Asheville DSA’s Socialist Feminist Working Group: Statement on Joe Biden’s Record of Sexual Abuse
The following statement has been written and approved by the members of the Socialist Feminist Working Group of the Asheville chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.
As the United States approaches a high-stakes election, the members of the Socialist Feminist Working Group of the Asheville Democratic Socialists of America declare our total dissatisfaction with the chosen candidates for president. We caution against normalizing a democracy that consistently forces its population to choose between the “lesser of two evils.”
While we do not want to dissuade voters (especially in North Carolina) from voting Democrat in 2020, we also understand and support the many of us who reject participating in this choice between two evils.
To borrow the words of Angela Davis,
I’m not going to actually support either of the major candidates. But I do think we have to participate in the election. I mean, that isn’t to say that I won’t vote for the Democratic candidate. What I’m saying is that in our electoral system as it exists, neither party represents the future that we need in this country.
The future we need in this country is not one controlled by abusers, but rather one dictated by uncompromising values. Socialist Survivors have called for Joe Biden to suspend his campaign and for elected officials endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America to rescind any and all endorsements of Joe Biden. On May 22nd, the Socialist Survivors of the Democratic Socialists of America created a petition calling on Joe Biden to drop out. We won’t quote the whole statement here, but it comes down to one central point:
Joe Biden is replaceable, but the gains of #MeToo are not.
While Joe Biden may be the most effective political choice a conscientious voter can make this November, we must acknowledge the message it sends to survivors that they are forced to quietly accept an abuser as our choice for presidential candidate. Even Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s running mate, has publicly acknowledged her belief of Joe Biden’s accusers. The allegations against Biden, and our cultural response to them, is bigger than one individual politician. We must always proceed with unwavering vigilance out of respect for the activists and survivors that have paved the way for the cultural sea-change we may finally be witnessing today. In their honor, we firmly reject the idea that we should have to sacrifice our principles and swallow our trauma in order to defeat Donald Trump. To put Joe Biden, a man with such startling abuse allegations, in our country’s ultimate position of power perpetuates an insidious cultural normalization of predatory behavior.
One of the fiercest enemies of the #MeToo movement is the widespread notion that only some acts of harassment or assault are unacceptable while others are somehow deemed tolerable by our justice system. Joe Biden’s success relies directly on the American people accepting the notion that his actions were not “bad enough” to negate his supposed qualifications. This acceptance creates a culture of victim-shaming that opens up seekers of justice to dehumanizing debates about whether their abusers’ actions truly “deserve” the repercussions they seek. Until all sexual abuse is taken seriously, no matter the status of the abuser, we will continue to fail in fostering a society that prioritizes justice for survivors.
In addition to the original petition, we would like to make clear that we denounce all sexual violence and predation, not only, but especially when it comes from people in power. That includes Democrats and Republicans alike. President Donald Trump is a known serial abuser and misogynist and our opposition to Trump and his administration remains as strong as ever.
As we continue to struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic and governments are faced with constituents who demand that racism be treated as a public health issue, American politics remain deeply tied to a corporate, capitalist system. The Democrats’ decision to overlook Joe Biden’s sexual abuse allegations and push forward with his lackluster candidacy is an unmistakable display of the out-of-touch and superficial values and goals they possess. Not only do they threaten to rescind the progress made by the movement against sexual assault, they offer us weak, centrist policies at a time when we need a bold, dramatic, and uncompromising vision for the future.
Let’s take this moment as a bitter reminder that politics desperately need our attention in all seasons, election and beyond. We must take it upon ourselves to cultivate a culture that no longer accepts a choice between two evils. Asheville prides itself on being a progressive, inclusive place, so we must ask ourselves: Why, in the face of a movement illuminating the necessity of firm boundaries, are the powers that be so willing to compromise ours?
If our concerns resonate with you, remember that no matter what the ballot looks like, you have the power to effect change every day by getting involved in your community. Reach out to your friends, family, coworkers, or neighbors. Join the group We Believe Tara, created by the Socialist Survivors, and donate to keep the fight alive. Research a local group that’s organizing around local and national issues. Our group, the Socialist Feminist Working Group of the Asheville DSA, is actively learning and organizing and we welcome new members to join us. While we may see discouraging stagnation and hypocrisy on a national level, we can begin to see and enact real change where we live by getting together and doing something about it.
Remember that it’s not politicians but people and movements that drive lasting change. Angela Davis’ quote, continued below, makes this point succinctly:
…the election will not so much be about who gets to lead the country to a better future, but rather how we can support ourselves and our own ability to continue to organize and place pressure on those in power. And I don’t think there’s a question about which candidate would allow that process to unfold.
So I think that we’re going to have to translate some of the passion that has characterized these demonstrations into work within the electoral arena, recognizing that the electoral arena is not the best place for the expression of radical politics. But if we want to continue this work, we certainly need a person in office who will be more amenable to our mass pressure. And to me, that is the only thing that someone like a Joe Biden represents. But we have to persuade people to go out and vote to guarantee that the current occupant of the White House is forever ousted.