Despite not formally announcing his presidential run, no politician in the Democratic Party has undergone more scrutiny in the last two weeks than former Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden has been the target of seven accusations from women alleging he made them feel uncomfortable in public and private settings.
Biden is known for being a very physical politician, often reaching out for a handshake or tightly embracing a colleague.
D.J. Hill, one of the women alleging Biden harassed her, described Biden’s brand as “tactile politics” in a New York Times article released on April 2.
Despite the chaotic last few weeks, Biden still scores the highest in Democratic primary polls.
This is surprising due to the recent liberal shift in democratic politics that would leave Biden as one of the most moderate candidates. There is also a growing and active field of candidates appearing on television and in public regularly that he has to compete with.
Salisbury University College Democrats co-Presidents Jake Burdett and Chris Madden chimed in on Biden and his political stock.
“I think what he's done is inappropriate and creepy,” Burdett said. “But I don't think that any [of] the allegations so far rise to sexual assault.”
Madden took a more forgiving stance, offering that the allegations against Biden aren’t as bad as ones made against other politicians in recent memory.
“I don't think it’s as bad as others have been. I don't think the allegations against him are as bad as like, Al Franken,” Madden said.
Former Senator Al Franken was accused of groping and forcibly kissing as many as eight women before resigning from the Senate in January last year.
Both agreed that Biden’s brand is better off for acknowledging his past mistakes. In a video last week, Biden publicly apologized for his actions and swore to reflect and improve on them.
“Based on what we do know, I would say at the very least, it’s inappropriate harassment. He makes women uncomfortable. And it's good that he’s acknowledged that in the past that was wrong,” Burdett said.
But the “touchiness” is only one issue for Biden.
As Biden continues to perform triage on his brand, he will have to contend with another reality — a shifting voter base which regards him as more of a peddler of failed policies, not an architect of tomorrow.
Burdett and Madden echo a sentiment that’s growing among younger voters. Both Burdett and Madden endorse the two candidates considered the vanguards of the left wing, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, respectively.
The pro-capitalist, market solutions-based platform that Joe Biden and other “old guard” Democrats ran on is by and large out of style with American voters.
“I do think neoliberalism has failed,” Madden said. “But I don’t believe that means the capitalist system has failed.”
Many other people are not so patient with Biden or capitalist-first policy anymore.
“I think Joe Biden has a long history of supporting destructive policies for the country that disqualify him from any serious consideration,” Burdett said.
Burdett echoes a common sentiment among younger, more radical voters today, noting that the most notable piece of legislation associated with Biden is the infamous 1994 Clinton crime bill.
More than just a hashtag, “Bernie would have won” is an indictment on the Democratic Party’s inability to appease the shifting consciousness in its base.
“That's why Hillary, you know, failed — she lost in probably the most embarrassing election in US history, because she was running as the status quo, business-as-usual candidate in a time where we need a swashbuckling progressive, here to really flip the table and radically alter the existing system that's not working for so many Americans,” Burdett said.
And just as the polls failed Hillary, both presidents believe the polls are wrong yet again.
Both cite name recognition as a reason why Biden polls so high.
“He was a vice president for eight years and a senator for like 20,” Madden said. “People are familiar with him.
“His popularity is very high right now because of name recognition, because he was the vice president of Barack Obama, who had a pretty high approval rating — so I think that explains his early lead: name recognition,” Burdett said.
“I think as soon as he announces, once he starts making public appearances and saying things, he’s gonna keep putting his foot in his mouth and shooting himself in the foot, and sink his own approval and chances like he’s done multiple times in the past,” Burdett continued.
If Biden is to get in the presidential race, he will have to figure out the segment of the base he can ride to victory. It almost certainly will not be the youth.
By K.B. MENSAH
Featured photo: Reuters/Andreas Gebert image.