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DSA Socialist Feminists Call on Joe Biden to Drop Out

24-Jul-2020Socialist Survivors

DSA Socialist Feminists have initiated a call for Joe Biden to drop out of the presidential race based on the credible allegations of sexual assault by Tara Reade. It is important that #MeToo supporters be consistent in rooting out sexual violence wherever it appears, and not just when it is politically convenient. Reform & Revolution has signed onto this statement.

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stands accused of sexual assault. Members of the Democratic Socialists of America demand that he leave the race.

As socialists, we believe that the lessons of the #MeToo movement must not be forgotten. This movement challenged rape culture and upended myths about sexual violence and the credibility of survivors. For a short period, these issues were even embraced by many liberal politicians and commentators, as evidenced by the widespread support for Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford when she bravely spoke out about incumbent Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. #MeToo made previously tolerated behavior intolerable, and powerful men in numerous industries faced consequences for their misconduct.

Now, less than two years later, former Vice President Joe Biden is accused of sexually assaulting Tara Reade, a staff assistant who was abruptly let go by his office in 1993. The refusal of progressive and liberal forces to take this accusation seriously threatens to undo the progress made by the movement against sexual assault. This progress is bolstered by #MeToo and built on the foundation of countless other movements against sexual violence that came before it: the battered women’s movement, the anti-rape movement, campus sexual assault activism, and others. Generations have fought and organized against assault and harassment on the shop floor, and freedom from harassment and abuse remains a core issue for working people throughout the country and around the world. By defending Biden and attempting to discredit Reade, public figures and journalists are reviving the old standards of believability that kept generations of survivors from coming forward. Some progressives and feminists have attempted to acknowledge Reade’s legitimacy as a survivor while positing that Biden’s stature in the 2020 election against Trump is too important to risk damaging his chances by addressing the accusations.

We disagree. In fact, we believe it will only strengthen Trump’s agenda, should Biden’s behavior go unchallenged.

Joe Biden’s conduct towards women as described by Tara Reade, as well as the seven other women who have alleged inappropriate and unwanted touching, is precisely the kind of behavior that pushes women and queer folks out of political organizations, including not just the Democratic Party, but also progressive, leftist, and socialist groups. We lose brilliant comrades, either because they experience sexual violence and harassment first hand or because they are asked to overlook sexual violence and harassment. Granting power to accused perpetrators, like Biden, manufactures consent that reverberates back onto our own political communities. We in the DSA know that our organization and its members have work to do in building accountability processes and beginning to repair harm done within our own ranks. How we respond to Tara Reade impacts the multi-racial, multi-gendered, and genuinely liberatory political organization we aim to build.

Just four months ago, the Democratic presidential primary race was full of candidates, most of whom are not facing a well-corroborated accusation of sexual assault. DNC delegates can be transferred to any one of them to replace Joe Biden as the nominee. We don’t think one’s opinion on who should represent the Democratic Party in 2020 has bearing on the crucial point: Joe Biden is replaceable, but the gains of #MeToo are not. This allegation is bigger than one individual politician. We reject the idea that we must sacrifice our principles and swallow our trauma, as though Biden were our only hope against Trump. The general election is still six months away. If we ignore this allegation of sexual assault made against one of the most powerful men in the country, we do an immediate disservice to all survivors of sexual violence, now and in the future.

We, the undersigned, call on Joe Biden to leave the race. We also call on elected officials endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America to rescind any endorsements of Joe Biden.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN YOUR NAME as an individual or e-mail to sign on as a collective, caucus, working group, or chapter.