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Biden Officially Enters 2020 Presidential Race

Vice President Joe Biden talks to troops on his visit to Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, May 21, 2009. Biden met with soldiers to shake hands and take time to pose for pictures. U.S. Army photo by Specialist Darriel Swatts
Vice President Joe Biden talks to troops on his visit to Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, May 21, 2009. Biden met with soldiers to shake hands and take time to pose for pictures. U.S. Army photo by Specialist Darriel Swatts

Joe Biden may not be the favorites of leading progressives but he still has a huge popularity rating and is working to amend past mistakes.

Joe Biden entered the Democratic primary Thursday, leading the polls as a frontrunner and enjoying positive favorability ratings from most Americans.

This marks the former Vice President’s third run for presidency. To supporters, his extensive experience is his strongest asset, but to detractors, his history is plagued by liabilities that make him out-of-touch with progressives.

Is Joe Biden Progressive?

Top progressive group Justice Democrats released an opposition statement following Biden’s entrance to the race, explaining their position:

“The old guard of the Democratic Party failed to stop Trump, and they can’t be counted on to lead the fight against his divide-and-conquer politics today. The party needs new leadership with a bold vision capable of energizing voters in the Democratic base who stayed home in 2016.

Democrats are increasingly uniting around progressive populist policies like Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, free college, rejecting corporate money, and ending mass incarceration and deportation. We don’t need someone who voted for the Iraq War, for mass incarceration, and for the Bankruptcy Reform Act while voting against gay marriage, reproductive rights, and school desegregation.”

While Biden was the first lawmaker to introduce a bill on climate change in 1986, his record on criminal justice is blamed for contributing to the War on Drugs and institutionalized racism. Biden was the coauthor of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, well known for its vast disparity in penalties for crack and white cocaine users. Since crack is more commonly used by black Americans, the bill has been held responsible for fueling racial disparities in prisons. Biden also co-wrote the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which increased funding for prisons and imposed harsher measures on convicts.

The former Vice President spoke earlier this year on criminal justice, saying “I haven’t always been right. I know we haven’t always gotten things right, but I’ve always tried.”

Biden has made progressive statements on free college tuition and restructuring American capitalism, although his stance on healthcare is unclear. He has been one of the most vocal supporters of the Affordable Care Act, but has yet to endorse Medicare for All or any specific version of universal healthcare.

Biden has recently received criticism for inappropriately touching women and his role in the Anita Hill hearing.

Biden Vs Trump

Biden made his opening announcement exclusively about the urgency of defeating President Trump. Analysts see Biden seeking to forge an image as an experienced pragmatist, contrasting himself with more progressive rivals. Supporters believe his relative centrism makes him best equipped to beat the president.

The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin argues that despite Biden’s weaknesses, he “holds a unique place right now in American politics”:

“The grand old man of the party, the dignified father who has twice had to bury children, the right-hand man for the popular ex-president, the friend of labor and the gregarious uncle who’s always going to ask how things are going and, yes, give you a hug when you are feeling down.”

President Trump welcomed Biden to the primary on Thursday, labeling his competitor “Sleepy Joe.”

“Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe. I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign. It will be nasty – you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick & demented ideas. But if you make it, I will see you at the Starting Gate!”

The former Vice President has an acrimonious relationship with President Trump, once commenting, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.'”

The president tweeted his prediction that Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders will be the final contenders in the Democratic primary.

“I believe it will be Crazy Bernie Sanders vs. Sleepy Joe Biden as the two finalists to run against maybe the best Economy in the history of our Country (and MANY other great things)! I look forward to facing whoever it may be. May God Rest Their Soul!”

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a freelance writer with a Master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and Latin America to gain firsthand insight in some of the world’s most troubled areas, and he plans on publishing his first book in 2019.

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