A couple of weeks ago, I had coffee with a former elected official. In between catching up and reminiscing about his time in office, he asked me what I thought about the upcoming presidential election. I gave the answer I normally do, "We have a great set of candidates, and I hope the party can come together to defeat Trump in the general election."
Much to my surprise, my mentor said, with a bit of frustration in his aging voice, "You young people love Bernie. I'm assuming you're supporting him or Warren? What do you and the young people think about Mayor Pete? He is young just like you. I like him."
I wasn't quite sure how to answer that question. "You young people" was off-putting. Even before sharing my views, he placed me into a broad category where I really only had two options: Warren or Sanders. Even more distributing was the assumption young people should like Mayor Pete because he is young. Is "being young" a valid reason for me to support his candidacy?
As someone who prides herself on uplifting the voices of young people and being an advocate for diverse representation, why was I struggling to answer this question? I knew who I was supporting. All I had to do was say it. Would it be easier if I said I was supporting Sen. Sanders, Sen. Warren, or Mayor Buttigieg to be with the "in" crowd?
That evening, I thought more about the assumption "young people vote for progressive Democrats." I consider myself a young progressive and lifelong Democrat too. I'm not afraid to say my policies align most with Sen. Warren. I'm pro-choice. I believe in raising taxes on the wealthy, supporting free college, and advocating for the reduction of student loan debt.
However, despite my political leanings, I'm supporting Vice President Joe Biden for the 2020 election.
I wish I could feel more comfortable and confident openly showing (and expressing) my support for Joe Biden. I donated to his campaign and will continue to do behind-the-scenes volunteering before the primary. I will never post that on Facebook or Twitter. Why not? Ever since President Obama's time in office ended, young people have turned their backs on Biden. He is portrayed as senile, touchy, and, at least according to Woody Harrison's SNL impression, a little bit creepy.
I remember the days when millennials and Generation Z tweeted about the bromance between Joe and Barack, secretly wishing they too could have a friendship bracelet. People cried when Biden received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and even created memes before his last day in office to show appreciation for eight years of service.
Now, everything is different.
I'm not here to change young peoples' minds about who to vote for.
I am, however, here to share why I'm supporting Biden.
I know he is a strong leader who will make an incredible president. I'm also writing to explain being a young, progressive Democrat and who you support for president aren't mutually exclusive. I supported Clinton in 2016 and now Biden in 2020. This does not mean I don't like Sanders or Warren. Too often, not supporting someone gives the indication you don't like them.
To put it simply, I believe Joe Biden has the best shot of beating Trump in November.
Before we go pass progressive legislation and live in the Warren-Sanders utopia of free college and student loan forgiveness, we first need to get back to a place where people can work together for the sake of the country. Since 2016, our country has become exceedingly polarized. We need to be able to compromise and put the country back on track. Right now, Republicans are on one side with Democrats on another. What happened to the middle ground? We need someone who can appeal to large masses of people with very different views. I believe Biden is the best person for that job.
Being a moderate Democrat, Biden can win in the swing states.
Republicans who don't like Trump (and also don't feel confident with the progressive policies Warren and Sanders are advocating for) would most likely vote for Biden. Supporting Biden means supporting the Democratic party as it should be - a place where progressives, moderates, and even some-what leaning republicans feel like they have a home. Amy Klobuchar had it right during her campaign speech over the weekend — moderate Democrats need to have a home too.
One of the aspects that drew me to Biden from the start is his experience. He can go into the White House on day one and start repairing the damage of Trump's presidency. Biden doesn't need time to learn the ropes. He has been there before, making difficult decisions in life or death situations.
During his time as Delaware's Senator, Biden led the efforts to pass the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and the Violence Against Women Act. He might not have passed as many bills as Warren or other candidates during his time in the Senate, but he stood by what he believed in. Especially the case when it came to domestic violence and unfair treatment of women.
I believe foreign policy is often overlooked. Right now, the United States is struggling to be respected among other countries. Biden has strong relationships with all of the world leaders, and this advantage is going to be needed to get the United States on better footing with foreign policy. Like Clinton, Biden has been in the room with country's presidents and has already done the job for eight years during the Obama administration.
Sometimes, we want a president who, with a smile and nod, makes you feel like everything is going to be OK. Biden is personable and has charisma. For the people who think he is too touchy with children, he did lose two children and his first wife in a car crash. To be able to give back to the country in the way he has given all of the heartbreak and trauma is truly remarkable. If that reason isn't good enough, at least he hasn't been accused sexual assaulting and raping multiple women.
This next reason for my full support of Biden is more personal.
In 2008, I remember hitting the VOTE button with my mother to elect President Barack Obama. That single vote changed my life. I felt a part of a movement. Every vote literally does count. In 2016, I volunteered for Hillary Clinton's campaign. She has been my role model since I can remember because she showed me it was possible to run for something even when people don't think you can. Because of her journey, I ran for Pittsburgh Board of Education in 2019. While I ended up supporting another candidate, I will never forget how excited the campaign trial made me — being able to talk with communities about policies and how their visions for society can be implemented.
To me, Biden represents a part of my childhood where, no matter what was going on in the world, I was confident knowing the leader of the country knew what he was doing.
He represents a time when ethics and having a moral compass mattered. I'm supporting Biden because I believe he will be an excellent candidate and get us back on track. It is more than politics here — the future of our country is at stake.
I don't want to speak on behalf of Joe Biden, but I think he would support me when I say: no matter who the Democratic candidate is, we must support them. We must unite the party and get the current president out of office.