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Joe Biden Is Not The Radical Left

— October 26, 2020

Big-name Republicans keep claiming that Joe Biden is a radical left extremist. Are they lying, ignorant, desperate, or all three?

It’s embarrassing to have to explain this, especially this close to the election, when so many voters have presumably been studiously doing their research on the candidates and their various positions and platforms (where applicable), but Joe Biden is not part of the radical left. He’s not even close.

You wouldn’t know it if you’ve been listening to Republican campaign rhetoric lately, though. It’s almost as if someone handed every GOP talking head the same photocopied list of talking points and a hammer to drive them home.

Last week in Erie, PA, President Trump described Joe Biden as a radical left extremist, claiming that Biden will ban fracking. (While Biden said he would not support new fracking ventures on public land, he would allow existing fracking operations to continue, and wouldn’t oppose new fracking on private land.)

On a campaign stop in Iowa this month, Vice President Mike Pence invoked the same bogeyman. “When you look at their agenda, one thing is clear,” said Pence, “Joe Biden would be nothing more than a Trojan Horse for the radical left.” What’s clear here is that either Pence hasn’t looked at the Democratic agenda, or he doesn’t know as much about what the left wants as he thinks he does. Consider Justin King, a journalist on the actual left. King says his greatest fear regarding the upcoming election is that a Biden win would sap the left’s momentum, encouraging complacency in the absence of Trumpian divisiveness. “Going back to normal” under a Biden presidency would not advance the kind of deep, systemic change that many on the radical left actually want.

On Fox and Friends earlier this month, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) opined that “Joe Biden’s going to do whatever he’s told to do by the left,” adding that “the radical left has taken over” because not enough people are funding Graham’s re-election campaign. Frankly, the radical left would dance in the streets if Biden did what they told him to. The Democrats only sound vaguely leftist when compared to the further-right Republicans, but if you look at their actions in Congress, they’re not very radical at all.

A woman in a dark blazer waves towards the camera.
Kamala Harris. Photo by Gage Skidmore, via Flickr. Image has been cropped. CC BY-SA 2.0

The right-leaning Washington Times repeated the same talking point in an August op-ed. Supposedly, Biden’s choice of Senator Kamala Harris as running mate reveals his radical left wing agenda. The same Harris, mind you, that points out was a “tough on crime” Attorney General in California. Harris defended the Three Strikes law, which provided mandatory life sentences for even minor third offenses, beefing up the prison-industrial complex as it tore apart minority families and communities. Kamala Harris began her electoral journey with police union endorsements, does that sound radically leftist to you?

Even C-list Republican has-beens are getting in on the action. At a Republican Party event last month, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee claimed that the radical left will take over the country if Joe Biden wins the election. Instead, he claims, it’ll be people like Bernie Sanders, who the DNC would likely never allow to win the nomination despite his popular appeal.

So, who are these radical left extremists that Joe Biden would put in control of the country? (Besides California’s former top cop, that is.) Turns out, it’s Republicans.

Like many former Presidents, Biden is currently vetting multiple Republicans for potential Cabinet positions. It appears that listening to a wide array of viewpoints is important to him. Running as a unity candidate with a hand extended across the aisle won’t impress progressive Democrats, let alone the radical left. Indeed, it’s a major reason the country has drifted so rightward in recent generations that people like Biden and Harris could be considered “radical left extremists” in the first place.

Republicans attempting to paint Biden as an extreme left-wing politician are either dangerously out of touch or seriously desperate. Perhaps both. Few on the American left (as opposed center-right Democrats) are even passably excited about a Biden presidency. He’s not their guy. He’s not what they want. And if they vote for Biden, it’s only because Trump really is that bad.

Related: Moderates, Lesser Evilism, and Rightward Drift


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