Politics & Policy

Will Biden’s Delaware Become Biden’s America?

Event attendees are seen reflected in the sunglasses of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in Charlotte, N.C., September 23, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
Take it from a Delawarean: America does not want to see President Biden

At the Democratic National Convention, presidential hopeful Joe Biden told the audience, “This is a life-changing election. This will determine what America is going to look like for a long, long time.” Based on the status of his beloved Delaware, we should all be wary.

I’m a young Delawarean who didn’t get to experience life with duPont, General Motors, or the banking boom, but I come from a multi-generation family of Delawareans who remember when this was the place to be. In my 24 years here, I’ve seen enough to know that we don’t want the rest of America to resemble the current First State.

The first concern is bringing the “Delaware Way,” where political pals make sure each other’s bills are moved and help to hand-pick who will follow them in major political offices, to the national level. The Delaware Way may be cherry-picking successors based on friends and deals, but isn’t the friendly operation Biden makes it out to be. It is corrupt and exactly what is wrong with politics.

There is no hope left here. We grow up in a state that prides itself on being a place where everyone’s “mated, dated, or related,” but where jobs and dreams are no longer created. I grew up in a middle-class Delaware family and went to Biden’s alma mater, but I’ve never seen the Delaware Biden talks about—because it is long gone. Now that I work for a pro-business organization here, I am certain Biden’s Delaware and middle-class understanding are a façade.

Biden has positioned himself to be a voice for the middle class and the blue-collar worker despite being a career politician who does not understand that life. Biden’s house is in the part of Wilmington where you find the bankers, doctors, and corporate lawyers, far from the desolate neighborhoods in the city proper that struggle for work, food, housing, and a decent education for their children.

He has publicly stated that “for people to live a middle-class life, it’s more about their security and a standard of living than any particular number,” but Delaware’s quality of life is ranked 34th in the nation and the state consistently ranks at or near the bottom nationally for unemployment, economy, cost of living, and housing affordability. These numbers matter to Delawareans, and to most Americans who live true middle-class (and lower-class) lives that are drastically impacted by the effects of those numbers.

The state’s individual-income-tax burden is in the top half of the nation, with one of the highest individual income taxes. Delaware now has the highest real-estate transfer tax in the nation and is one of only seven states with a gross receipts tax, which tends to impact lower incomes the most.

Despite all of this taxation, Delawareans get very little bang for their buck. Our taxpayer return on investment (ROI) is near the bottom nationally, even with some of the highest taxes per capita. We spend more on education and health care than most other states, yet continue to see outcomes that put us in the bottom of national ranks.

Perhaps the most notable failure of tax-money management was a Biden-supported deal with Fisker Automotive, a California hybrid-electric-car company that received $21.5 million from Delaware and over $500 million in federal aid in 2009. The deal, announced by former governor Jack Markell and Vice President Biden, was intended to bring around 2,500 green jobs to the state.

“Folks, we’re making a bet,” said Biden regarding the deal with Fisker, which was already reporting continuous losses and anticipated higher costs at the time of the funding.

Fisker never made a single car in Delaware.

If this is the voice for the middle class we’ll get, we should prefer to be mute. Biden cannot effectively lead his proposed effort to “Build Back Better” when his home state’s economy and business climate were crippled long before COVID and are recovering worse than most other states.

Delaware is failing, but you won’t hear that from Joe Biden. His buddies have left the middle class, small businesses, and communities behind. “Uncle Joe” gets to spin a tale of Delaware that makes him more appealing to the demographics that have been left behind here. I get to step outside of my door and see the truth. I see and report on the reality of Biden leadership every day for a living.

I have lived in the aftermath of Biden politics and leadership for my whole life. I wouldn’t want America to live in it for four years.

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected since its initial publication. The survey cited in the text ranks Delaware as 34th best in the nation, not 47th, as the original version said.

Zoe Callaway, a lifelong middle-class Delawarean from Seaford, is the executive director of A Better Delaware, a pro-business PAC in the state that focuses on economy, business, and government transparency and accountability in Delaware.

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