, one that views affordable healthcare as a right, and it’s a framework that progressives should be delighted to work with.

It isn’t just healthcare though. Biden wants to eliminate the death penalty, eliminate mandatory minimum sentences, decriminalize cannabis, establish an independent task force on prosecutorial discretion, and end cash bail. Simply put, Biden wants to reform the criminal justice system to stop putting black and brown bodies in prison for nonviolent offenses and misdemeanors, while ensuring that criminal prosecutions are equitable. Maybe this plan doesn’t excite progressives and leftists the way that chanting “defund the police” does, but it will radically change the criminal justice system and, undoubtedly, reduce the number of innocent and nonviolent people of color that we put in prison. As progressives, we should be applauding Biden for embracing policies that will improve the lives of others. Sure, they won’t solve institutional racism in our criminal justice system but that is an inherently long battle. Biden’s policies will certainly help us dismantle such racism, however, and pave the way for progressives to continue the fight.

And it doesn’t stop there. Biden has embraced the Green New Deal as a “framework” for environmental policy, proposing a 100 percent clean economy by 2050, ensuring the United States rejoins the Paris Climate Accord, and aiming to conserve nearly a third of America’s land and waters by 2030. After four years of Trump’s disastrous environmental policies, we need decisiveness, and Biden’s willingness to use the Green New Deal as an infrastructure for his climate plan makes it that much more of a possibility if Democrats take Congress. Not unlike healthcare, Biden would lay an administrative groundwork for climate policy that can be built upon to push for more ambitious, progressive policies. The planet is in crisis, and progressives should embrace any steps towards a clean economy. Trump, if reelected, would delay such progress by years, maybe even decades, and cost us the precious time we need to act on climate change. Biden’s policies aren’t the destination but they’re definitely a starting point.

This isn’t by any means a thorough list of Biden’s progressive policies and stances. If you have the time, I implore you to look through his site here. To identify as a progressive and to deny the fact that Biden’s policies would improve the lives of all Americans is rather contradictory. The whole meaning of Sanders’s campaign in 2020 was built on the “Not Me. Us” mantra, and using this frame of mind, we can easily conclude that Biden is looking out for us and that his policies would improve all of our lives collectively. He would provide progressives a groundwork to build upon in future administrations and provide some meaningful, radical changes from within his own. Bearing all this in mind, Sanders supporters recuperating from a hard-fought primary have plenty of reasons to be excited about Biden’s candidacy.


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