Justice Democrats' Waleed Shahid: Biden Must Explain Support For Mass Incarceration, Iraq War, Financial Deregulation


In an interview Friday with MSNBC, "Justice Democrats" spokesman Waleed Shahid explained why many on the progressive left are skeptical about a Joe Biden presidential campaign.

"We hear a lot about electability concerns regarding Warren, Harris, or Sanders but Biden has vulnerabilities," he said. "I don't know how he's going to explain to voters who have been affected by his decisions on mass incarceration, the war in Iraq, financial deregulation, and unfair trade deals."

WALEED SHAHID, JUSTICE DEMOCRATS: I think it's really important to bring up Charlottesville, it is a pivotal moment in our country's history. I also think just to respond to some things said earlier -- there's conventional wisdom about Joe Biden's electability and the kind of team he'll put together, but he has --

A lot of the fear around young people and the progressive movement about a Joe Biden candidacy is that he does not have core appeals to a large constituency of the Democratic Party that didn't turn out in 2016, especially young people, people of color, union households and now he has vulnerabilities with democratic women. I think a lot of these, one major reason why Democrats lost in 2016 was that voters were not that energized about, those voters were not that energized about the candidate and the message, and I think on issue after issue, Joe Biden has chosen the wrong side of history on where the Democratic Party is going.

So, if you look at the major decisions that he's made over his political career whether it's being the architect of policies that led the U.S. to having the largest prison population in the world, or the Anita Hill hearings, or the vote for the war in Iraq, whether it's standing up for credit card companies and standing up for Wall Street in a moment that needed leadership. He has been on the wrong side of those decisions and I think he has a lot of vulnerabilities around electability. We hear electability concerns around Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders or Kamala Harris and I think Joe Biden has a lot of vulnerabilities we should be talking about.

MSNBC: And that is the core of where Justice Democrats is, that Biden stands in near opposition to where the energy in the Democratic party is. But let me ask you, it is day two of his campaign. Why not listen to what he has to say now first?

SHAHEED: In part, because Joe Biden has been in politics for 40 years and those key decisions he's made, I don't know how he's going to explain to voters who have been affected by his decisions on mass incarceration, the war in Iraq, and financial deregulation and unfair trade deals. Those are concerns that need to be raised that are part of his political career. He is leaning on his experience as a Democratic leader as his reason for running. But I think that there are fresh voices in the Democratic Party who are bringing new things to the table and part of the reason we have 20 candidates in the mix at this time is because people at the top of the Democratic Party historically haven't made room for fresh voices in the party. In 2016, if the election was kind of about change versus the status quo, I think there are legitimate fears of that being, again, the way that 2020 is decided. There is a lot of things to already go on Joe Biden, particularly things he said about, you know, the progressive movement and about young people and he has been historically a centrist and moderate in the party.

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