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Biden’s Cognitive Decline Hashtag is F***** Up

For those who are on Twitter, a newly trending political hashtag has emerged and is dedicated to attacking a potential presidential candidate.

Joe Biden is a contender against Bernie Sanders to be the next Democratic presidential candidate. Yet, as the competition heats up between the two men, supporters of Bernie (or those just not supporting Biden) are quick to point out the former vice president’s blunders.

One Twitter user showed a compilation of Biden’s blunders and cited the symptoms of dementia such as making things up, confusion, memory loss and mental decline. Another Twitter user reposted a speech in which Biden stated he wanted to make healthcare not quality but only affordable.

Other Twitter users have ardently defended Biden, referencing that in the past Biden had a stutter and still slips up. Another Twitter user compiled a thread of videos of Biden speaking as far back as nine to 30 years with a stutter or a gaffe where he has forgotten names and locations before.

Dementia and other mental disorders due to age are not so simple or so quick to diagnose. Labeling an older person with dementia despite not having the medical authority to do so is a very thin ice to tread on. Whenever a person uses a mental disorder to define another person, it is rarely used as a compliment. In most scenarios, it is a way to belittle and infantilize this person, making them appear incompetent and unable to function independently. It is not a way to actually talk about dementia, but to make fun of people.

In the case of Biden, the use of the word dementia or cognitive decline is a way to reduce him not just as a candidate but also as a person. It is a way to attack him as not being a strong leader, a good listener, or with a quick memory. It is a way to further the discussion of disability — in the way where people who are not mentally “normal” or “quick” must have something “wrong” with them. Mental handicaps and physical handicaps alike are still faced with discrimination or stereotypes as seen on how Biden is being treated.

There is nothing wrong about not liking Biden as a presidential candidate. There is nothing wrong about being a Bernie Sanders supporter or a supporter of anyone but Joe Biden. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to elect a privileged old white man as president.

What is wrong is finding ways to ridicule and demean Biden as a person not ideal for the presidency by being ableist and ageist. By attacking his age and his mentality, this is an attack against a community of individuals with disabilities such as the elderly and a political attack nonetheless that further ostracizes people with disabilities.

Picture Source: Alexandre Saraiva

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Mia Boccher
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