Why I voted for Joe Biden

For the first time, I have voted for a Democrat for President.

In doing so, I cast my vote more for the party than for the candidate. Joe Biden was not my first, second, third, or fourth choice in the primary contest. I will not pretend that voting for Biden is exciting, compelling, or particularly virtuous. But he is a competent representative of the values of the Democratic party, which I have supported in local and state level contests for some time.

As an Iowan, my vote has considerable weight. Iowa is one of the perennial swing states, and the only state which pollsters correctly and consistently predicted would switch from Obama to Trump in 2016. Four years later, it has a real chance of flipping back.

On top of the very competitive Presidential race, Iowa is home to a competitive Senate race (over $13 million has been spent on the Iowa senate seat alone) and three competitive House races. But this is nothing new to Iowans, who are used to their airwaves being saturated by political ads.

Though much of the advertising is of an attacking nature, there are a couple stand-out positive messages: increased access to healthcare, and, on a more intangible note, the tenor and reputation of our highest political offices. On the former, the top of the Democratic ticket is not as ambitious as many Iowans might want. It does not look like Iowans will be free from the grip of insurance monopolies anytime soon. But on the other, there is no question that Theresa Greenfield and Joe Biden are the best exemplars of American values.

And on both counts, the Democratic Party has been the only reliable source of competence and positive change in recent years. This is not to say it is faultless. Many of the things we deride about Trump and his administration – such as mass deportations, neoliberal economics, an empowered health insurance lobby, and corporate welfare – have been enabled and supported by Democrats of the past. I do not pretend that positive change will be immediate or fast. But Joe Biden has cast himself as a listener. I hope that he will listen to the burgeoning voices, not only in his party, but across the country, calling for a rediscovery of social democracy in the US. Americans living in America deserve fair access to healthcare, a comprehensive liberal education, and a positive conversation on minority rights – things many Europeans take for granted.

On a more personal note, I am also particularly struck by the resurgence of racial extremism. The United States – even in quiet, polite Iowa – is now host to a right-wing white nationalist movement, the likes of which has not been seen in my lifetime. Unhelpfully, the current President is a confessed nationalist and consistently panders to white supremacists. Joe Biden has struggled with race issues in the past. However, Biden is not a white supremacist, or someone who entertains racists; he is a person who believes that all people are created equal. One may think these are matters of basic humanity and the bare minimum required for a presidential candidate. It is unfortunate that we even need to ask such questions.

When I last lived in Iowa, I lived in one of Iowa’s few black-plurality neighbourhoods, and worked for a Latin American newspaper which was owned by a first-generation immigrant. It is striking how the conversation has changed among my former neighbours and colleagues. In the 2008 contest of Barack Obama vs John McCain, Iowans faced a choice between an exciting candidate who would break cultural barriers, running on a ticket of hope and change, and a less exciting candidate running on a ticket of staying the course and steadying the ship. The difference was palpable, but it was not abstract. In supporting John McCain, I disagreed with many of my friends, but I was not betraying them.

A vote for Trump, in contrast, would be a betrayal. In the four years of Trump’s administration, the racial conversation has toxified, and the President appears to revel in that toxicity. Along with my old boss, I have left the Republican party behind – and it is difficult to see if Iowa’s culturally liberal professionals will ever come back.

The America I love is a nation of fundamental equality, liberty, and fairness. Joe Biden is not the perfect exemplar of such values, but he will get us back on track.

Em Dean is a British / American dual citizen and a former politics reporter who covered the 2008 Presidential Election on the ground in the Midwest US. They are a member of Harrow Liberal Democrats.

* Em Dean is a British / American dual citizen and a former politics reporter who covered the 2008 Presidential Election on the ground in the Midwest US. They are a member of Harrow Liberal Democrats.

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11 Comments

  • Iowa has moved definite Republican (Des Moins Register poll this morning). Looks now as if Trump will hold Arizona and Florida, Goergia and Texas have not really been in doubt, North Carolina is a toss up, probably Republican. Democrats will hopefully gain Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvannia plus the extra seat in Maine, maybe one in Nebraska (the PR voting method). That gives them 272/ 273, Republcans 267/ 268 in the College, (what a crazy system by the way). Trump will tgo to the Supreme Court, the result will be overturned, then there will be general chaos, probably Congress suspended by Presidential decree.
    Heaven helps us all after that. US forces pulled out of Europe with all that that portends.

  • Theakes

    N Carolina looks more likely Biden than Trump although it is far from sure. However, the voter suppression campaign seems to be well underway in swing states, with republicans already taking action in the courts, so the polls may count for nothing. I hope it is not as bad as some reports suggest – things do get exaggerated but the USA has a history on this.

  • Peter Martin 1st Nov '20 - 1:04pm

    @Theakes,

    You really should know better than to get involved in this kind of “Heaven helps us all” negative speculation.

    My expectation is that predictions of “general chaos” will be well wide of the mark and the Americans will decide on their next President as they always do. In which case you’ll look pretty silly! But I could be wrong. It’s an expectation not a prediction. Let’s just wait a couple of days and see what happens.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 1st Nov '20 - 1:37pm

    Em this is fine.

    Biden is an example of much good. The Democrats are no better or worse than this good man.

    Glad that someone as fair as you Em can be keen on the late and in much, admirable McCain, and be in our party. A mainstream party is what ours needs to become more, not politically always pandering to the left only.

    There was much good once in US politics and Uk from the centre right. I say this as one who is married to a wife from the US until she came here in her post student years. I love that country but its left right divide is now extremist in its approach. Ous is less so, but worryingly moving that way.

    I get fed up with decrying in this party, the centre ground. It is not there, or a little left or right of it, the disaster happened. It is to the farther extremes and the complacency regarding it.

  • Alex Macfie 1st Nov '20 - 1:39pm

    Many votes have been cast already, and the early voting is likely to favour the Democrats. This automatically limits any effect voter suppression may have. It also limits the pool of voters whose minds can be changed, so a late swing to Trump will also have a limited effect.
    Even if Trump does succeed in overturning the election result (unlikely IMO) his term in office still ends on 20 January 2021. That date is set in stone, short of a change to the Constitution (which is practically impossible as it would require supermajorities in both Houses of Congress). And if there is no President-elect by that date, then the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, will become President.

  • John Marriott 1st Nov '20 - 2:10pm

    @theakes
    What a dystopian view you paint. I grant you that nobody knows what will happen in such a cockeyed system.
    @ Peter Martin
    Oh to have your certainty. That said, I just hope you’re right about things turning out alright. By ‘alright’ I mean Trump goes as does the Republican Party majority on the Senate.

  • As usual, agree with John Marriott about the opinion of our friend Theakes (member for Dystopia).

    Watched CNN coverage of the election this morning which reported :

    a) A lot more women than men had already voted.
    b) Women in the exit polls had so far voted 61% Biden 37% Trump (Trump just shaded a female majority last time).

    And…. if the Democrats also get a majority in the House and the Senate, then Trump can just go whistle.

  • Paul Barker 1st Nov '20 - 3:27pm

    The Economist model gives Trump a 4% chance of winning, the 538 one 10%, the difference is because the former include Early-Voting statistics & the latter dont.

    Trumps encouragement of Violence could backfire if it scares Voters away on Tuesday, most Democrats have already voted. In Texas the turnout is already higher than 2016, itself high by US standards.

  • John Marriott 1st Nov '20 - 3:56pm

    According to BBC News a car convoy of Trump supporters stopped a Democrat bus going to a rally in Texas, which was subsequently cancelled. When he heard what happened, Trump was alleged to have said; “I love Texas”. Is this a sign of things to come?

  • It’s not ‘alleged’, John. I saw him say it on CNN. My big worry is he’s inciting post election violence. Put’s ‘Nasty piece of work’, Boris in the shade.

  • David Evershed 3rd Nov '20 - 4:50pm

    “Em Dean is a British / American dual citizen and a former politics reporter who covered the 2008 Presidential Election on the ground in the Midwest US. They are a member of Harrow Liberal Democrats. ”

    Is Em Royalty?

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