Although most viewers of Tuesday night’s debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden focused on Trump’s aggressive demeanor and the contemptuous interplay between the two candidates, some real policy differences also emerged.
One of the consequences of this election, should Joe Biden win, would be a return to a federal government that actively pursues questionable ideological theories about race and sex, although you have to listen closely to catch them.
During the debate, moderator Chris Wallace asked, “Why should voters trust you rather than your opponent to deal with the race issues facing this country over the next four years?” Biden’s answer was syntactically jumbled, a reflection either of his tendency to meander or an unwillingness to spell out what the Democratic Party and the progressive left hope to see out of a Biden presidency. “It’s about equity and equality,” Biden said.
But equity and equality have two very different meanings in contemporary discussions of race and policy. Equality of opportunity, enshrined in the Constitution, embraces a color-blind standard for assessing claims of injustice. By contrast, “equity” pursues equality of outcomes, as evidenced by a popular meme comparing the two that is now a common teaching tool for diversity and anti-racism consultants.
Biden used the terms interchangeably, but his approach clearly favors equity over equality. When asked by Wallace, in response to the case of Breonna Taylor, “Do you believe that there is a separate but unequal system of justice for Blacks in this country?” Biden unhesitatingly responded, “Yes, there is. There’s systemic injustice in this country, in education and work and in law enforcement and the way in which it’s enforced.” He briefly tried to have it both ways by following up with, “The vast majority of police officers are good, decent, honorable men and women. They risk their lives every day to take care of us, but there are some bad apples.”
These positions are contradictory.
Those who argue that our country is systemically racist reject the notion (and the statistically verifiable fact) that deadly interactions between the cops and black people are vanishingly rare, for example. That’s why Black Lives Matter activists spray paint “ACAB” everywhere, not “Some Bad Apples.”
Biden’s attempt to embrace the rhetoric while signaling his support for law enforcement, while politically astute, will be severely tested if he becomes president. A recent headline in the socialist publication Jacobin noted, “A Joe Biden Presidency Will Require Mass Protests, Too” and warned, “Like his predecessors, a President Biden will be inclined to do both nothing, and something terrible. If you want him to do the opposite, be prepared to resist him like you’re resisting Trump.”
Biden took a similar tack in answering a poorly worded question by Wallace about critical race theory (Wallace elided the distinction between generic “racial sensitivity training,” which has been around for decades, and Critical Race Theory, such as Ibrahim X. Kendi’s popular “anti-racism” theories, which has infiltrated federal government training programs and schools only recently and emphasizes “white privilege” and systemic racism).
Trump offered a straightforward response, perhaps his best in the debate, when he said, “I ended it because it’s racist.”
“I ended it because a lot of people were complaining that they were asked to do things that were absolutely insane. That it’s a radical revolution that was taking place in our military, in our schools, all over the place . . . we were paying people hundreds of thousands of dollars to teach very bad ideas and frankly, very sick ideas. And really, they were teaching people to hate our country And I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to allow that to happen. We have to go back to the core values of this country. They were teaching people that our country is a horrible place. It’s a racist place. And they were teaching people to hate our country. And I’m not going to allow that to happen.”
By contrast, Biden embraced anti-racism reeducation, saying, “People have to be made aware of what other people feel like, what insults them, what is demeaning to them. It’s important people know.” He is either deliberately obtuse or unaware of what such programs look like in practice—white people compelled to confess their internalized racism and “white privilege,” who must declare themselves supporters of “anti-racist” ideology, for example. On the streets during the past few months, the reeducation efforts have become more aggressive, with BLM protestors harassing people in public, demanding that they raise their fists to show common cause, and threatening them if they refuse.
Instead, Biden turned the conversation to ethnic white racism from many generations ago, saying, “It’s a little bit like how this guy and his friends look down on so many people. They look down their nose on people like Irish Catholics, like me, who grow up in Scranton. They look down on people who don’t have money. They look down on people who are of a different faith. They looked down on people who are a different color.”
And while Biden attempted to promote a unifying message— “In fact, we’re all Americans. The only way we’re going to bring this country together is bring everybody together”— his embrace of the systemic racism argument is worrisome given that he vows to “take this on” and claims “we can defeat racism in America.”
As with race, Biden has also made clear that he will dramatically alter policies related to sexual assault and sexual harassment on college campuses by reversing the Trump administration’s changes to Title IX guidelines. Biden has stated that the new rules, which were issued by the Department of Education and included new due process protections for the accused and were supported by experts on the left and the right, “shame and silence survivors.” He promised to put a “quick end” to them if he becomes president.
Biden’s campaign website describes the new regulations (which, unlike the Obama-era “Dear Colleague” letter, were drafted after public comment periods and other procedural requirements were met), as “backstepping on Title IX.” Biden’s website states, “The Biden Administration will restore the Title IX guidance for colleges, including the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, which outlined for schools how to fairly conduct Title IX proceedings.”
If, as the polls increasingly suggest, Biden is headed to the White House, Americans should begin to think about the kinds of policies he will pursue as president. His aw-shucks, Scranton-guy, average Joe shtick has clearly been effective as a political brand, but his stated policy goals in this election are more in keeping with those of the increasingly powerful progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Average Joe might win the election, but he will reap the radical whirlwind when he does.