This Is Why I'm Reluctantly Voting For Joe Biden

by Sa'iyda Shabazz
Originally Published: 
Scary Mommy and Scott Olson/Getty

It’s amazing to me that there are still people who are “on the fence” about who to vote for. You have to wonder if these people have been living under a rock for the last four years. It’s mind boggling to me that people could want four more years of this absolute insanity. And yes, our Democratic option isn’t ideal, but holy hell is it better.

Of all the Democratic party candidates, Joe Biden isn’t who I was rooting for. But he’s who we got. So even though I’m not a big fan, I have no problem voting for him, however reluctantly. As much as I want more from our elected officials, sometimes you just have to take what you have.

I can safely say that Joe Biden wasn’t even in my top five Democratic candidate choices. (I was, and still am, a staunch Elizabeth Warren supporter.) He’s not as progressive as he should be, and in this day and age, that’s really important. We don’t need someone to uphold the status quo because the political status quo is how we got here — we need radical, sweeping change. It’s past time to move forward.

But without a leader willing to rock the boat, though we may make some progress with a Democrat in the White House, it won’t be the much-needed overhaul this country demands. There are far too many people who still want to uphold the status quo. Their lives are generally unaffected by all the systemic issues in this country, so they can willfully ignore those who are struggling. Or they’re just too afraid of the unknown to see that being “progressive” is the only way to establish an equitable, better America.

Sometimes, it seems that people forget that there’s life after the election. Is Biden really going to be the person who not only untangles the harm of the last four years, but also actively makes life better? For many of us, the answer is “meh.”

As a Black woman, one of my biggest concerns is how Biden will handle the issue of the police. With no shortage of evidence showing that the whole system needs a massive overhaul, is he going to do anything about it? He has a lot to answer for: he had a hand in writing the 1994 crime bill that led to mass incarceration. While his feelings on the subject may have changed, it’s something that’s an active part of his political legacy. After doing some research, his position on how to fix the broken system is utterly predictable. And even though it’s not surprising, it’s still disappointing. Even though I know Joe Biden has made it clear that defunding the police on a federal level isn’t something he’s even entertaining, it’s frustrating to know that we will likely not see major progress in our country’s deeply problematic, racist policing tactics anytime soon.

It’s not even just that Joe Biden doesn’t want to consider defunding the police. Oh no, he wants to give them more money. In an op-ed for USA Today from June, this is what he had to say: “I do not support defunding police. The better answer is to give police departments the resources they need to implement meaningful reforms, and to condition other federal dollars on completing those reforms.”

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This is one of my biggest issues with Biden as a candidate. He has to know that this isn’t the way forward. Of course since many Black people will automatically vote Democrat, they may not even realize what his plan is. However, those of us who are in the know can see how potentially dangerous this is. His plan is to invest $300 million into the system to add more cops and train them on “community-oriented” policies. While he is also proposing expanding access to mental health and substance abuse funding, it feels like too little, too late. Those should be the things receiving the extra $300 million. Adding more police isn’t going to make anyone safer in their neighborhoods. At this point, they should be listening to the communities most affected by police violence about how to move forward, but that’s not happening.

Although I’m reluctant about many of Biden’s policies, I will say I like his child care plan, which is much closer to the level of progressiveness we need to see. As a single parent, child care was one of the most prohibitive parts of my son’s first four years. The lack of affordable child care made it impossible for me to find high paying work. So I had to take lower-paying, but more flexible jobs to make ends meet. When it was time for preschool, I found our options to be minimal, even in an area with a lot of providers. Even with the financial contributions of other family members, I wouldn’t be able to afford a private preschool. And we live in Los Angeles where there isn’t universal Pre-K.

Thankfully my son is in elementary school now, but due to COVID-19, he’s learning virtually right now. The pandemic has really shone a light on the struggles of finding quality, affordable child care. And it seems that Biden and his team are going to create some positive solutions to those problems. His $775 billion plan covers things like more quality, affordable daycares, truly universal Pre-K and higher wages for care providers. According to the campaign, the money will be”paid for by rolling back unproductive and unequal tax breaks for real estate investors with incomes over $400,000 and taking steps to increase tax compliance for high-income earners.” This is a fair and equitable way to get these funds, and I support it.

“The pandemic has laid bare just how hard it is for people in this country to find access to quality caregiving they need for themselves, or to juggle the responsibilities of working and also caring for family members,” the Biden campaign website says. “Many parents are struggling to find child care while they go to their essential jobs, or find themselves as 24/7 caregivers trying to keep their children safe and learning while working remotely. Other parents are caring for their kids, while worrying about how they will make ends meet after having hours cut or losing their jobs.”

I really appreciate that his administration will put focus on childcare. Many of us parents don’t have the luxury of having a stay-at-home parent. And a lot of us don’t have family or friends nearby to help fill in the gaps. Providing parents with more options for affordable, quality child care is a benefit to our entire country. If we know that our kids are being well taken care of, we have less to worry about, more funds to stimulate the economy, and we can retain our employment. This is a major stressor to working parents, especially working moms, and it’s something we need to address efficiently.

Joe Biden will never be the candidate of my dreams, but I’m absolutely going to vote for him. His policies aren’t going to enact the massive reform required to make this country what it could — and should — be, but they’re a damn sight better than the current administration’s backwards attempt to “make America great again.” I’ll hold my breath and pray for better when I fill out my ballot. Which I have to do at home because of the current president’s catastrophic mishandling of a global pandemic … in case anyone needs reminding.

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