Joe Biden’s inevitable presidential campaign has hit a snag before it has even officially begun. The former vice president has been accused by a Nevada politician of inappropriately touching and kissing her without consent, an accusation that carries a significant amount of weight considering the number of pictures and videos of Biden being similarly inappropriate with numerous women and young girls. Biden has responded to these allegations with a statement that paradoxically claims that he will listen to accusers while asserting that he did not act inappropriately. This scandal should serve as a reminder that Biden deserves significantly more scrutiny as a candidate than he has received: besides his personal conduct, it is Biden’s legislative record that is most obviously monstrous.
Biden began his career in the Senate in the 1970s by opposing attempts to achieve educational integration, effectively isolating black children in underfunded, de facto segregated schools. In addition to working to preserve segregation, during his time in the Senate, Biden also became friends with notorious segregationist Strom Thurmond, even delivering a eulogy at Thurmond’s funeral in 2003.
Beyond their personal friendship, Biden and Thurmond were also close collaborators in implementing legislation that directly contributed to mass incarceration. The two senators were the co-sponsors of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, which expanded “civil asset forfeiture,” allowing police to seize property without proof of guilt.
Biden would continue to serve as one of the primary architects of mass incarceration throughout the 1980s and 1990s, sponsoring the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 that established the infamous 100:1 sentencing disparity for crack cocaine, as well as co-sponsoring the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 and contributing to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. They all enforced increasingly stringent sentencing requirements for minor offenses and led to the present situation in which the United States has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the entire world.
Beyond his role in the mass incarceration crisis, Biden also supported the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the implementation of the Patriot Act, the 2003 invasion of Iraq and even the Secure Fence Act of 2006, authorizing the construction of a barrier along the US-Mexico border.