Who said Joe Biden can’t make news?
While closing an interview early Friday morning with Breakfast Club host Charlamagne tha God, the former Vice President offered up an interesting quote.
.@JoeBiden telling a black person this morning the following:
"If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black."
— Eoin Higgins (@EoinHiggins_) May 22, 2020
The clip immediately went viral, shocking some viewers and pleasing others. Some agreed with Biden, saying that anyone who votes for Trump doesn’t have African Americans’ (or any racial minorities’) interests at heart.
For others, though, it represented more of the same dismissive rhetoric that has defined Biden’s campaign and mirrors Democrats’ attitudes toward black voters for decades.
Tying one’s racial or ethnic identity to the way they vote is controversial enough. Biden’s framing here is almost aggressively dismissive. Black voters essentially delivered him the nomination and are one of the Democratic Party’s most important constituencies year after year. But since Trump is so uniquely terrible, Biden doesn’t actually have to offer anything substantial to win them over. If black voters don’t vote for him, they clearly don’t have their own interests at heart and lose their credibility as black people. The Democratic Party establishment has taken black voters for granted for decades, and even Biden’s tongue-in-cheek delivery reveals how ingrained that sentiment is.
Biden’s joking quote is the distilled version of the “lesser-of-two-evils” worldview. It’s an awfully convenient way for a politician (and party) to offer absolutely nothing to its voters and still shame you into electing them. Biden likely won’t face a ton of backlash for the clip, and if he does, legacy media will be quick to defend him. The same sentiment is true of other voting demographics, too—Latinos, women, young voters. If they don’t vote Biden they must not really care, even if he hasn’t done or said anything to earn their vote besides being Not Trump. When shame campaigning, the onus always falls to the voter, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or age, to make the responsible choice—not the politician to give them any good reason to do so.