In 2016, a brash first-time candidate rode his disregard for liberal shibboleths and willingness to contradict media myths into the White House. Imagine if a 2024 presidential contender came along who was willing to say Democrats “in big cities” are “more immoral” than Republicans. Suppose a candidate smacked down baseless partisan attacks on the Republican Party by saying they threaten to “bring down our political system.” Try to envision a candidate with the courage to respond to claims that America’s history demands race-based wealth redistribution by saying, “I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago.” This candidate might even have the courage to say that government programs favoring one ethnic group over another have the capacity to transform non-racist Americans into racists and “fill them with hatred.”
The good news is there is such a candidate. The bad news is, it’s Joe Biden, who made all of those comments — and many, many more incendiary statements — at the outset of his political career nearly five decades ago. Biden made most of these comments during a single speech, delivered at the City Club of Cleveland on May 18, 1973.
Biden began by addressing the biggest issue of the day: Watergate. The newly-elected Senator Biden “warned potential Democratic candidates running against Ohio’s two Republican senators that it would be morally wrong to blame Watergate on them or on the Republican [P]arty,” according to an article published the next day in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Biden said that while Watergate represented an “insult to the fundamental makeup of the country,” Democrats should refrain from claiming that every Republican somehow participated in the third-rate burglary.
For one thing, Biden said, attempting to destroy one political party by erroneously accusing all its members of complicity in criminal wrongdoing would unravel the social fabric of the United States of America. “What holds us together as a nation are not cultural ties as in other countries, but political ties,” Biden said. “We are able to move forward because of politics. If we bring down a great political party, we bring down our political system.”
Secondly, political competition benefits black Americans, especially in the formerly solidly Democratic South, Biden said. “Although my Democratic colleagues won’t like me saying this, I think the two-party system is good for the South, and good for the Negro and good for the black in the South,” Biden said.
Besides, Biden apparently conceded, Democrats do not exactly have clean hands themselves. “Let me say for the record, clearly, clearly Democrats are as immoral as Republicans, and maybe in big cities, a good deal more immoral in the traditional sense,” Biden told attendees.
Even 49 years ago, the speech bore the characteristic marks of Joe Biden’s egotism. Biden’s dividing line at that time came not between political parties; it came between politicians and the unwashed masses they represented. According to Biden, politicians are morally superior to their constituents. “As a practical matter, politicians as a whole, in my opinion, having practiced law for four years, are a good deal more moral than lawyers, for example, or doctors or businessmen as a whole,” he said. Even young Biden believed the greatest ethical boundary was the D.C. Beltway, I-495.
But what he lacked in humility, the young Biden made up for by standing up for the concept of justice against those advocating sweeping, top-down government programs aimed at “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” While he apparently alluded to these concepts in his 1973 speech, Biden eschewed all nuance in an interview just two years later.
“I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather. I feel responsible for what the situation is today, for the sins of my own generation. And I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago,” Biden told the Newark, Delaware-based People Paper in 1975.
After rejecting collective guilt for the sins of his fathers, Biden rejected reverse discrimination. “I do not buy the concept, popular in the ’60s, which said, ‘We have suppressed the black man for 300 years and the white man is now far ahead in the race for everything our society offers. In order to even the score, we must now give the black man a head start, or even hold the white man back, to even the race,’” Biden said. “I don’t buy that.”
He took aim at the most central “equity” government program of his time: Affirmative Action. “I am philosophically opposed to quota systems. They ensure mediocrity,” Biden said. “It is one thing to say that you cannot keep a black man from using this bathroom, and something quite different to say that one out of every five people who use this bathroom must be black.”
“The new integration plans being offered are really just quota systems to assure a certain number of blacks, Chicanos, or whatever in each school. That, to me, is the most racist concept you can come up with,” he continued. “Who the hell do we think we are, [saying] that the only way a black man or woman can learn is if they rub shoulders with my white child?”
Biden even warned that racism in the name of equity would turn non-racist white people into hatemongers. “You take people who aren’t racist, people who are good citizens, who believe in equal education and opportunity, and you stunt their children’s intellectual growth by busing them to an inferior school … and you’re going to fill them with hatred.”
Few people would pine for the days of the 1970s — at least before Biden’s tenure in office — but everything in Biden’s philosophy has inverted over the ensuing decades. Far from acknowledging its moral failings, today’s Democratic Party comports itself like the new Puritans, policing language for any hint of infidelity to Woke orthodoxy. Joe Biden molded himself to the political environment by holding himself out as the high priest of equity. Biden launched his third presidential campaign by claiming to wage a “battle for the soul of America.”
Bipartisan comity seems especially outdated in light of America’s ever-increasing partisan acrimony. Of course, Watergate proved too tantalizing a scandal for Biden’s party to resist: Outrage over the presidential cover-up ushered in the 1974 midterm elections, and backlash against President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon almost undoubtedly cost him the 1976 election against Jimmy Carter. But today, Biden presides over a Democratic Party that regularly describes the GOP as a “death cult”; that summarily accuses those who harbor any suspicion about the propriety of the 2020 presidential election of being “insurrectionists”; that has weaponized the Justice Department to hunt down thought-criminals who believe “anti-government and anti-authority ideologies”; and that claims democracy may come to a sputtering halt if the American people elect a Republican majority to Congress in this year’s midterm elections — much less then 2024 presidential election (especially if that Republican is surnamed, Trump).
Yet of all Biden’s youthful idealism, his commitment to the West’s historic belief in colorblind justice has become the greatest anachronism. Biden selected his vice president on the basis of two criteria: her race and her sex. That vice president, Kamala Harris, explicitly announced the incoming administration would replace “equality” with “equity,” which Ibram X. Kendi defined as “present discrimination.” In office, Biden proved as good as Harris’ word. The White House boasted, “On his first day in office, the President issued an executive order establishing a government-wide initiative to put equity at the heart of each agency’s priorities and management agenda.” He attempted to institute a racially discriminatory program for black farmers (which a series of judges struck down as facially unconstitutional).
The aim of a well-ordered life is to increase in wisdom and stature as one grows older. In this sense, Joe Biden, like Benjamin Button, seems to age in reverse.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.