US Presidential Election 2020: Black, Brown and Biden
November 10, 2020 3:28 PM
Biden’s profound experience, familiarity and understanding of the functioning of a government as a former Vice President under the Obama administration and his engagement and involvement with the Black community gives him credibility to voice his opinions and make decisions on race-related issues.
In this Presidential election the support from both Black and Brown communities helped to deliver a resounding victory to Biden. (Photo source: Reuters)
By Rashi Randev
After four years of being under a fallaciously erroneous presidency and the occurrence of tumultuous eventualities of 2020, President-elect Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. has brought new hopes for American people; his victory restores hope for democracy and development, offering a promise to tackle the challenges posed by a Pandemic, climate change crisis and the given racial unrest due to inequality and injustice. Biden’s profound experience, familiarity and understanding of the functioning of a government as a former Vice President under the Obama administration and his engagement and involvement with the Black community gives him credibility to voice his opinions and make decisions on race-related issues.
In this Presidential election the support from both Black and Brown communities helped to deliver a resounding victory to Biden. It was the African American voters who pulled him through in South Carolina and helped him to get back into the race to become the Democratic presidential nominee. The Biden campaign knew that the support from the Black community could be a deciding factor between the victory and loss of Biden.
African American women have always been considered the backbone of the Democratic Party and has always voted more reliably than African American men. During the presidential elections of 2016, it is assessed that 98 per cent of African American women had cast their votes for Hillary Clinton as their presidential candidate, while only 81 per cent of African American men voted for Hillary and 14 per cent of African American men cast their votes for Trump. Therefore, the task for Biden campaign was not only to maintain the African American democratic voter support they had for Hillary Clinton but also gain the support of the 14 per cent of African American men who presented their loyalties towards Trump. The presidential electoral race between Biden and Trump was too close to call, but the overwhelming support of the Black community gave Democrats a win in key states such as Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin. According to the exit poll data, the African American voters cast their votes in support for Biden by a margin of 87 per cent to Trump’s 12 per cent.
In this presidential election for the African American voters, the implications of the pandemic, the racial awakening brought by the death of George Floyd and the chaotic presidency of Donald Trump was the biggest motivations to vote for Biden. The African American community has always faced the brunt of the systemic racism and racial inequality present in American society and the Covid-19 pandemic has further widened the already existing health and economic disparities faced by the Black community and has therefore disproportionately affected them. Also, the response of Trump administration towards the national emergency proved to be a failure and as a result a significant percentage (1 in 1,000) of African Americans have lost their lives, a significant percentage of Black businesses have shut down and are facing serious financial crisis and under the Trump administration, in the last four years the unemployment rate for the Black community is fifty per cent more than what it was during the end of the Obama administration.
Biden’s political association along with his close relationship with Obama and his decision to choose Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate provided an affirmative indication to both Black and Brown communities, assuring them about their concerns to be a priority in his administration. Biden has carved his own special place by breaking substantial barriers and setting new examples of democratic racial inclusivity in American politics, firstly as a running mate and then Vice President to the first Black President of the United States and secondly by choosing a woman of colour as his running mate and a future Vice President.
Biden was one of the biggest supporters and author of the 1994 Crime bill known as the ‘Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act’ which affected almost every aspect of the US Criminal Justice System, the law was the major driving factor for mass incarcerations in the United States and led to an era of disproportionate incarcerations and devastation of the African American community, contributing towards twenty five per cent of the world’s prison population. Biden apologised for his past stance on the bill as he knew that the African American support was crucial for Democrats to win. The Democrats understand the importance of Kamala Harris as an African American and an American Asian woman and how over the years, race has proved to be an important factor to drive voter choices.
Kamala Harris identifies herself as a Black woman of Indian heritage, her Jamaican father and Indian mother were immigrants in America and she as a biracial woman Vice President inspire young women from both Black and Brown communities and revives the hope for the possibility of living the American Dream in women and men from other racial communities.
(The author is a PhD Scholar at the Centre for Canadian, US, and Latin American Studies at JNU. Views are personal).