Ignoring Tara Reade produces the very cynicism that Donald Trump feeds on
The longer that Democrats ignore the sexual assault accusation against Joe Biden, the more ammunition they provide to the High Priest of Hypocrisy.
With each passing day, it is becoming plainer that Tara Reade’s accusation against Joe Biden falls squarely within the category of credible accusations that the #MeToo movement has argued must be fully investigated, regardless of the power and public reputation of the accused. Increasingly, then, the primary argument among progressives for ignoring the accusation is about neither Reade nor Biden, but the guy this election has been about from the start.
As unfortunate and distasteful as it may be to fudge on our principles, this argument goes, nothing would be more unethical than to allow Donald Trump four more years in office, which leaves us no choice but to loyally support his opponent at all costs. It’s a powerful argument, and it’s dead wrong.
Continuing to blindly support Joe Biden in the face of a credible sexual assault accusation will strengthen Donald Trump. It ties all who despise this White House to an increasingly weakened opponent. Even worse, it is deeply cynical, and this president feeds on cynicism the way Emperor Palpatine feeds on hatred.
Trump’s core message is that we are all as awful as he is, and his theory of the case is that deep down we know it. That’s why the White House and Fox News seize on every real and imagined instance of left wing hypocrisy: they want us to believe that anyone who says they’re willing to fight for someone they don’t know is either a globalist scammer or a socialist dupe, and that the only guy you can trust is the reality show conspiracy theorist who doesn’t pretend he’s telling the truth.
This awful message has worked well enough to win close enough to a majority, in part because it’s been promoted by the right wing misinformation factory created by Rupert Murdoch and the Koch Brothers, but also because progressives have too often given them material to work with.
When the millions who marched against George Bush’s wars became dozens holding vigils against Obama’s wars, when the outrage created by the Trump administration putting migrant children in cages had no parallel to similar if less widespread policies under Obama and Biden, credence was given to the idea that our protests are not heartfelt expressions of humanity and solidarity but just politics as usual.
Now we are faced with the argument that the same moral poison must be administered to the issue of sexual assault in order to stop Donald Trump, who is undoubtedly, after all, a far worse sexual offender than Joe Biden could possibly be. But Joe Biden’s continued candidacy has now negated whatever factor Trump’s long history of accusations could play in the election. What could better assuage the guilty conscience of Republican swing voters troubled by the accusations against Trump than Democrats putting forward a similarly compromised alternative?
Joe Biden’s premise has been that because Donald Trump is a tyrant, to stop him we need to choose the safest possible candidate who will offend no one — least of all the powerful interests who were alarmed by the rivals to his left. This theory was always flawed because many Democratic voters found aspects of Biden’s record to be quite offensive, but that debate is now moot. Biden is no longer safe and uncontroversial. And the longer Democrats refuse to begin at least setting out the process for choosing a replacement candidate the longer they are doing lasting damage to progressive politics, this year and beyond.
Donald Trump is a tyrant, but the way to fight a tyrant, at the ballot box and everywhere else, is not by cowering in fear behind a fatally flawed opponent but by showing the courage of your convictions and giving others the confidence to fight alongside you.