By JAX ARMSTRONG, NEHA BHARDWAJ, LUKE CURTIS, NIKKI GHAEMI, ARUSH MEHROTRA, NIMA MOVAHEDI, & OZHAN ZARIFI
1. Joe Biden will protect our air, land, water, endangered species, and people
Combating the growing threat, and considerable damage to climate change has become one of the cornerstones of the Progressive movement. These beliefs were fueled by multiple reports of climate change being catalyzed by human industry, in the form of carbon emissions. Most notably, in a UN assembly meeting, which concluded climate change may have irreversible effects on the natural environment in eleven years if the current progression continues.
Despite the Third and Fourth National Climate Assessment’s reports that projected the consequences of climate change to be, “ocean acidification, extreme weather, [and] sea-level rise,” the Trump administration is exacerbating climate change. Trump’s intensification of climate change has been highlighted by his decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement, “leaving global climate diplomats to plot a way forward without the cooperation of the world’s largest economy.” (New York Times). The Paris Agreement was a UN-based agreement used as a mechanism to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Trump’s refusal to participate in this agreement is indicative of his twisted climate change agenda, demonstrating that he either doesn’t view addressing climate change as a priority or has alternative motivations that would consequently be hurt from limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
Along with this, Trump has rolled back on almost one hundred environmental regulations. According to the New York Times and National Geographic, the preservation of the environment is reliant on regulating human activity that exacerbates climate change, and an energy reformation toward green-energy sources, such as solar and wind energy. By rolling back these regulations, the Trump administration is specifically damaging public health and wildlife. According to a study done by Harvard Law, public health may take a hit from these rollbacks, as Trump reversed twenty-three regulations that previously worked to protect the environment from air and water pollution.
An increase in pollution in the sky and waters will expand the number of toxic pollutants present in large urban cities and oceans. This is another issue for citizens in industrial areas, as the consumption of some toxic pollutants can be extremely harmful. In the case of wildlife, Trump is rolling back the Endangered Species Act Regulations, which provided protections for endangered species and wildlife. Time and again, Trump has proved to be an antagonist to environmental causes, and in doing so, has hurt public health, wildlife, and the entirety of our environment.
On the other hand, the climate agenda of Joe Biden encompasses a series of climate regulations that would, “ensure the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050” (Joe Biden’s campaign website). Biden aims to achieve this by investing in clean energy, and incentivizing the rapid deployment of clean energy innovations across the economy, especially in communities most impacted by climate change. This message is a precondition to slowing down climate change and keeping the planet safe. A vote for Joe Biden signifies an end to the Trump Administration’s intensification of climate change, and its impacts on the well-being of our air, land, water, and people.
2. Joe Biden will improve education
Education is a cornerstone of Biden’s past actions and advocacy. For instance, he strongly supported the Improving America’s Schools Act (IASA) of 1994. This act was a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the most far-reaching federal legislation regarding education ever passed by Congress. The IASA provided long-needed protections for disadvantaged, immigrant, and bilingual students by reforming education laws (U.S. Department of Education). Moreover, the Obama administration, with Biden as Vice President, passed the Every Student Succeeds Act. This bipartisan action provides funding and assistance to the education system in order to ensure greater equity and that disadvantaged students are able to meet educational standards (U.S. Department of Education).
Conversely, the incumbent president’s education policies are a far cry from such progressive actions. The Trump administration has increasingly come under fire for slashing regulations on for-profit universities and reinstating a “scandal-scarred accreditor,” changes that essentially reverse much of the progress made by the Obama administration (The Guardian). Department of Education official Diane Auer Jones has also proposed policy changes to weaken the federal government’s hold on accreditors, leaving the school system with little oversight and potentially “[starving] public schools of funds.” By weakening the public sector, the administration is effectively bolstering for-profit universities–an agenda that should sound suspiciously familiar to those who remember Trump University, the president’s “education grift that swindled students out of millions.” According to the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment, for-profit universities accept a disproportionately high number of African-Americans, older students, single parents, and other vulnerable populations. Their students have a 35% completion rate, about half of other four-year colleges. Moreover, these students take on almost double the debt of those attending a public university. For-profit university students are also less likely to be employed and more likely to default on their loans. This clearly shows that Trump does not stand with the youth of America, prioritizing profits over education.
As public high school students, we should give significant gravitas to each candidate’s education policies. Biden’s tireless efforts and political experience have sparked paramount improvements in American schools – a statement that cannot be made about Trump. He has proven himself to stand with equitable education, ensuring that more students have the resources they need to reach their full potential and become contributing members of society. A school system that safeguards the education of every student is of vital importance for anyone that wants to give every child an equal opportunity to succeed.
3. Joe Biden stands for gun safety
Some of Biden’s most influential advocacies regarding American schools also lean into another key voting issue: gun laws. In an effort to address the alarming number of school shootings plaguing the nation, Biden served as a key author of the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990, which prohibits unauthorized people from carrying firearms on any school property (Education Week). Biden was also a major supporter of the 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which enforced background checks and five-day waiting periods for firearm purchases. According to Duke Today, the Brady Act has kept firearms out of the hands of “a large number of adults with felony convictions, histories of mental illness, or other disqualifying characteristics,” with 44,000 such cases in 1996 alone.
Meanwhile, Trump has shown condemnable apathy in the face of increasingly frequent mass shootings. According to The Washington Post, he has made countless promises to reinvestigate his gun policies after these shootings, like when he swore to push for more restrictive laws after Dayton and El Paso. However, he always abandons the notion, quickly and quietly, afraid, the Post speculates, that “gun legislation could splinter his political coalition.” Since he made confident promises to extend background checks and promote “red flag” laws, more mass shootings in Santa Clarita, Fresno, Duncan, and more prove that Trump’s words are empty. Moreover, Trump quietly revoked a piece of legislation from the Obama-Biden era that would have made it harder for people with severe mental illnesses to obtain firearms (NBC News). The root of the Trump administration’s gun policies is not hard to deduce: the National Rifle Association. The NRA spent nearly $30 million to get Trump elected, according to Fortune, and now he is returning the favor with his gun laws in order to secure their support in the 2020 election. As put by former NRA spokesman John Aquilino, “The reality is that the NRA absolutely helped Trump get elected… Trump realizes that NRA support in those swing states is more important than political party affiliation for winning” (The Guardian). Thus, based on Trump’s past policies and close affiliation with the NRA, we can confidently presume that he would do next to nothing to reduce the skyrocketing gun violence in our nation if reelected.
Trump’s words, pumped up by lobbyists like the NRA, are falling on the ears of a nation that is increasingly fed up with his false promises and stalled actions. In contrast, Joe Biden has taken a hardline stance on gun violence for his entire political career. By taking concrete action to restrict gun laws, Biden has done more to protect American students and civilians than Trump has ever even considered. Moreover, Biden has proven what type of politician he is – one who backs up his promises with legitimate policies and concerted political effort.
4. Joe Biden will treat immigrant children humanely
The COVID-19 pandemic has also exposed and brought to the spotlight the issue of immigration and specifically, the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers. Due to the high infection rate and contagious nature of COVID-19, there has been a call by Congressman Alan Lowenthall and thirty-five other members of Congress to release at-risk immigrants being detained in these detention centers to prevent the spread of this disease.
In December 2019, the Trump administration weakened its standards for ICE detention, putting the health and safety of these detainees at an even greater risk. According to The Guardian, the daily population of these detention centers has grown by more than forty percent since Trump took office. Furthermore, according to a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, and National Immigrant Justice Center, 39 adults have died in ICE custody or immediately after being released since Trump took office. Subpar care, according to independent medical expert analyses, was a leading factor in these deaths. Even the United Nations has condemned the United States for its inhumane immigration policy.
Now, Biden, unlike Trump, has called to shut down every immigration detention center, saying “we don’t need them.” Biden has even committed to reinvesting in a case management program, which aims to “enable migrants to live in dignity and safety while awaiting their court hearings–facilitating things like doctor visits, social services, and school enrollment for children,” according to his website. This proposed policy that would help ensure the humane and equitable treatment of immigrants serves in stark contrast to the xenophobic rhetoric Trump preaches and the xenophobic actions Trump takes.
5. Trump aids and abets racism; Joe Biden does not
Along the same vein as immigration, this pandemic we are living through has also uprooted the racial tensions that still persist in the United States. For example, according to Chicago’s NPR news source, seventy percent of COVID-19 deaths in Chicago are among black people, who only make up 30% of the city’s population. Furthermore, according to Kaiser Health News, doctors are less likely to refer African Americans for testing when they show up for care with signs of infection.
Despite the fact that Trump continually refers to himself as the least racist person in the world, time and time again he seems to contradict that statement. From the time when Trump tweeted that several black and brown Congresspersons are, “from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe,” and that they should “go back” to those countries, to the time when Trump referred to Haiti and other African countries as “s***hole countries,” he has continually proven his lack of regard for people of color.
Biden, on the other hand, has taken a hard stance on racism in the United States, even going so far as to say that racism is institutionalized across America. To this effect, Biden has taken a progressive stance on eliminating the racial biases that undermine the integrity of our criminal justice system. On his website, Biden has outlined a policy brief detailing what steps he plans to take. These include establishing an independent Task Force on Prosecutorial Discretion, investing in public defenders’ offices, eliminating mandatory minimums, and much more. Biden has made the racial struggles faced by Americans a central part of his campaign and is proposing various policies and legal frameworks that would protect the civil liberties that each and every American has a right to.
6. Trump has set a terrible example for America
At a 2016 rally, Trump notoriously mocked a disabled reporter, while a crowd of supporters laughed behind him. In what is considered bullying, he showed an utter lack of respect for people with disabilities, and encouraged others to do the same. According to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), 900 instances of harassment and hate crimes were reported in the ten days after the 2016 election. Notably, many of the perpetrators mentioned Trump’s name when committing the crimes. There is no doubt that Trump’s discriminatory language has enabled harassers and fueled hate crimes in America.
Trump’s history of harmful rhetoric not only reflects poorly on the global stage, but poses a bad influence on the younger people in America. Younger generations need a leader willing to show respect to people of all backgrounds. When children see one of the most powerful people in the country using discriminatory language, they could perceive it as an acceptable way to treat people.
One of the branches of his harmful rhetoric is his lack of trust in journalism. He constantly labels journalism he does not agree with as “fake news” and has been doing so since his 2016 campaign. Trump has failed to support journalists such as Jamal Khashoggi, who was assassinated at Istanbul’s Saudi consulate in 2018. Trump denied Congress of a report detailing an investigation of Khashoggi’s murder. A free press is a pillar of democracy and as student journalists, we feel strongly that Trump has not regarded it as such.
7. Trump has failed in his response to COVID-19
In late February, Trump suggested that the coronavirus, “like a miracle, it will disappear.” His lack of urgency toward the matter has cost more than 80,000 lives. Particularly in recent weeks, President Trump’s press briefings have proven to be a breeding ground for self-promotion and incorrect information regarding the pandemic. He suggested injecting disinfectant into patients’ lungs as a way to combat COVID-19 and later claimed this comment was under the guise of sarcasm.
Rather than focusing on the problems that plague our nation, he has chosen to highlight why he believes his administration should be praised. He has shifted the conversation toward himself, granting himself the title of a “wartime president,” when Americans are suffering from unemployment and disease. The world is in dire times, and we need a leader that can unite us. Trump has failed to step up, but we have faith that Biden will.
We’re not going to repeat the figures of those suffering from and lost from COVID-19. This editorial is not intended to focus solely on the coronavirus.
What we are seeking to discuss is the many lessons the coronavirus can teach us about the role of government in turbulent times. Some leaders, like those in South Korea, New Zealand, and Germany, have risen to the occasion, proving themselves to be worthy of this trying moment. However, other governments have proven themselves to be frighteningly unfit to effectively respond to the challenges posed to them.
Sadly, one of these failed institutions is the U.S. Federal Government. The response of Donald Trump and his far-right administration (a response that has ranged from from peddling concerning disinformation to allowing preventable loss of life ) should put the nail in the coffin of the irresponsible notion that the government which governs best, governs least.
Government matters. Good government and strong leadership versus bad government and poor leadership can be – and is – the difference between life or death for some of the people they govern. In the face of a global health crisis such as this one, the greatest country in the world should not have to settle for the incompetence and ineptitude that the nation has suffered from the White House since January 20, 2017.
The opinion writers responsible for the formation of this article are throwing their support behind Joe Biden for President. These writers all lean left, but some more than others. We have some former Bernie supporters, we have some progressives, and some moderates. But what unites all of us is worry.
Worry that college will not be as accessible or as affordable as it has been for prior generations. Worry that a rapidly-changing economy will leave us behind. Worry that we might not have reliable access to healthcare. Worry that our Earth will be less safe and healthy. Worry that falsely blaming a few for the problems of the many will cause our culture to be bogged down by immaturity, bigotry, and toxicity. And worry that the negative tone and tenor emanating from the highest echelon of American government is encouraging and perpetrating values and attitudes that should only be described as un-American.
This worry is not being eased by our current administration. Rather, many of these worries are exacerbated by it.
That’s the problem. But it also indicates a choice the American people (young people especially) will have to make as they decide which future they want to build. The choice: to uphold an administration that has weakened America’s response to COVID, or to support Joe Biden in his effort to strengthen efficient government for the health and safety of all Americans.
We choose Uncle Joe.