“DNC should stop with the ‘decency porn’ and say how they are going to help people losing their homes and jobs.” –Kim Gordon (yes, that Kim Gordon!)
We have a moral imperative to both vote for Joe Biden AND inveigh against his monstrous Senate record, retrograde politics, and profound character flaws.
I do not understand liberals’ collective need to fall in love with every politician who emerges from the (usually fraught and undemocratic) primary election, and to erase whatever horrors we must to make that feasible. We are voting for Biden because Trump is a fascist and he’s not. That’s it. We do ourselves and especially our more vulnerable Americans zero favors when we rewrite Biden’s history or character.
For the record, because so many liberals seem to have forgotten: Joseph Robinette Biden is an unrepentant plagiarist who believes that sexually harassing multiple women in the workplace should not be a barrier to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. He is a serial sexual harasser himself; we have video evidence of him verbally abusing, degrading, and menacing women. During the Democratic primary, he was caught lying repeatedly, and he was the only candidate who literally name-called and bizarrely challenged rally attendees instead of answering their honest questions. He is an anti-choice Catholic and a racist. The only civil liberties arena where he’s even slightly enlightened is that of LGBTQ rights. He still believes marijuana is a “gateway drug”, and his policy platforms are for the wealthy donors, not the people. He actually believes congressional Republicans are his friends (ask yourself how many people will die in the time it takes him to figure out they’re not?), and he keeps telling us he’s going to let Trump and his whole administration skate on their corruption and abhorrent human rights abuses and crimes against humanity. Which of course means we’re staring down the barrel of Ivanka 2024.
Joe Biden is not decent.
We must be honest about what we have to do this fall. It’s gross, it’s abusive toward ourselves, a bitter pill to swallow that is still our moral obligation.
Biden is only running on Decency because he can’t run on his record or his politics. This is a tactic, a branding ploy. It’s very insincere. Furthermore, running on Decency will have the inevitable impact of dampening scrutiny and accountability. (Although Biden likely sees that as a feature, not a bug.) Biden is encouraging us to put him on a pedestal and envision him a certain way, as a kind man who does the right thing and cares about us. If we internalize that falsehood, it will be difficult to become angry at him when he fails us. Humans are just wired this way. We are always reluctant to criticize someone we like. But it’s not our job to like Biden, or to see him as he wants to be seen rather than how he actually is. It’s our job to vote for him and demand he be a public servant who works for us.
A frequent narrative running around right now is “Vote for Biden no matter what because Trump, and we’ll hold him accountable later.” While this narrative is probably well-meaning and motivated by pain and desperation, it’s also wrong and harmful. Yes, we must vote for him, but we must start holding him accountable NOW. As I and many others predicted, he’s running an utterly incompetent campaign, and he communicates to us literally every day that he either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care what we’re really up against. It’s late August and he still hasn’t said the word “Fascism.” That’s unconscionable! We should be furious! His vice presidential selection process was a grotesque, misogynist charade of taunting the public and exploiting women’s ambition and our trauma for fundraising props. If he knew or cared what we’re up against, he would have gotten right to the point. He would have not only done an expedited vetting process, he would have communicated that he understood the seriousness of his choice, given that he is, well, statistically dead. A very old man with a well-documented enthusiasm problem among his base should not be actively seeking a VP candidate who won’t challenge him and “doesn’t have presidential ambitions of her own.”* He deserves to be shamed for that.
Joe Biden isn’t decent.
If you are, like me, terrified of another four years of Trump, and are willing to make a deal with the devil to oust him, it may feel weird to discount the decency angle, especially since that’s all Biden is really running on. If you reject the decency trope, even based on cold hard facts, what’s left? Ouch.
I know the argument coming now: you think my strategy will give Trump the win. It will not. Quite the opposite: being totally honest about who Biden is and what he stands for, and shaming him to do better, is crucial – and possibly our only option come November – to ousting Donald Trump. This is not going to be a normal, free and fair election. Trump isn’t trying to win reelection, he’s trying to stay in power. Those are two entirely separate things. If we spend two more months jerking off to the Decency Porn, we won’t be prepared to demand that Biden fight for us when it really matters. It’s rather challenging to hold onto healthy skepticism when you’re in the throes of passion. When Trump rigs or steals the election and Biden shrugs and concedes, like both John Kerry and Hillary Clinton did, we will need our full wits about us. We CANNOT let Biden do that. It MUST be socially acceptable to be furious at him when he tries.
If you need anyone’s blessing to hold your nose and vote for him simply because he’s not Trump, you surely have mine. That’s literally my only motivation.
*That report was published before the announcement of Senator Kamala Harris as the VP candidate, and obviously, yes, she’s harbored some presidential ambitions. In that light, I’m not sure what happened. It’s possible someone convinced Biden otherwise, which is positive, but that he ever even had such a thought in the first place is shameful and should horrify us.
Plum and Black Pepper Cake
- 1 cup 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper, divided
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 2-3 plums, pitted and sliced into eighths
- Handful of sliced almonds
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan, then line with parchment paper that comes up the sides. Fold it flat where it rumples, then spray the parchment paper with baking spray. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer (I used the hand mixer), beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, and 2 tsp black pepper until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, pausing to scrape the sides of the bowl down with a spatula.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 tsp black pepper. Add this mixture to the butter mixture gradually, beating on low after each addition. Add the milk, then beat it in on low speed.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Arrange the plum slices on top, but do not press them into the batter. The why will become clear after the cake is baked. For now, just trust me. Sprinkle the sliced almonds on top, followed by the remaining 1 tsp black pepper.
- Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the cake is springy when gently tapped and a cake tester that has been inserted right near a plum comes out clean. The last parts of the cake to bake are right around the plums, so you have to check there too.
- Cool the cake at least 15 minutes - I prefer not to take chances and I cool it completely in the pan - and then gently lift the cake out onto a serving plate or cutting board. Cut into slices and serve. I loved some vanilla ice cream alongside, Ebuehi serves hers with creme fraiche, but I assure you from lived experience that it’s still wonderful unadorned.