By Sandra Harris
Joe Biden has recently come under fire for comments he made while appearing on a May 22 episode of New York City radio show The Breakfast Club, in which he said “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
Despite the upcoming presidential election, Biden has struggled to maintain visibility and relevance, especially over the past several months of deepening imperialist crisis amidst the coronavirus outbreak. Since 2016, politicians from the Democratic Party have made regular appearances on The Breakfast Club to appeal to the show’s younger, Black audience in an attempt to win votes and a false sense of legitimacy, portraying themselves as champions of the oppressed.
Many media outlets referred to Biden’s comments as a “gaffe,” passing them off as a simple mistake rather than an arrogant and chauvinistic assumption of support. Throughout his years in politics, Biden has made statements that range from incoherent to offensive, and the Democratic Party’s only defense is that he isn’t Donald Trump.
Trump and reactionaries in his base immediately seized the opportunity to mock Biden. “Joe Biden believes Black men and women are incapable of being independent or free thinking. He truly believes that he, a 77-year-old white man, should dictate how Black people should behave,” Katrina Pierson, a senior advisor to Trump’s campaign, who is also Black, wrote in a statement. Despite his open support for white supremacists in recent years, Trump eagerly capitalizes on Biden’s errors.
In this case both Biden and Trump clearly wield identity politics as tools in the upcoming election. The appeals that ruling class politicians are making have not swayed Black working class people, many of whom do not vote. Studies have shown that most people who don’t vote aren’t white despite making up only one-fourth of the voting population. Black people made up 15 percent of nonvoters in 2016, while making up only 10 percent of voters in the same year.
The working class can see through the racist chauvinism from bourgeois politicians, whether they be Republicans or Democrats. As politicians attempt to steer the masses into more dead-end elections, many have opted to take to the streets in rebellion against the racist police and the reactionary system they prop up instead.