The myth of moderate Joe belies his hardline agenda throughout a near-half century of public life as US senator and vice president.
Along with most others on both sides of the aisle, his political record shows full support for endless wars, Wall Street and other corporate handouts, the prison industrial complex, neoliberal harshness, and other policies serving privileged interests exclusively at the expense of vitally needed beneficial social change.
In the 1970s, Senator Edward Brooke, the body’s first African/American, called a racist amendment Biden supported “the greatest symbolic defeat for civil rights since 1964.”
At the time, the Washington Post denounced it as “denying the possibility for equal educational opportunities to minority youngsters trapped in ill-equipped inner-city schools.”
In 1975, Biden said
“I do not buy the concept, popular in the 60s, which said ‘(w)e have suppressed the black man for 300 years, and the white man is now far ahead in the race for everything our society offers,” adding:
“In order to even the score, we must now give the black man a head start, or even hold the white man back, to even the race.’ I don’t buy that.”
In the 1980s, Biden supported harsh anti-drug legislation that led to mass incarceration of Blacks and Latinos.
An unnamed Biden Senate staffer said
“(w)henever people hear the words ‘drugs’ and ‘crime,’ I want them to think ‘Joe Biden,’ ” adding:
His team “had to think up excuses for new hearings on drugs and crime every week—any connection, no matter how remote. He wanted cops at every public meeting—you’d have thought he was running for chief of police.”
Biden supported the 1984 Comprehensive Crime Control Act — abolishing parole for federal prisoners, reducing how much time could be eliminated for good behavior.
He backed the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act and follow-up legislation two years later — imposing mandatory sentences for illicit drug possession.
In 1989, he criticized a punitive anti-drug plan by President GHW Bush for not being tough enough.
Since initiated nearly half a century ago, the so-called war on drugs has been and continues to be a war on the nation’s most disadvantaged, especially people of color — to feed what became a burgeoning prison industry.
In his groundbreaking “Race to Incarcerate” book, Marc Mauer focused on America’s obsession with mass incarceration and the commodification of prisoners to fill beds for profit.
Society’s most vulnerable are oppressed, targeted for supporting ethnic justice, racial emancipation, along with political, economic and social equality across gender and color lines.
Countless others are victimized by America’s racist drug laws, unrelated to public safety. People of color and ethnic minorities comprise 75% of individuals imprisoned for illicit drug related charges.
Mandatory minimum sentences exacerbate the problem. So do other racist policies, including judicial unfairness, three strikes and you’re out, get tough on crime policies, and a guilty unless proved innocent mentality.
In the 1990s, Biden supported more draconian laws, including capital punishment for more offenses.
He backed the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act — largely targeting people of color.
Instead of supporting equity and justice under law, policies Biden backed opposed these principles.
In 1993, he warned of “predators on our streets,” meaning Blacks and Latinos, adding:
“It doesn’t matter whether or not they had no background that enabled them to become socialized into the fabric of society.”
“It doesn’t matter whether or not they’re the victims of society. The end result is they’re about to knock my mother on the head with a lead pipe, shoot my sister, beat up my wife, take on my sons.”
In 1974, a year after becoming US senator from Delaware, Biden slammed the landmark Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling (1973), affirming a pregnant woman’s right to an abortion unobstructed by excessive federal or state restrictions, saying:
“I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.”
He supported the Hyde Amendment (1997) that prohibited federal funding for abortions and sponsored the Biden Amendment — banning use of foreign aid for abortion research.
Throughout his public life, he’s been an anti-populist/law and order hardliner — polar opposite the lunch bucket/middle class Joe image he and his handlers try to portray.
As Judiciary Committee chairman in 1991, he prevented testimonies from key witnesses, corroborating Anita Hill’s accusations of sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings — letting a supremely unqualified right-wing extremist join the High Court, spurning justice instead of affirming it.
Endorsing super-wealth, he once said “I don’t think five hundred billionaires are the reason we’re in trouble. The folks at the top aren’t bad guys.”
For 1973 – 2009, Biden represented Delaware in the Senate, the state home to over one million business enterprises (over half the US total) because of its “business-friendly government.”
His priority was and remains serving corporate and other privileged interests over the public welfare — why Dem party bosses consider him safe.
He supported the corporate-friendly/anti-consumer 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act.
It notably made federal and private student loan indebtedness non-dischargeable, debt bondage relief through bankruptcy unattainable.
In 1999, he backed Gramm-Leach-Bliley legislation, repealing Glass-Steagall that separated commercial from investment banks and insurers, among other provisions curbing speculation.
He supported the 2000 Commodities Futures Modernization Act.
Legitimizing “swap agreements” and other “hybrid instruments,” it prevented regulatory oversight of derivatives and leveraging — permitting Wall Street to operate like a casino, by its own rules unobstructed, creating the 2008-09 financial crisis and current market turmoil.
Dem party bosses favor Biden over Sanders as standard bearer in November.
Despite polls projecting Sanders to win 8 of 14 Super Tuesday states on March 3, he only won four, notably losing Texas despite a near 9-point lead in pre-election polls.
Will things be manipulated for Biden again on mini-Super Tuesday March 10 with 352 delegates from six states to be chosen?
Is the race for Dem standard bearer effectively over, Dems for Biden shutting out Sanders, a repeat of 2016?
If it’s Biden v. Trump in November, two uncompromising establishment figures, the choice for voters will amount to death by hanging or firing squad.
Dirty business as usual will win like virtually always before — the rights and welfare of ordinary Americans left unrepresented in the White House and Congress no matter which right wing of duopoly rule runs things.
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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.