Opinion Extra

Op-ed: Biden has strong record of pushing for civil rights

The Democratic Party has a crowded field of incredibly qualified candidates with varied experiences and skills. While I’ve decided to endorse Vice President Joe Biden, I believe that all of the candidates are valid options.

At the beginning of the race, I hoped that this election would be about the future instead of focusing on the past. I believe, as Biden does, that Democrats cannot afford to tear each other down before facing our ultimate opponent: Donald Trump.

My hope was that candidates would not stoop to misrepresenting other candidates records for their own political gain. In the first debate, I was disappointed to see candidates attempt to divide our party and place doubts on Biden’s history with the African American community.

State Sen. Kevin Johnson

Forty years ago many people, both black and white folks, had differing opinions as to whether or not busing was the answer to desegregating our schools. Despite these differences and the actions taken, segregation is alive and well in our public schools and will remain embedded in the structure of our school systems without the right leadership.

This race is about the future. How dare we apply current thinking to how things were done and said in the past? Many of our leaders during that time, including Biden, navigated the political landscape of the time in order to get things done. Biden has been a champion for Civil Rights and he has always done and said what he feels is the best thing, even in tough situations.

The same goes for those of us who have had to work with people we disagree with. During Biden’s time as a young senator, known segregationists were amongst the most powerful in the United States Senate, which in turn meant he had to find a way to work with them.

As Vice President Biden said recently in Sumter, “To get things done for the people you were elected to serve requires you to work with people who may offend every fiber of your being — to achieve a greater good. Some may be down right repugnant...But you adjust. And slowly, but surely you make progress.” As a South Carolina senator, I am all too familiar with the situation that then-Senator Biden found himself in.

I also can’t help but remember the intense vetting process in place when President Obama was deciding on a running mate. If that vet had indicated even a fraction of the insinuations and accusations being thrown at Biden now, he would never have been chosen to run alongside Barack Obama and become an integral part of an historic administration.

His track record as Vice President is conveniently being left out by those who want to run a false narrative against a man who entered public service in the name of Civil Rights. In the words of Barack Obama, “don’t fall for the okey-doke.” And from my conversations with voters in my district, South Carolina isn’t falling for it.

Biden is the one candidate who has moral character, humanity, and values that the American people need to restore our country. Biden will be successful in critical states such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania, and right here in South Carolina, because he is who he is, and he is true to himself.

Biden is the one candidate who has the knowledge, experience, and vision to help us regain the respect and the trust of both our foreign adversaries and allies that has deteriorated under the Trump administration.

Kevin L. Johnson represents District 36 in the South Carolina State Senate. The district includes parts of Clarendon, Darlington, Florence and Sumter counties.