Idolizing politicians is dangerous

On Jan. 20, Joe Biden was inaugurated on the steps of the Capitol Building, becoming the 46th president of the United States. As his vice president, Biden chose Kamala Harris, a former Democratic senator and California secretary of state, who became the first woman to ever hold the position. 

Democrats everywhere rejoiced, ecstatic of the new reality that Donald Trump would no longer be running the country. For the past four years, Trump was criticized by politicians, activists and civilians alike for actions that many disagreed with, including banning all travel from predominantly Muslim countries, deporting Latinos and increasing partisan divides that were already pulling America apart at the seams.

Moderates and Democrats might say Biden and Harris are polar opposites of Trump — who is clearly not a role model or someone to be admired. Supporters see the president and vice president as beams of light at the end of a dark tunnel, but placing these two on such a pedestal would be disrespectful to the hundreds of thousands of people of color affected by the racist and oppressive policies passed by these two politicians in their former positions. 

In the current political climate, Biden and Harris are almost seen as celebrities, instead of politicians with immense amounts of power. One trip to Twitter or Instagram will be met with videos and personal montages praising the two, whilst swearing they will be the best administration America has ever seen. 

Biden and Harris consistently promise reform to the criminal justice system, as seen on Biden’s campaign website: “Today, too many people are incarcerated in the United States – and too many of them are black and brown.” Decarceration is a noble idea; however, the 1994 crime bill — which Biden heavily supported as a senator — is a major reason why there ARE too many people in prison, with the majority of them being people of color. The 1994 crime bill saw the federal government providing funds for states to build more prisons, employ 100,000 more cops, and support grant programs that encouraged police officers to carry out more drug-related arrests. This further fueled the disastrous war on drugs, mostly targeting Black communities suffering from the crack epidemic.

Why are we idolizing Biden, who on top of everything else, remarked in 1977, in regards to desegregation of schools, that, “Unless we do something about this, my children are going to grow up in a jungle, the jungle being a racial jungle?” 

During Harris’s time as attorney general in California, she fought to keep nonviolent offenders in prison, even after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered that California reduce its prison population, citing that overcrowding in California prisons was so bad that it was resulting in unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment. 

Some people, like Biden and Harris, have really, really tainted histories. It’s possible that they could have grown out of their old mindsets, but to completely ignore their harmful actions is doing a disservice to everyone affected. Allowing their, and other politicians’, long track records of hypocrisy and racist rhetoric to go unchecked by praising them is dangerous to everyone, Republican or Democrat. 

Another prime example of this can be seen during the span of the Obama administration. President Barack Obama was loved by people everywhere because of his charismatic and outgoing personality. As a result, many turned a blind eye to the massive number of civilian casualties in the Middle East, which resulted from thousands of drone strikes ordered by Obama himself. At one point during a five-month span, a military report that was leaked to the press stated that 90% of casualties suffered from drone strikes in the Middle East were not the intended targets, meaning President Obama was killing civilians so often that casual brutality became the norm. However, it was nearly impossible for his supporters to criticize him because he had garnered an almost cult-like following over the span of his two terms. People had become complacent with his war crimes. 

Nobody is perfect, and it would be ridiculous to assume so. Politicians fall under this same umbrella. But the idolization of politicians often seen on social media and in other areas is extremely dangerous, and it makes it very difficult to criticize them when they do something wrong. 

Remember that politicians are to be constantly criticized and held accountable for their actions, not applauded because they said a witty comment on live television to appease to young people. Stop idolizing politicians.