I am a voter, worried about the current trajectory of America, and I am increasingly frustrated by vows from my peers to either abstain from voting or to write-in a candidate. Whether it’s because their candidate dropped out or because they are appalled by Biden’s platform or moral standing, many refuse to even acknowledge former Vice President Joe Biden as the presumptive nominee.
But as the daily death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic increases, and the violence egged on by President Trump continues, it’s time to realize that this election is bigger than just Trump versus Biden. Voting this year is a matter of protecting our country’s core values — or what is left of them. Our right to vote is the singular most powerful way we can help shape the social, economic, and political aspirations of our country for ourselves. In the complex sociopolitical world of gerrymandering, foreign interference, social media, and electoral colleges, voter suppression is as malicious a threat as ever. And openly rejecting the privilege of voting on the basis of moral high ground is unacceptable. There is too much at stake to sit in silence. Change is not effected by renouncing the means by which it can be achieved.
We currently live in a country where our president promotes violent protests and lauds misleading scientific statistics amid a global health crisis. When I read George Orwell’s "1984" in high school, I never imagined a scenario in which “doublethink” would actually be a relevant term. Nevertheless, here we are in 2020, dealing with a president whose words and actions are constantly manipulated to portray an idealized truth and whose lies are so routine that they often go unnoticed.
For those of us disappointed by Trump’s victory in 2016, the wait for the 2020 election has been interminable. Nearly a year ago, the field of 28 candidates for Democratic nominee held much promise. The protracted process of debates and campaigns wrapped up quickly after Biden won South Carolina, and suddenly, the field was whittled down to one elder white man.
Undeniably, Biden is a flawed candidate who has made mistakes. Over the past month, sexual assault allegations against him have gained prominence in the headlines, but questions about his past positions on race, his lack of support for universal healthcare, and his treatment of Anita Hill have been nagging throughout his campaign. Still, his commitment to America is clear, as are his intentions to surround himself with the best and the brightest political minds.
The coronavirus pandemic has only raised the stakes for this election year. We now know what it means to have an oval office that ignores the scientific community amid a pandemic and silences the opposition. Biden offers an alternative. With Biden, a qualified administration will return, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy will continue, Title IX hearings for sexual assault victims will remain, climate change will actively be addressed, and the press will be respected. With respect to concerns about his history with women, having fought for women's rights throughout Obama's presidency, it is reasonable to assume that as the establishment choice, he would continue to fight for their rights irrespective of the allegations against him. To not do so would amount to political suicide.
Voting for Biden does not mean that those wishing for a more progressive agenda must end their fight. While Biden himself is not a progressive, his efforts to bring us together after a destructive Trump presidency set the foundation for future progressive agendas. At the very least, a Biden presidency could bolster a liberal Congress as well as result in a more diverse Supreme Court, both of which would make passing future progressive policies easier.
On top of that, Biden has already collaborated with former presidential candidate and de facto leader of the progressive movement, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), to create “unity task forces” that include both centrist and leftist Democratic allies. Biden has shown a willingness to incorporate progressive policies into his own agenda while collaborating with prominent leaders of the movement. Alternatively, another four years of Trump may in fact bury any semblance of our democratic republic, not to mention hopes of future systemic change.
For those concerned about the recent sexual assault allegations, of course it is necessary to support an investigation into Tara Reade’s allegations against Biden. Biden himself has said “If [voters] believe Tara Reade, they probably shouldn't vote for me.” But if you are outraged by Biden and focused on highlighting Reade’s story on social media, I ask you this: Did you sustain this outrage, this amplification of voices for all 25 of Trump’s sexual misconduct accusers? Did you demand an investigation every single day of his presidency?
To intensify Tara Reade’s story and turn a blind eye to the 25 and counting sexual misconduct allegations against Trump not only misplaces our rage but also subverts calls to listen to all women. The allegation against Biden should remind us of all the allegations against Trump and of the need to revisit them with the same energy being put into investigating Tara Reade’s story.
As far as we can tell, the 2020 election will be between Trump and Biden, but what is at stake is greater than the candidates alone. Fox News didn’t choose to report on Coalition Against Fraternities and Sexual Violence's removal of Penn Dems for fun — they chose to cover that story because it highlights a divided resistance. We can not afford that kind of division. Our outrage is only so effective as the change that it incurs. At the end of the day, there is no world in which Trump will protect women.
While a vote for Biden may be a vote for the status quo, in a time where a deadly virus is ravaging our world and armed militia are protesting public health initiatives, the status quo is a relief. No one is morally impure for accepting Biden as the clearest way forward. A vote for Biden does not make you any less invested in minority rights, any less concerned about listening to voices of sexual assault, nor any less passionate about universal healthcare. A vote for Biden is a vote for a country that still values freedom of the press, the advice of experts, and the science of global warming. As it stands now, a vote for Biden is a matter of survival.
AGATHA ADVINCULA is a rising College junior from Brooklyn, N.Y. studying Health and Societies.
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