Tara Reade, Lesser Evilism, and Shifting the Blame

This article contains a graphic description of sexual assault and could be triggering to some readers.

In March of this year, Tara Reade, a former staff assistant for Joe Biden’s office when he was a US Senator, accused the presidential candidate of sexual assault. According to her account, Biden suddenly pressed her up against the wall, forcefully spread her legs, reached under her dress, and penetrated her with his fingers.

The response by Democrat Party officials and apologists to these allegations speaks volumes to the character of this party. From deadening silence to blatant rape apology, their reaction overwhelmingly shifted the blame to the alleged victim. Biden himself waited several weeks before responding directly to the allegations, only to deny them outright, asking why, after 27 years, Reade was only raising this now. He wasn’t alone in using this line of attack. Other prominent Democrats like Diane Feinstein joined in questioning why Reade waited so long to make her account public.

It’s common for survivors to take time before coming forward—sometimes a long time—often because they fear that they’ll be called liars for doing so. This is precisely what members of the Biden campaign did once Reade’s story hit the headlines. Lindy Li, one of several Biden campaign staffers who called Reade a liar, even went so far as to say that both Reade and the journalist who broke Reade’s story should face legal action for publishing it. When asked whether Biden should directly respond to the allegations, Nancy Pelosi’s response was to deflect because “we have an important election at hand.”

This sums up the Democrats’ response and explains why, thus far, only two prominent Democrats have publicly stated they believe Reade. It also explains why, in the very next breath, they uniformly say it won’t change their vote for Biden.

Although Reade came forward with sexual misconduct claims in April 2019, there was a dearth of news coverage early on. It wasn’t until this past March that the story seriously gained traction, with The Intercept among the first to break the news in 2020.

Joe Biden is a professional Democratic Party politician committed to defending the interests of the capitalist class. The liberal press has reciprocated by attacking the accuser’s credibility and consistency, highlighting her inability to pay rent, and focusing on changes in her political views and sexual preferences.

The contrast is stark when juxtaposed to the liberal media’s response to Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh two years earlier. News organizations that were sympathetic to Ford have taken a victim-blaming approach in the case of Reade. Back when a Republican was accused, Nancy Pelosi called for an FBI investigation into the Supreme Court Justice nominee. Now, with a fellow Democrat accused in 2020, Pelosi writes off the allegations with the trite phrase, “Joe Biden is Joe Biden.”

Nancy Pelosi at Tax convention
Pelosi wrote off the allegations by saying “Joe Biden is Joe Biden.” / Image: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Bernie Sanders’s former national press secretary, Symone Sanders, passionately defended Ford in 2018. In 2020, as a senior advisor to Biden’s campaign, she outright denied Reade’s story and deleted tweets prior to 2019—including anything sympathetic to Ford. Biden himself said in 2018 that we should presume women are telling the truth when they come forward—only to backpedal in 2020 and say he merely meant that they should be heard.

This drastic difference betrays the hollowness of their support for survivors. The Democratic Party politicians and their strategists are well aware of this double standard—but that hasn’t stopped them from perpetuating it.

In both their reporting and op-eds, an inverted parallel can be found in the bourgeois media. This typically takes the form of dismissing allegations based on “inconsistencies.” They latch onto secondary details to present the survivor as untrustworthy, a strategy effectively used by Fox News in 2018 and MSNBC in 2020. When it comes to remembering or misremembering minute details, one New York Times op-ed writer defended Ford’s inconsistencies in 2018 while taking Reade to task in 2020 for her “ambiguities.” This, in a piece in which the author lampshaded their rape apology to justify it.

What are labeled as “inconsistencies” are, in reality, more details coming into view. This is not uncommon for survivors, who often take years to come forward, take time to describe what happened fully, and remember some specific details while missing others. That Ford and Reade share these similarities is entirely consistent with having survived assault due to how trauma affects the mind. Bourgeois publications overlook these similarities because it’s not in their interest to give them the weight they deserve. Contrary to what they profess, the pursuit of truth is not why they exist, and this is proved by their response here.

Another illuminating example is the contrast to another well-known politician accused of sexual assault and rape: Donald Trump. In 2016, the liberal media leaned heavily on these accusations to bully people into voting for rape-apologist Hillary Clinton. Four years later, they are bending over backward, making excuses for Biden. The Huffington Post pays lip service to survivors “grappling” with “putting aside trauma”—but still strongly urges them to vote for Biden. Business Insider argues that you can vote for Biden without discrediting Reade. In 2016 Quartz published 100 reasons why a Republican shouldn’t vote for Donald Trump. There are apparently none for why a Democrat shouldn’t vote for Joe Biden in 2020.

Trump-President-US Flag
In 2016, the liberal media leaned heavily on the accusations of sexual assault and rape against Trump to bully people into voting for rape-apologist Hillary Clinton. / Image via Pikist

Such is the case with the greater evil—any reason is a good reason not to vote for them. But those same reasons do not apply to the so-called lesser evil. Juxtaposed with the greater evil, the only valid measurement is the quantitative difference between them—qualitative similarities disappear from the analysis. In Bill Maher’s words, Biden is “our only hope against Trump.” Such is the disgusting hypocrisy of liberalism.

And yet, Biden was not always the “only” alternative to Trump. Millions hoped against hope that Bernie Sanders would challenge Trump in the general election. As is well known, however, he met with fierce resistance from the party establishment. They castigated the Vermont Senator as a sexist with problematic supporters. Lindy Li, who called Tara Reade a liar on multiple occasions, even stated publicly that she would not vote for Sanders should he win the primary because of his alleged sexism. Not only this, but the DNC members discussed changing the rules to stop Sanders at the convention before a single vote was cast.

After he won several states early in the contest, dozens of party officials threatened to choose a different candidate should Sanders win a plurality. In the end, they successfully derailed his campaign, and he pledged loyalty yet again to the very people who had stabbed him in the back—and the front. Neither that nor these people’s blatant double standards should come as a surprise.

It should be apparent by now that I am not unbiased—I believe Tara Reade. Socialist Revolution does not support bourgeois candidates, but even if Biden were a socialist running independent of the Democrats, I would not vote for him because I do not vote for predators.

Protesters holding a "Believe Survivors" and a "No More Rapists" Sign in response to Brett Kavanaugh proceedings.
“Even if Biden were a socialist running independent of the Democrats, I would not vote for him because I do not vote for predators.”  / Image: Mobilus In Mobili, Flickr

It is the bourgeois politicians and press that have created an environment that led to threats against Reade. This is happening to her because she has dared raise allegations against the capitalist establishment’s preferred candidate.

There is a subtle but essential difference in the so-called “progressive” wing of the Democrat party. These politicians don’t say they don’t believe her. Because they do, but they won’t stop supporting Biden anyway. This is because they are under the pressure and discipline of a capitalist party and the system as a whole.

To justify this, they resort to an insidious variation of the lesser evil argument—Tara’s story can’t be taken seriously because the person she accused is running against the “greater” evil. As the “Settle for Biden” campaign puts it, not voting or voting third party counts as a vote for the greater evil, and for sexism in general. Regardless of whatever trauma I have, I am told the lesser evil would harm fewer people. But the group of people still being hurt includes me.

Joe Biden
To the liberal pundits, Tara’s story can’t be taken seriously because the person she accused is running against the “greater” evil. / Image: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

If the concept of voting for such a candidate threatens to reopen wounds I spent years sewing back together, is he a lesser evil to someone like me? The Democratic Party politicians and the pundits surrounding them have signaled to me what their priorities are. I’m not one of them.

It’s more important to the Democratic Party that mild social reforms not be imposed on the capitalists than it is to make sure they’re not asking survivors to vote for a rapist. And if even those Democratic politicians who consider themselves socialists merely say that a rape allegation won’t change their vote for the rapist, that tells me just how damn far away they are from “taking over” that party. Quite the contrary—it is they who have been taken over by that party.

I am not the only survivor. Millions of others in this country are traumatized to a greater or lesser extent than myself. Those traumatized by war are being asked to vote for a warmonger. Those traumatized by police brutality are being asked to vote for someone who wants to give the cops even more money. Those traumatized by the opioid epidemic and the so-called “War on Drugs” are being asked to vote for one of its key promoters. And those traumatized by a lifetime of dead-end jobs, poverty, and degradation are being asked to vote for someone who railed against “welfare mothers driving luxury cars.”

Enough is enough! We need a mass socialist party of, by, and for the working class, fighting for socialist revolution. A party funded by and accountable only to the masses must reflect their interests. With the unions’ backing, a workers’ party would give ordinary workers the ability to practice organizing, practice leading, and teaching other workers to organize, lead, and teach on their own. If we want a society organized and run by workers, we must have workers ready to take the reins. Only the conscious action of the masses—not a continuous train of lesser evils—can bring an end to Trump and the system that created him.

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