We’re less than 100 days out from the 2020 presidential election (Nov. 3), and if you haven’t been able to get fired up yet because you don’t love either candidate, it’s time to get behind Joe Biden.
Look, I know. Biden has always been the safe choice, the moderate candidate. It sucks, but the truth is, we need a candidate who is just conservative enough to get the moderate Republicans to change course (because somehow Trump’s everpresent offensive tweets and remarks aren’t doing it).
It’s not ideal, but the bottom line is that it’s either Joe Biden or it’s Donald Trump. With so much at stake, this is not the election to write in your favorite superhero (which, if it’s not Thor, then why bother?) or opt for Kanye’s new third party. You have to vote Biden because he is literally our only shot at a future.
You can learn all about Biden’s plans for when he takes office on his website, but I combed through most of it and it’s a lot to process. Let me break it down for you: in his first 100 days, he’s going to clean up the hot mess that is the Trump presidency. He’s going to end the “National Emergency” that funnels money into the stupid wall, reinstate the civil rights policies that Trump rolled back, actually address the COVID-19 situation, and he’s going to put actual experts in his cabinet instead of lobbyists (don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Betsy DeVos).
He’s going to do more than just clean house, though. He’s going to drive real change. It’s not going to be Bernie change, but when you get into the nitty-gritty of his proposals, there are a few that are pretty great. Let’s get into it.
1. End Incarceration For Illicit Drug Use Charges & Decriminalize Cannabis Use
One key point in Biden’s Justice Reform Plan is to put an end to jail sentences for illicit drug use charges. Additionally, Biden will decriminalize the use of marijuana and plans to expunge all prior marijuana use convictions. Since he only has control over justice at the federal level, not state, he will “incentivize” states to do the same by expanding funding for both state and local drug courts.
This. Is. Huge. According to the Center for American Progress, every 25 seconds someone in America is arrested for drug possession.
This particularly affects the black community as black people are six times more likely to be arrested for drug-related offenses. Not to mention that black folks convicted of drug offenses are typically given considerably more time than a white peer convicted of the same charge.
Note: Decriminalizing cannabis is not legalizing it and drug use/possession charges are different from drug sales/possession.
2. Strengthen Assult Victim Protections
First, he wants guaranteed paid work leave for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking to provide some recovery time to seek mental health care, relocate if necessary, and/or take “other steps to recover.” Unlike FMLA (which is unpaid and has a lot of qualifiers), this plan will include part-time employees, independent contractors, and small business employees regardless of how long they’ve been employed.
Second, Biden will reinstate the Title IX guidelines for assault victim protections (at the college level) that Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos eliminated in May of 2020. These guidelines make it easier for victims to safely report assault and they hold universities accountable for investigating the assaults. Biden will also go a step further by “increasing fines imposed on colleges for failing to report statistics about campus safety.”
3. Protect Black Trans Women
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, one in four trans people have been victim of “bias-driven assault” and violence. Additionally, the trans community is at an elevated risk of murder, with trans women or girls making up 75% of “lethal anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes” victims, and black trans women or girls are disproportionately affected.
Biden plans to address this unsettling trend head-on. He says his administration will make prosecuting the murderers of trans people “a priority” and will redirect funds “to help prevent violence against transgender women, particularly transgender women of color” in his first 100 days in office.
Note: In order to create pointed policies to specifically address violence against black transgender women, there needs to be more data to work from. This plan is the first step in that process.
4. End the Rape Kit Backlog
The rape kit backlog is a real problem in the U.S. Of the 111,390 kits that were inventoried and tracked by the end of 2019, the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative determined that only 55% of those were sent for lab testing and only 9,892 were matched in CODIS (the FBI’s national DNA database).
It’s important to note that the total number of rape kits in the backlog is most likely underreported. According to the organization End the Backlog, many states don’t even have a system in place to keep track of rape kits. This makes it pretty difficult to nail down the actual number of kits that have gone untested.
To combat this, Biden plans to increase funding for the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, which supports “jurisdictional reform” to update and improve internal resources and better educate law enforcement to not only end today’s backlog but also prevent a future backlog.
Additionally, Biden will create Regional Sexual Assault Investigative Training Academies and lead efforts for law enforcement reform to address “attitudes that lead to the neglect of testing for rape kits.
5. Allow Gender Change On Government Issued IDs
When he was Vice President under Obama, Biden helped update policies regarding gender changes on passports to represent gender identification as M, F, or X (nonbinary). Once he’s in office, he will push this further by supporting state and federal efforts and policy changes that will allow transgender and non-binary people to change their gender identity on all government identifications and documentations.
Note: Driver’s license and birth certificate changes are done at the state level, so he cannot change laws in individual states, but can incentivize them with funds and endorsements.