Nina Turner, co-chair of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) presidential campaign, ripped into Joe Biden (D) in a scathing op-ed over the weekend, arguing that the former vice president has “repeatedly betrayed black voters.”
Turner, a black woman herself, criticized Biden and argued that Sanders is a better choice for black voters across the country.
“Will our community side with former Vice President Joe Biden, who has repeatedly betrayed black voters to side with Republican lawmakers and undermine our progress?” she asked.
“Or will we stand with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and a movement that has been fighting for racial and economic justice since the civil rights era?” she continued, citing Biden’s work as a senator:
As a recent NBC News headline said of Biden’s time in the Senate: “Biden didn’t just compromise with segregationists. He fought for their cause.” The NBC report quoted the NAACP’s legal director saying that one Biden-backed measure “heaves a brick through the window of school integration.”
And Biden didn’t just vote for bills designed to prevent black students from accessing white schools: in a series of personal letters he actively courted pro-segregation senators to support the legislation
Sanders, Turner countered, had been organizing civil rights protests, participating in the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington, and finding himself arrested for “protesting rampant school segregation in Chicago.”
Turner also accused Biden of aiding in what she called the “public degradation of Anita Hill” and argued that he “fought alongside right-wing Republicans to pass so-called ‘welfare reform’ that reduced financial support for low-income families”:
Biden echoed former President Ronald Reagan’s dishonest “welfare queen” language and wrote a column conjuring an ugly stereotype of “welfare mothers driving luxury cars and leading lifestyles that mirror the rich and famous.”
In contrast, Sanders vigorously opposed these punitive cuts. “What welfare reform did, in my view,” Sanders said, “was to go after some of the weakest and most vulnerable people in this country.”
She also cited his past work with segregationist senators:
Similarly Biden worked with segregationist Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond to pass “tough on crime” legislation that targeted black communities with punitive criminal justice policies while promoting mass incarceration and harsh punishment for nonviolent crimes. At one point Biden declared that every “major crime bill since 1976 that’s come out of this Congress, every minor crime bill, has had the name of the Democratic senator from the state of Delaware — Joe Biden.”
Biden faced backlash last year after praising late Sens. James Eastland (D-MS) and Herman Talmadge (D-GA) on the campaign trail in an effort to demonstrate his ability to generate bipartisanship.
“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Biden said. “He never called me boy, he always called me son.”
“Well guess what?” he continued. “At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today you look at the other side and you’re the enemy.”
The issue reached a boiling point after Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) sparred with the former vice president on the issue of busing during July’s Democrat debate.
“When Vice President Biden was in the United States Senate working with segregationists to oppose busing, which was the vehicle by which we would integrate America’s public schools, had I been in the United States Senate at that time I would have been on the other side of the aisle,” Harris said.
As Breitbart News reported at the time:
Harris said that on the topic she and Biden could not “be further apart,” adding the former vice president was still refusing to acknowledge his past. The attack echoes the one Harris launched at the first debate when she confronted Biden for praising the “civility” of two segregationists Democrats, the late Sens. James Eastland (D-MS) and Herman Talmadge (D-GA). Biden had invoked the men, who dedicated their careers to halting the progress of civil rights, while touting on the campaign trail his ability to forge legislative “consensus.”
In her attack, Harris was quick to point out that both Talmadge and Eastland were allies in Biden’s crusade against busing to integrate public schools.
Since the initial altercation, Biden has paid homage to the late Sen. Fritz Hollings, a reformed segregationist, on the campaign trail on more than one occasion.
Biden, Turner continued, also fails to promote policies that she says would benefit the black community today, citing Medicare for All, free college, and the legalization of marijuana as examples.
By supporting a racial justice champion like Sanders — and his popular progressive agenda — black Americans will forge a multiracial, multigenerational working-class alliance that will generate the high turnout necessary to beat President Donald Trump.
“In standing with Sanders over Biden, we will declare that we are not going backward — we are going forward into a future of empowerment and equality for all,” she concluded.
Biden is currently leading in South Carolina with 32 percent of the vote, which is largely due to his strong support among black voters. Moreover, a Washington Post-Ipsos poll released Saturday showed the former vice president leading with support among black voters with 48 percent. No other candidate comes close, with Sanders coming in a distant second with 20 percent support.
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