When it comes to Joe Biden, Democrats have an enthusiasm problem, and Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is the latest example.
In an interview with Newsweek contributor Steve Friess, Tlaib said she would not be endorsing the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. But Tlaib, who represents Detroit and is a member of the progressive “Squad,” is no friend of President Trump.
“If there is one person who wants Donald Trump out of the White House, it's me,” Tlaib stated. “And I'm going to work extremely hard. . . Why? Because my residents cannot afford another four years of Trump. They just can't.”
Tlaib has long been a vocal supporter of Bernie Sanders, whom she endorsed back in October. Her reluctance to fully back Biden may stem from resentment toward the D.N.C.’s handling of the 2016 Democratic Primary as well as Sanders’ concession to Biden in the 2020 primary, despite early wins in important swing states.
According to Tlaib, however, the reason she won’t officially endorse Biden is because she doesn’t want to get into a “debate” with her constituents. Rather than dwell on who the Democratic nominee is, Tlaib said she’s focused on the big picture.
“If the ultimate goal is to get rid of Donald Trump, that doesn't have to involve me actually endorsing Biden,” she said. “My constituents don't need to be bogged down in, ‘Is he the best candidate?’ That's not what you have to convince my residents. They need to come out in droves and be inspired by something. And that is going to be a vote against Donald Trump.”
Tlaib is up for reelection and currently faces a competitive primary against Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, a fixture of the local Democratic Party. Tlaib said she’ll be channeling her energies toward getting people to vote, both in her race and for president.
“One thing that I know is I'm going to be really focused on turnout in the fall,” she noted. “When I focus on turnout, we will deliver Michigan to Joe Biden. Trump only won Michigan by 10,000 votes. When I turn out my folks and my district, we'll be able to take back the state. When you focus primarily on getting people out to vote in a district like mine, [Biden] wins.”
Tlaib isn’t the only former Sanders supporter disenchanted by Biden. Former Sanders campaign co-chair Nina Turner had a memorable analogy to express her distaste for voting Biden.
“It’s like saying to somebody, ‘You have a bowl of sh-- in front of you, and all you’ve got to do is eat half of it instead of the whole thing.’ It’s still sh--," Turner explained to the Atlantic.
Cornel West, a Harvard professor who also supported Sanders in the primary, had a similar stance in the article.
"We have to be true to ourselves and acknowledge that Biden is a mediocre, milquetoast, neoliberal centrist that we’ve been fighting against in the Democratic establishment," he said.
A recent poll found that 42 percent of Trump supporters polled described themselves as excited heading into the election, while 31 percent of Biden supporters said the same. Additionally, 65 percent of Biden supporters surveyed said they are frustrated about the upcoming election, compared to 45 percent of Trump supporters. As an op-ed in the Hill noted recently, the candidate who has led on enthusiasm has won every presidential election since 1988, including in 2016. Only time will tell if the same will be said of 2020.