COLUMN

I Can’t Believe I Have to Vote for Joe Biden

Democratic women are once again being asked to help save the country by voting for a deeply problematic man

Joe Biden. Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images

OnOn election night in 2016, my six-year-old daughter and I wore matching “feminist” T-shirts, ordered a pizza, and sat glued in front of the television with my mother. Assuming three generations of women were about to watch the first female president be elected, I bought a bottle of champagne. (It’s still sitting in a dusty corner of my bar.)

This November, there won’t be buzzy excitement or matching T-shirts with my daughter. On election day, my choice will be between Donald Trump, a dangerous bigot who has been credibly accused of rape, sexual assault, and harassment by more than two dozen women over a more than four-decade period, and Joe Biden, a man recently accused of sexually assaulting a Senate aide in the 1990s, and who has made fun of the women who complained about his penchant for unwanted shoulder rubs.

Biden is the better choice by a mile, and I’ll do what’s right for the country and vote for him. But I’m still furious: I can’t believe that when faced with the most dangerous president of our lifetime, Democrats are moving ahead with a nearly 80-year-old moderate who has shown himself time and again not up for the fight. I am livid that Democratic women will be called on, once again, to cast our vote in the name of reducing harm to the country rather than moving it forward.

Most of all, I’m angry that people who want Trump out are expected to just vote without airing our concerns about the man who stands between him and another four years. I understand the deep worry so many Democrats share about fighting Trump with anything less than full-throated enthusiasm for our candidate. The consequences of losing another election — more far-right Supreme Court justices appointed, more children separated from their parents at the border, more hate crimes, and more lives and jobs lost amid this mismanaged pandemic — are real and terrifying. But the idea that we can no longer speak the truth aloud for fear of losing is a dangerous one.

And the truth is that this election is going to be terrible for women, no matter what we do. Feminists have long warned about Biden’s treatment of Anita Hill (along with his decades-late non-apology), his nastiness toward women he doesn’t find sufficiently deferential and sweet, and the former vice president’s trademark handsiness — but we’re still going to see these new allegations weaponized against us should we vote for him.

The cultural progress of #MeToo will be sidelined by Democrats in favor of the goal of unseating Trump.

Democratic women know that another four years of Trump will mean disaster for our country. But over the next few months, we will watch as men on the left and right who have never cared about sexual assault, harassment, or gender equality tar and feather women who are terrified of losing their fundamental human rights — and possibly even their democracy — as hypocrites for supporting Biden. (Pro tip: If the only time you have spoken out against our country’s culture of sexual violence is to play some sort of perverse “gotcha” game with Democratic women, you do not actually care about this issue.)

At the same time, those of us who dare to question Biden’s feminist bonafides or who believe his accuser will be called Trump enablers. As if saying anything negative about Biden, no matter how important, means we are somehow less serious about beating Trump in November.

No matter what we do, women stand to lose. The cultural progress of #MeToo will be sidelined by Democrats in favor of the goal of unseating Trump. Meanwhile Republicans will continue to ignore Trump’s misogyny and long history of sexual predation while casting themselves as pro-woman and mocking “creepy uncle Joe.” Those on the left will be left insisting that Biden’s behavior has not been nearly as bad as that of the president.

Even if that’s true — that the current allegations against Biden pale in comparison to the many against our president — I can’t fucking believe that this is what it’s come to. After a primary season that featured more strong female presidential candidates than ever in history, women will get a general election season of watching sexual assault used as a political cudgel by those who don’t actually care about women at all. It’s all a farce, and I’m exhausted by it already. (Especially when I think about how easily this could have been avoided by nominating Elizabeth Warren.)

However perilous this moment is, we need to do the right thing: We cannot continue one of the most powerful movements against sexual harassment and assault by playing down sexism within our own party. We can beat Trump while still being honest about who Biden is. It’s what we have to do.

So like a lot of American women, if I pop any corks on election night, it won’t be because Joe Biden won — but because Donald Trump lost. I can live with that. But I won’t forget that Democrats put American women in this position. And I won’t ever forgive it.

Feminist author & columnist. Native NYer, pasta enthusiast.

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