Timberlake: A call for democratic unity

Timberlake: A call for democratic unity
Timberlake: A call for democratic unity

Let’s not undermine the lead here. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are the choice of Democratic voters who won the primaries, making them the best candidates in the race. As a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in August, I stand with them because they are the ones I and the Democratic people voted for and who we must focus on to defeat Trump in November. The Biden-Harris team beat Trump once, and they can beat him again.

Before the race, we knew how old the President is and that he has struggled publicly with a mild stutter throughout his life. These aspects should not be used against him. In any other context, disqualifying someone based on these characteristics is discriminatory.

If anyone wanted to challenge the Biden-Harris ticket, the primary was the time to do so. But no one did, because President Biden’s record speaks for itself:

President Biden led a lifesaving COVID-19 vaccination campaign, addressed gun violence with the bipartisan Safer Communities Act, and reduced health care costs through the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act. He supported manufacturing and innovation with the CHIPS and Science Act, passed a bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure package to improve public works projects, and allocated $369 billion for climate change initiatives. He oversaw the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, championed student loan forgiveness, reduced child poverty through historic social welfare measures, and implemented a prescription drug price cap for seniors.

While some Democrats are calling for President Biden to be replaced, I am firmly opposed to letting us focus on what we need to focus on, which is electing the Biden-Harris team. If a president can’t finish his term, that’s the vice president’s job, and Kamala Harris is perfectly capable of stepping in. Ignoring Harris, a qualified Black and Asian woman, in the potential replacement shows underlying racism and sexism, which is wrong. Especially considering that Black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party, and Vice President Harris is literally next in line.

If Trump wins, he will be a dictator, as he himself has said, and after the Jan. 6 coup attempt that killed Capitol Police officer, military veteran, and New Jersey native Brian Sicknick, I believe him. If re-elected, Trump will appoint more conservative Federalist justices to the Supreme Court, and Project 2025, orchestrated by his previous administration, will abolish unions, free speech, religious freedom, immigration, affirmative action, and more, turning our country into a military state.

Yet Democrats are debating whether Joe Biden is too old after a debate, while Republicans are sticking with their candidate, a convicted felon and anti-democratic leader.

If we discuss changing candidates now, we risk another Trump victory and jeopardize our democracy and the freedoms we hold so dear. As Democrats, we must unite, use our time wisely, and put principles above politics.

As a delegate for President Joe Biden, one of the most successful presidents in our history, I know that age and a stutter alone cannot “trump” the threat of a dictator driven by racism.

BRitnee N. Timberlake is a U.S. Democratic elected official, civil rights activist, nonprofit executive, and humanitarian. She has represented the 34th Legislative District in the New Jersey Senate since January 2024, when she became the youngest New Jersey State Senator. Prior to taking office in the Senate, Timberlake represented the 34th District in the New Jersey General Assembly since January 29, 2018. When she was sworn in while late in her pregnancy, she replaced her longtime mentor and friend Sheila Y. Oliver, who took office as Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey. Timberlake served as Freeholder President of the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, where she was the only African American woman in the state to serve as Chair of a Freeholder Board at the time. Her legislative work includes fighting big banks, the $15-an-hour legislation, regulating New Jersey’s taxpayers, raising the minimum wage, the nation’s strongest environmental justice laws requiring an independent investigation when someone dies in custody or in contact with police, housing protections during the COVID-19 pandemic, a plethora of bills on infant and maternity health and women’s rights, the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, the Community Wealth Preservation Program that helps families save their homes in the event of foreclosure, and more.

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