Writer: Sana Imam
Part 1: Evading a Repeat of the Past Four Years
The favorable depiction of the Internet’s favorite former vice president, Joseph Biden, has drastically evolved. Rather, party politics have intensified since Barack Obama’s final term while Biden’s disreputable actions have rapidly been discerned. Although Biden has a reputation for connecting with voters and being an industrious campaigner, the 2020 presidential election may or may not produce the results he expects to see. Perhaps the contemporary “silent majority” will not only include Trump voters, but also a cluster of voters who seek to challenge both candidates.
The atmosphere of opposition against a Biden presidency is complex. Doubtful of whether campaign rhetoric will translate into action, former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton has made it clear that he will not be voting for Biden in the national election. Despite his conservative nature, he also admits that Trump’s consumption of intelligence is marginal. For Republican figures like Bolton, philosophical qualms stand in the way of a vote for either Trump or Biden; this is indeed the case for many Democrats. Nevertheless, identifying ambivalent groups of voters from a single party is counterproductive for this upcoming election. Democrats, Republicans, and independent voters all have their reservations.
Nebulous views of both candidates beg the question: What other options do malcontent voters have?
Abstention, or voting for a third-party.
In an attempt to dismantle the country’s single-winner plurality system, radical voters are keen to use this election as an opportunity to unfold the change they’ve been demanding. To mainstream American media, Biden is viewed as a progressive. To those who have closely observed the Democratic Party’s disjunction between their proposals and what they’ve seeded in marginalized communities -- both national and international -- Biden’s efforts are the bare minimum. His seemingly radical stances on minimum wage, free education, private prisons, and other matters are far from revolutionary. From the perspectives of younger folks, the status quo is incompatible with a moderate president. This attitude is not unwarranted, as Biden has developed his persona as a “deal-making” congressman for more than 30 years. In fact, this persona is widely speculated to be what attracts independent voters to Biden.
Independents will be a key swing vote for this upcoming election. Their affinity towards a Biden presidency will be pivotal in states such as Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, and others. A recent survey found that 51% of independents would vote for Biden, 33% preferred the current president, and 17% were unsure. This group of unsure independent voters corresponds to millions of individuals across swing states, incentivizing Biden to take advantage of these voters by maintaining his moderate persona. Today, the key to winning the American presidency is through winning the center.
As seen in his congressional voting record, Biden is certainly a centrist character. According to the American Conservative Union, Biden has a voting score of 12.67, indicating his record is the most conservative among well-known candidates such as Warren, Klobuchar, and Sanders, whose respective scores are 4.16, 4.7, and 6.78; achieving a score that is nearly twice that of Bernie Sanders is more salient than one would think. Pitting Biden against Trump is a sure-fire way to pull conservative support to the left. The closer the election, the more accurate this projection becomes.
Simply defeating Trump is not the goal for everyone. However, it is important to fully comprehend why this is a top priority among Biden voters.
Severely mishandling a pandemic, rejecting the Black Lives Matter movement to empower white supremacists, violating human rights through federal agencies -- these barely touch the surface of Trump’s wrongdoings. He maintained a loose relationship with the truth for years and has disfigured his moral compass to mimic his constituents’ values. Trump is counting on the incumbency advantage to make up for his transgressions, but too many occurrences signify that the American government is dangerously evolving. Trump’s nature of being “straightforward” or “a tough businessman” are euphemisms to hide his authoritarian mentality. Casually conflating peaceful protestors with terrorist organizations, galvanizing white supremacy, and targeting individuals on his personal social media platforms have enabled right-wing politics to be dismissive towards human rights advocacy, which include a range of issues that align with neither wing but with all who champion the preservation of freedom. The relationship between Trump and the American people has demonstrated that another term will do nothing more than suppress countless voices across the country.
Voting for a third-party damages the efforts of anti-Trump voters. Acting as if you’re outside the boundaries of mainstream political discourse is valid but arguably egocentric. Your vote will not be a reflection of your own perceptions but those of the people. The year that a third-party wins an election will be monumental, but in no reality will it be in 2020. The next option would be abstaining from voting; however, doing so would ignore the decades of oppression that victims of voter suppression have experienced. Consider voting to be a privilege before you commit to staying away from this election.
It is spiteful to think we will elect a president whose mask is as deceiving as Trump’s. A vote for Biden unbars the pathway to mend the social fabric this country is capable of establishing. Celebrating individuality and protecting marginalized peoples is what will heal a fragmented society amid uncertain times. Electing Biden does not mean that protests will cease to occur. Still, we can have faith that the next four years will have no chance of regenerating the trauma this nation has endured.
Joe Biden may be our only hope to vote the president out, but he is not immune from the scrutiny of his suspicious past as a congressman. In part two of this series, I will highlight Biden’s inconsistencies and dive into his voting record to uncloak the guise of a “moderate” congressional dealmaker.
Tony Peeler, a rising sophomore at George Washington University studying international affairs and public health, provides his perspective on common questions that critics of Biden tend to have. He is actively involved in social activism and youth politics, through endeavors such as participating in the first ever Black Senators’ Caucus at GWU.
1) Q: Biden critic: It would be unethical of me to cast a vote for either Trump or Biden. How would voting for a third-party equate to a vote for Trump? TP: Third-party candidates are often ones who slip into the ballot’s cracks. In this election, doing so would be a vote for Trump because Biden is at stake for losing radical Democratic voters, which in turn increases the vote share for Trump. If you are a Democrat, Biden needs all the help he can get. Voting for a third-party candidate only gives Trump more votes.
2) Q: Biden critic: Voters are naive to think they must only choose between two candidates. Don’t you believe that the two-party system curbs democracy? TP: I personally believe a two-party system does curb democracy. However, a third-party candidate in the current system could never win. Until we can change the system, we must pick the candidate that shares our goals and beliefs. Historically, third-party candidates never win, and voting for one in this election (if you’re a Democrat) would only hurt yourself and others who oppose Trump.
3) Q: Biden critic: The Democratic Party covertly operates on a conscience comparable to the Republican Party. Do you realize that Biden’s previously racist, homophobic, and sexist rhetoric proves he is simply Donald Trump in blue?
TP: I believe the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party desperately need reform. Democrats often neglect opinions that aren’t the mainstream (moderate, extreme left, Blue Dog Democrats, etc). Biden has done a lot of questionable things, but he has tried his best to educate himself and be an ally for marginalized groups. For example, his current stance on abortion caused him to be exiled from the Catholic Church but he has stood firmly on it. I believe everyone can be forgiven and given a chance to educate themselves and reverse their opinions, but no candidate is comparable to Trump.