We are losing. More than 220,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, making the United States one of the hardest-hit countries in the world. This winter, thousands more will perish. Racial disparities have been brought to the forefront of national attention, but in the form of horrific police violence and a president that can’t even condemn white supremacy. And as the climate crisis continues to worsen, the Republican Party continues to debate whether climate change even exists.
It is clear we are losing. But we have not yet lost.
As college students in the most important state in the country, we have the opportunity to turn things around by electing Joe Biden to be the next president of the United States. Rather than read off Trump’s disgusting tweets to you, I think it would be a better use of our time to explore how the world might differ depending on the outcome of this generation-defining election.
Let’s say on Jan. 20, 2021, Joe Biden is sworn in as president.
As president, Biden passes a sweeping stimulus bill that puts money in your pocket, saves the café down the road, and reduces the risk of budget cuts to West Philadelphia public schools. Biden creates a national COVID-19 testing strategy, uses his office to advocate for mask-wearing, and helps roll out a safe and effective vaccine in an orderly manner. You can now choose an affordable public option for healthcare no matter where you are. And you can stay on your parents’ health insurance until you’re 26. Your friend from high school who took on crushing student loans has had their federal student loan debt wiped clean. And in 2050, when our economy is entirely powered by clean energy that has created millions of well-paying jobs, you can show your children the forests and oceans and biodiversity of our beautiful planet that you helped preserve.
But let’s say Trump wins.
COVID-19 continues to spread and a lack of planning and effective public health messaging on the federal level causes hundreds of thousands more to die, including someone with whom you are close. A vaccine is doled out in a partisan and haphazard manner, leading to confusion and further delays in returning to normal life. Rather than stay on the margins of society, white nationalism is further emboldened and hate crimes spike. And in 2050, the Schuylkill river trail and low-lying areas of Philadelphia now regularly flood. By the end of the century, the average day in Philadelphia is seven degrees hotter and millions have died around the world from climate change-induced catastrophes.
Obviously, this is all speculation, but it is plausible, and frighteningly likely if our country heads down this dark path.
In 2016, Donald Trump won Pennsylvania by around 44,000 votes. That’s roughly the size of Temple’s student body. And right now Pennsylvania is the most likely tipping point state in the entire country, which means that it is the most likely state to decide the 2020 election. All of that to say — what you do matters. You get to decide which version of the future we will live in.
So please, please make a plan to vote on Nov. 3. Go to iwillvote.com/pa to get all the information you need. Text three friends right now — yes right now, in the middle of this sentence — and make sure they are voting for Biden. And even if you have just an hour of free time, reach out to me at email@example.com and I will find a way to get you in this fight.
I’ll be honest. Joe Biden can’t solve all of our problems, and for many of us, including myself, he wasn’t our first choice for president. But electing Joe Biden is absolutely necessary if we are going to make any sort of progress. Because if Trump has taught us anything constructive, it is that our lives and our society are not guaranteed to get better. We need to make that change. And we need to make it now.
FRANCOIS BARRILLEAUX is a College junior. He is the Legislative Director of Penn Democrats.