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Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is a self-proclaimed progressive Democrat who was elected in May 2017.

Credit: Katie Busch

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner urged Democrats to push for more leftist policies and attacked former Vice President Joe Biden's intelligence at a Penn event Tuesday night.

A self-proclaimed progressive Democrat who was elected in May 2017, Krasner discussed his office’s approach to criminal justice reform and analyzed the Democratic primary in a talk hosted by Penn Democrats and Beyond Arrest: Re-Thinking Systematic Oppression.

Krasner criticized Biden's past record and his potential ability to unify the party in 2020.

"Joe Biden doesn't know how to do it," Krasner said. "Joe Biden knows how to mess stuff up."

Krasner critiqued Biden's handling of the Anita Hill hearings in 1991, in which Hill accused then-Supreme Court justice nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Biden presided over the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing of Hill's testimony. The committee has since been criticized for grilling her "in excruciatingly graphic detail."

The precedent Biden set by leading the Hill hearings "messed up" the Senate's handling of Christine Blasey Ford's accusations of sexual assault against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Krasner said.

"The stuff that comes out of [Biden's] mouth is so dumb," Krasner said. "And yet, what does the Democratic Party do? 'Oh, he's electable!' We got the dumbest guy!"

Krasner endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for president on Oct. 30, saying in his endorsement that Warren's "plans fundamentally change how we address crime."

Credit: Katie Busch

Krasner criticized Democratic institutions for crafting platforms that cater overwhelmingly to moderate voters. 

During his time as DA, Krasner has implemented numerous changes, including decriminalizing marijuana, avoiding the death penalty and cash-bail for non-violent offenses, and firing 31 staffers within his first few days in office. This Tuesday, his office rolled out a new policy that would drop low-level drug charges if the defendant provided evidence that they were seeking addiction treatment.

Krasner criticized Democratic institutions for crafting platforms that cater overwhelmingly to moderate voters. By focusing on centrist voters, Krasner said politically disengaged communities are often neglected.

“This, in my mind, is the recipe for how Democrats have lost and lost and lost and lost,”  Krasner said.

Krasner argued this narrative should be flipped and that politicians should be more concerned with producing exciting ideas in order to earn the support of current non-voters. He referenced that he was elected in part because his campaign was able to increase voter turnout during his election.

Penn Dems member and College freshman Emma Wennberg agreed with Krasner’s assessment of the Democratic political approach. 

“I think he’s totally right,” she said. “I think Democrats, out of fear of losing the center, have continued to push for policies that don’t work and that they know don’t work.”

Krasner finished the talk by admitting that the kind of change he was pushing for would not come easily. However, he remained hopeful about the trajectory of the progressive movement. 

“It’s gonna take a long time, but I figure by the time I’m ready to retire maybe one of you will be ready to run for DA,” he said.

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