Joe Biden can, once again, fuck off. After spending months making overtures to environmental organizers about how he’s listening to them, creating a task force with Green New Deal-backing Sanders supporters and strengthening some parts of his climate plan, the Democratic presidential nominee seems to be taking that support for granted. Earlier this week, Biden reiterated that he doesn’t plan to ban fracking. Then on Thursday, dude’s campaign publicized the endorsement of environmental villain, Rick Snyder.
I know Biden is trying to win an election. But to do so, he’s going to have to win over many skeptics who would have preferred a candidate farther to the left. By not only accepting former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s pledged vote but also amplifying Snyder’s endorsement by emailing supporters to check out his op-ed, his campaign seems to be signaling to those voters that he doesn’t care about them at all, and is willing to jeopardize their support for an infamous also-ran Republican.
As a reminder, Snyder is the former Republican governor of Michigan who had a massive role in the majority Black city of Flint’s lead-poisoned water crisis. In 2013, he appointed an emergency manager who prioritized profits over Flint residents’ safety, allowing their water supply to be privatized and switched to a tainted source.
You know what happened next: Nearly 100,000 people were exposed to lead-tainted water. A dozen died of Legionnaires’ disease and an estimated several hundred pregnancies ended in stillbirths. There’s evidence Snyder knew the water crisis was on the way before it started and that he went to great lengths to cover it up. He somehow wasn’t charged with a crime, though he is being sued.
In an op-ed in USA Today on Thursday endorsing Biden, Snyder noted that “President Trump lacks a moral compass” and “ignores the truth” and “facts and science.” Funny, it seems he and the president actually have those traits in common.
Snyder also calls for a return to civility in the nation’s political discourse, which I guess means it’s fine to dehumanize people as long as you aren’t rude about it.
For a guy who’s trying to win over the environmental movement and progressives more broadly, I gotta say, this seems like a bad move for Biden. What’s the point of touting your dubious commitment to racial equality and environmental policy if you’re going to drool over the endorsement of a guy who presided over a historic case of environmental injustice?
I get Biden’s strategy of trying to win over swing voters in a state he needs, but it’s not even like Rick Snyder is a great choice to do so in Michigan. In 2019—the last year of his term as governor—he was the one of the most unpopular governors in the country, with 54% of Michiganders disapproving of him. This is not a man that was winning many hearts and minds, and promoting him isn’t likely to pick off said mythical swing voters.
Instead, Biden could be focusing on issues like childcare, an increased minimum wage, and parental leave which enjoy broad support from members of both parties. Which seems a lot more fruitful to actually winning the support of voters than relying on a guy who’s best known for contributing to poisoning a city.