One thing that has helped shape some of Joe Biden’s views in years past and now is at the center of his presidential campaign is what he calls “false consciousness.”
Biden describes people he has known over the years, as in his case, past classmates and friends, having lost their sense of self through what he sees as insufficient opposition to the Vietnam War and the retreats from Cambodia and Laos.
Some of the social tumult in the 1960s — particularly college student-led civil rights demonstrations — also shaped his worldview.
And Biden has long had his criticisms of the Vietnam War. Some of those who lived through the time recall the vice president picking up where President Barack Obama left off.
“I would say Joe Biden is one of us because of his recollection of growing up in that era, which is that everything the 1960s had to offer was amazing,” said Mary K. Durkin, a friend who attended Princeton with Biden.
“It is an exciting time, and he took great pleasure in being in it, and yet he was very conscious of the border of that embracing its extremes and the difficulty we as a society had in dividing the two,” she said.
The “false consciousness” theory underscores Biden’s much-discussed Vietnam war views, which he put on more explicit display last week after making an impassioned plea for more support for U.S. troops in the campaign against the Islamic State.