Former Vice President Joe Biden has failed to draw sustained excitement among younger voters. (Photo credit: Adam Fagen)
By Perla Duran and Crystyna Barnes
Newark, N.J. and Elm City, N.C.
Joe Biden may have a young person problem.
In recent interviews, four teenagers from the Princeton Summer Journalism Program said they don’t approve of the presumptive Democratic nominee’s policies, especially his resistance to universal health care. They were disturbed by allegations that he inappropriately touched women or made them feel uncomfortable. They felt that he wasn’t reliable or modern enough, but said they would vote for him despite these
Anne Tchuindje lives in Washington, D.C., and Alyssa Ultreras in Oakland, California. Both are 17. In deciding whom to support, they said, a candidate’s authenticity is the most important factor. Alexa Figueroa, 17, of Brentwood, Maryland, and Stephanie Garcia, 16, of New York City, agreed, adding that they’re not confident that Biden will uphold the policies he claims to support.
For example, Biden said he wants to pay educators more and modernize schools. About this, Ultreras wondered: “Is everything you’re emphasizing really going to happen?”
They also feared Biden was cynically trying to reach a specific demographic: people of color. Tchuindje mentioned a recent interview on the popular radio show “The Breakfast
Club,” in which Biden said, “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or
Trump, then you ain’t Black.”
To Ultreras, this attitude is exactly what Biden needs to work on. In a society where people of color face a lot of backlash, she said, “he knows that voters are in a tough position, especially Democrats, where [he’s] your only option. Therefore, like, you’re going to have to pick [him] because you don’t want Trump.”
Biden is making Black people feel either obligated to vote for him, Ultreras explained, or guilty if they don’t.
When asked what other candidates they liked, three students named Sen. Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist U.S. senator from Vermont, who dropped out of the race in April. They said he was a candidate they could rely on to uphold the promises he had
made, as illustrated by his past activism: marching for civil rights in the 1960s and getting arrested for protesting discrimination against Black people in the Chicago school system. The teens also mentioned Sanders’ unwavering support for a government-run “Medicare for all” system.
“I’m disappointed that it got to the point where we have to pick between the lesser of two evils,” Tchuindje said. But she and Ultreras said Biden’s election would halt the current administration’s harmful health care and environmental policies. In that sense, they said, not voting for Biden would be negligent—even dangerous.