We are only four months into 2020. So far, the year has been defined by one crisis after another. The year started with the U.S. assassinating Iranian major general Qassem Soleimani by airstrike. In the months that followed, Australia became engulfed in wildfire, the U.S. sustained a presidential impeachment, the Democratic Party saw a tumultuous primary season, and a global pandemic today crowds every aspect of the status quo. The year has also been plagued by uncertainty.
As a 19-year-old, I never expected to have any answers, but I always expected to be able to find answers in the work of experts and reporters. That is not happening anymore. All of my questions, ranging from whether there will be a college semester in the fall to whether I should believe Joe Biden or Tara Reade, are going unanswered.
I keep looking to people older and smarter than me to give me information, but no one has any answers.
Joe Biden, likely to become the Democratic nominee, after being plagued for years of accusations of making women feel uncomfortable, has been accused of sexually assaulting a former employee. On March 26, Tara Reade alleged that then-Senator Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993, when she was the staff assistant in his office on a left-wing podcast called “The Katie Harper Show.” In the month that has followed, multiple news organizations have published investigative reporting into the allegations. The Washington Post listed all of the corroborators of her story thus far, including a former neighbor, colleague, and Reade’s brother. Reade’s brother originally told ABC News that he only remembered Reade telling him of harassment at work from Biden and that he only heard of her account this spring. He later texted ABC News to say that he remembered his sister telling him that Biden “cornered her against a wall” and “put his hands up her clothes” in 1993. Joe Biden has not addressed the allegations, but his campaign has released a statement: “What is clear about this claim: it is untrue. This absolutely did not happen.”
I do not know what to believe. On one hand, there have been corroborators to Tara Reade’s allegations, her neighbor, coworker, brother. Yet, there have been inconsistencies, like Reade’s brother texting ABC News that he remembered Reade telling him of her assault, after originally telling them he only remembered being told about harassment from Biden.
I honestly do not know if she is telling the truth, but neither does just about anyone else. There are only two people in the world that know, Reade and Biden, and I cannot trust either one. What I do know, is that defending Joe Biden from these allegations by saying that “Joe Biden is Joe Biden” is not enough. Democrats need to not blindly believe either Biden or Reade and instead consider the societal and cultural reasons that each of them has for either lying or telling the truth. Instead of blindly defending either party, we need to be calling for a transparent account of the facts, which should include looking at Biden’s Senate papers at the National Archives or University of Delaware.
There are no easy answers here. This year, there are no easy answers anywhere. Be it coronavirus, climate change, or sexual harassment, we are facing new questions to which no one knows any answers. The best any of us can hope for is to consider all the facts with empathy and care.
Anna Hickey is a second-year CLEG major in the School of Public Affairs. She serves as the Chief Editorial Columnist for the Agora.
Image courtesy Gage Skidmore, Matthew Abbott, MTA of New York, U.S. State Department, Creative Commons