Margaret Valenti talks to students about Joe Biden’s lack of support from younger voters.
To young voters, Joe Biden is the Jay Gatsby of political figures, a politician trying to reclaim a past that is gone. For Biden, the Obama years are a dream he is trying to replay. Those years were a transformation from the days of being a Delaware Senator to becoming Vice President of the United States under one of the most progressive presidents in history. While the DNC wants Joe Biden to win — still replaying the Obama years themselves — young voters want Biden gone. Joe Biden is simply not Obama, none of the candidates are, and no one can reclaim a past that is gone.
A sophomore Political Science major at Gettysburg College thought that “[Biden] would be President in the post-Trump era as a way to get the country back on track. That being said, I don’t agree with many of his policies such as his opposition to single-payer healthcare”.
A senior Political Science major also commented that “Joe Biden isn’t popular with younger people because of his long-time participation in the Democratic Party, his relatively recent adoption of progressive policies (whereas other politicians like Sanders have been progressives for longer), and young people’s relative alienation and dislike of political parties”.
The Obama Years
Young people were into Joe Biden when he stood in the shadow of Obama. The Biden-Obama memes were some of the best on the internet, treating Joe Biden like a mischievous child in the shadow of a parent. Some of the biggest accomplishments under the Obama administration were the successful killing of Osama Bin Laden and The Affordable Care Act. Obama had fun with the presidency and used the benefits to do things that made him likable, often appearing on talk shows, making funny YouTube videos like “Couch Commander”, and being unafraid to interact with celebrities from sports stars to actors. He held babies while smiling cheek to cheek and involved himself heavily in charity work aimed at empowering youth, women, and “making the world a better place”.
Compared to the current political climate, the Obama administration was a warm summer breeze and the worst things that happened were a scandalous tan suit, a never-ending war, and the notorious detention centers made worse in the Trump era. While moderate Democrats like Biden still cite Obama as a source of political wisdom, Warren and Sanders start a new path on the road to what many young voters feel is true progress. For the current political climate, Obama-era talking points are not going to work. In an age of ever-increasing polarization, Warren and Sanders are leagues ahead of the curve in terms of progressive politics — even as they lie to voters about the practicality surrounding the implementation of their plans.
“[Biden relied] hard on his past experience to carry his campaign, and by doing so he’s trying to push himself as an extension of the Democratic Party, and I think he’s alienating college students by doing that,” the Senior mentioned. “[In contrast, Sanders] was seen as more of a radical by the rest of the Dems, and thus doesn’t have the same insider label attached . . . Biden and other Democrats can fill living rooms and conference rooms; Sanders routinely sells out stadiums. I’d know, considering that I went to one of these rallies in 2016 with a good friend of mine. I think college students are looking at the Sanders campaign and see a vibrant crowd, much like protests some of them may have attended”.
2020 Presidential Race
What hurts Joe Biden is that he is the most moderate Democrat on the debate stage; Steyer does not have the political history of Biden, Buttigieg is in support of starting the path to Medicare for All, and Klobuchar has the midwestern charm that Biden lacks. As a Senator, Biden’s record hurts him with young, progressive U.S. voters who want to drastically improve the world they live in, not take incremental steps on what they feel is a road going nowhere and moving slowly.
“I think Joe Biden is on the wrong side of some major political developments compared to the other presidential candidates, and this is primarily why college students tend to not find him as appealing as the other Democrats”, the Senior continued.
Before Bloomberg came to the scene, Biden was the proverbial punching bag due to his record as a Senator, and those punches sufficiently hurt him in states like Iowa and New Hampshire. Yet if this election occurred five or ten years ago, Biden — along with Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Steyer — would be the most progressive candidate on stage. However, this is not the time for politics in moderation.
A continuation of the Obama years will not push the U.S. into the future according to young voters. No one young wants to pick a relic from the past, no matter how much a person can smile in remembrance of that past. That past is gone, it is time to look for the future, and young people believe there are simply better candidates who will lead the U.S. towards that future. Joe Biden certainly looked stronger tonight and the recent Nevada caucus went well for him. Like many of the candidates, it is up to the Super Tuesday elections to determine their places in the final stages of the race to become the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.