Joe Biden's plantation mentality

Nearing the end of an interview with likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, radio host Charlamagne Tha God told Biden that he had to come back, saying, "It's a long way to November; we got more questions..."

"You've got more questions," Biden interjects, "but I tell you, if you have a problem figuring out whether you are for me or Trump, then," Biden says, without smiling, "you ain't black."

Tha God, waving his hand in emphatic protest, says, "It don't have nothing to do with Trump [Biden smiles broadly], It has to do with the fact that I want something for my community; I would love to see you —"

Biden, interjecting again, says, with arms extended, "Take a look at my record, man!  I extended the Voting Rights 25 years; I have a record second to none ..."

Biden goes on to also point out that the NAACP has endorsed him every time he has run.  But in pointing to his record, the only specific legislation he mentions is the Voting Rights Act.  He speaks as if this alone should settle the electoral issue for blacks — as if it were the legislation itself that gave blacks the right to vote.  In fact, it does not; what it does is prevent states from employing discriminatory practices that would prevent blacks from exercising that right.  The actual right to vote itself, regardless of race, came in 1870, from Republicans.  (And it first took a war, the sacrifice of over 360,000 Union dead, to do it.)  So if the history of voting rights is to be the deciding factor, Biden's argument cuts, at best, both ways.

But for the sake of argument, let us accept Biden's premise: that blacks should vote for him because he has been a longtime supporter of the Voting Rights Act, which has, in some states, effectively allowed much greater black participation in elections.  That is to say that, but for Biden, and for people (Democrats) like him, many blacks wouldn't have the right to vote at all.  For the sake of argument, let us assume this to be true.  Does that then necessarily mean that blacks must vote for Biden?

If we say it does, we are saying that, for all time, the only issue that matters for blacks is whether or not a politician supported the Voting Rights Act.  Economic policy does not matter; foreign policy does not matter; educational policies do not matter; the freedom or suppression of public speech does not matter; beneficial or detrimental policies generally do not matter; and corruption, corruption, corruption does not matter.  All that matters, Biden argues, is that he supported the Voting Rights Act.

Biden speaks as if he voted for that act not on principle, but on the expectation that, in supporting it, he would thereafter "own" the black vote.  Blacks, in other words, have the right to vote, but only as long as they vote for him.