The 2020 presidential election is unlike any we have seen before — amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the national reckoning over systems of oppression, including racial inequities, police brutality, disparities in health care and economic opportunity, there is much at stake on Nov. 3. Over the past four years, President Donald Trump has divided the citizenry, corrupted democracy, condoned propagators of hate, stolen children from their parents, aligned himself with hostile foreign powers and failed to adequately protect the country from a virus that has since claimed more lives than any other nation and continues to run rampant. The Daily Trojan Editorial Board, for these reasons and many more, officially endorses Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
The endorsement of a Biden-Sen. Kamala Harris ticket is a call to restore the dignity of the presidency. Beyond the flurry of constant conspiracy theories and racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, colonialist and dangerously misguided anti-science rhetoric and tweets, the current administration has soiled the very notion of what acceptable and ethical leadership ought to look like. A Biden administration affirms that elected leadership cannot, and should not, use hate and fear-mongering to push sectarian buttons.
Setting the character and integrity of a Trump administration aside, the choice we make on Tuesday will invariably affect our future and redefine the political landscape of this country. Given the recent confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, securing a 6-3 conservative majority, and our Republican-majority Senate, it is imperative that we push back now and instill hope in the citizenry that meaningful change can and will occur . There are many reasons to support a Biden-Harris ticket over a Trump-Vice President Mike Pence one — here, we’ll touch on just a few.
It is not an exaggeration by any stretch that the sitting president has failed to adequately manage the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has ignored and contradicted top health experts, suggested that masks are ineffective and pushed states to reopen quickly at the cost of more than 200,000 lives. A Biden administration, on the other hand, would allow scientists to spearhead the national pandemic response. He is a proponent of mask-wearing and has promised to expand contact tracing and at-home testing.
There is no reason to believe a second-term Trump presidency would do anything differently than the first, and giving them the benefit of the doubt on that matter alone could mean the difference between a robust national response to the virus or thousands more lives lost.
On that note, our access to health care is also on the ballot, perhaps now more than ever. For the last four years, the GOP has been aiming to repeal the Affordable Care Act with little success. Now, with a majority-conservative Supreme Court, Republicans are conspicuously seeking to overturn the ACA and Roe v. Wade.
Biden, on the other hand, has promised to defend the ACA from legal and congressional challenges and expand its coverage to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipients. Health care is a human right, as is a person’s right to choose in the realm of reproduction. It is essential we have a leader for health care justice and reproductive rights in the White House.
It goes without saying that disparities in health care disproportionately affect communities of color and marginalized groups — Black and brown Americans get sick and die from the coronavirus at rates higher than white people and higher than their share of the general population. We live in a country where people have to fret for their livelihoods due to the color of their skin and Trump exacerbates this problem.
He has failed to condemn white supremacist groups, made countless racist remarks toward Latinx immigrants, banned entry of individuals from majority-Muslim countries and repeatedly called the coronavirus “the Chinese virus.” The sitting president has continued to exemplify his willful negligence in shaping a country that is accepting of all individuals, not just white men.
Currently, Biden’s plan to address racial disparities include protecting and constructing affordable housing, allocating $30 billion to minority-owned businesses, securing the rights of workers of color to fair compensation and making public universities and historically Black colleges and universities free for families whose annual incomes are less than $125,000. This, among other legislation addressing disparities in infrastructure, poses a stark contrast to the incumbent President, who does not and would not have any concrete plans to address systemic racism and inequality in the United States
Trump’s two — yes, only two — main priorities in addressing racial disparities consist of keeping unemployment rates down and supporting minority-owned businesses. These objectives are based solely on economic gain; they decisively fail to address the roots that allow systems of oppression to blossom and impale marginalized communities on their thorns.
The harm at the hands of the police system and lack of accountability are a reality that has haunted the United States and the world. With the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery igniting the continuation of the Black Lives Matter movement this summer, race relations between police and Black community members have been once again cast into the spotlight. Although neither Biden nor Trump seem to fully grasp the extent of corruption and racial violence that is embedded in the police system, the differences between how these two candidates feel about police brutality are clear.
Trump, for one, has continually labeled BLM protestors as thugs and criminals. He sent the National Guard to attack peaceful protestors, tweeting threats such as “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Trump has denied that the use of the police force or policing system in general is in need of any changes and instead assumes the support of police while dismissing and trivializing the death of Black lives.
In contrast, Biden has explicitly laid out ways to reform policing through more comprehensive training and a number of other reforms. Although these initiatives are by no means sufficient to address the deep racialization and corruption of the police system, the alternative is to live in Trump’s complacency and blissful denial.
There is also an existential threat on the ballot. Under the Trump administration, much of the environmental protections put in place by the Obama administration have been reviewed and rolled back. In his first year in office, Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, a multinational collaborative effort to combat climate change. Trump has raised his own doubts about global warming, retorting “I don’t think science knows, actually,” when asked if climate change contributed to the September record-breaking wildfires in California.
Conversely, Biden’s Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice relies on the Green New Deal as a framework for one of the most progressive climate plans ever proposed in U.S. history. Biden and Harris have pledged to work toward a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest, investing in infrastructure and clean energy improvements to prevent and withstand climate change. The proposed plan emphasizes environmental justice, taking action against polluters and industries who are disproportionately harming vulnerable communities.
For some, particularly unsatisfied progressives, a temptation not to vote might prevail on Election Day. However, for those who are discouraged — perhaps Biden was not your first, second or even third choice — it is essential to keep one thing in mind: Biden’s platform, despite not reaching the progressive heights set out by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, is still the most progressive platform of any Democratic nominee in the party’s modern history.
This is not some contrived attempt to make Biden, a 77-year-old white man, suddenly palatable to young progressives; it is simply the truth. Even Waleed Shahid, communications director for Justice Democrats, the same group that worked to get Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar elected, said as much in a recent interview with Vox. Americans cannot let their notions of the perfect candidate be an obstacle to the groundbreaking good that a Biden administration could bring about.
Coming from a primary election cycle marked by historic progressivism, Biden has also demonstrated an ability to learn from his colleagues and shift his own policies in a progressive direction. He has adopted plans from his chief primary rivals — progressive Sanders and Warren. From Sanders, he has pledged to make public colleges and universities free (to those with family incomes below $125,000); from consumer protection expert Warren, he has adopted her bankruptcy reform plan, which would allow student debt relief in bankruptcy. This diametrically opposes him to our sitting president, who shuns compromise and progress.
It cannot be overstated that Tuesday’s vote will be a defining moment in U.S. history. To the Daily Trojan Editorial Board, the choice is clear: The Trump administration epitomizes everything that is backwards, indecent and shameful about our nation’s past and present. A Biden presidency represents an opportunity to rebuild, reform and look toward a better future.
Though the Daily Trojan Editorial Board officially endorses the Biden-Harris ticket and calls on all those who can vote to do so, we also feel any presidential endorsement is incomplete without an explicit mention of the voter suppression occurring across the nation. We acknowledge that the democratic process is, in many ways, broken and that it will not be fixed without substantive systemic reform and activism beyond voting. That being said, we still believe it is necessary to support Biden’s nomination to the fullest degree.