By: Ria Prasad
As November 3rd approaches, undecided voters are left with a few days to make their choice. In a “normal” election year the stakes would not be as high as a global pandemic, the replacement of a Supreme Court justice, and ending institutional systemic racism, among other pressing issues. In a “normal” election year, the static demographic of non voters would consist largely of American youth. However, if 2020 has taught us anything, it is that this is by no means a normal election year.
The Pew Research Center predicts that Millennials and Generation Z are expected to count for one in every ten votes in the upcoming election. In mainstream media, these generations are often referred to as “progressives”, a group pushing for substantial change in climate change policies, the justice system, healthcare, etc. In the spring of 2020 when progressive candidate Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race, I expected many progressives would lose faith in the future of our nation, as suggested by countless articles such as one by The Atlantic titled “What do Progressives do Now?”.
So the question then arises: how did such an adamant, strong willed, group of people put their qualms aside and get aboard the BidenHarris ticket? In search of answers, I sat down with some of the Gen Zers in my circle of friends to understand how they stomach the BidenHarris ticket despite being on different ends of the liberal scale.
“Ok so I’m just gonna say it, I disagree with most of their [BidenHarris’] policies, because I’m a leftist which is what the republicans think of Biden, he’s a ‘socialist’ as they [republicans] say” – Allison Wu
Wu feels strongly that the President is taking advantage of his prospective audience, “telling people not to worry, especially when your audience is elderly people who rely on you as a news source, is a dangerous message to put out there.” News outlets such as The Atlantic and The Washington Post reported that, in 2016, Trump rallied in mostly white males, a sweeping majority of which did not attend college. “Without a solid healthcare plan he is putting uneducated people in danger in a time when mass media is sprawling with fake news”. The President’s approach towards select audiences has been blatant and purposeful. More recently, the President tweeted a meme mocking not only his opponent- but also the elderly. After the first Presidential debate, Proud Boys, the White supremacist group the President addressed celebrated his words, “Stand back, stand by”, turning the slogan into merchandise. Wu, shaking her head, furiously jumped from one thought to another trying to articulate what she thought was blatantly obvious: Biden has plans, Trump doesn’t; Biden accepts science, Trump doesn’t; Biden condemns White supremacy, Trump doesn’t. “Why would he not condemn white supremacy? Because he knows who his audience is but he won’t outright say it!”
“Considering that the main focus of the election revolves around the GOP not regressing back to the mid 2000s I think the progressive agenda can wait” – Ria Verma
Verma is a strong believer in the fact that the entire political scale has been skewed since the 2016 election. “Progressives who are demanding things like proper healthcare are called extremists because the GOP has gone so far right, reframing the entire scale to make them [progressives] look radical” In this new frame many voters fail to see their views represented by either candidate, which is where Ria argues, “The issue isn’t that many of Biden’s policies don’t reflect what a ‘true’ democrat would campaign for, it’s that not voting for Biden put the existence of all progressive policies in grave danger.” After these four long years, few of the Obama era policies remain intact. As they hang on by a few loose threads, Amy Coney Barrett, the administration’s Supreme Court justice appointment, threatens to sever these ties forever. Barret who, in her Senate hearings, has suggested she wishes to repeal the Affordable Care Act is just one example of the ongoing attempt to entangle religion and politics. “Voting BidenHarris allows for the prevention of these policies being repealed and I think that’s far more important than either waiting for a more progressive candidate or abstaining from voting just because my views clash”.
President Trump tweets “Biden For President” meme on 10/13
“Everyone has a civil responsibility to vote in the democracy otherwise it’s anarchy, and you want your opinion to mean something- so no voting third party, which leaves you with two options” – Kirthi Chigurupati
What many often overlook when voting for a Presidential candidate is the administration that comes into power with the new President elect. The 2020 election, succeeding the death of trailblazer Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is an election that will potentially determine a number of federal judge appointments. “The executive branch has accumulated so much power over the years, it’s not just a president you are voting for, it’s his team of people [his cabinet] who are holding the ropes”. The Trump administration has been pushing its agenda by enforcing fidelity to the party leader regardless of a politician’s own views. North Carolina’s Thom Tillis is a Republican Senator whose open opposition to the President began to cost him his election. Soon after he came out issuing a statement saying he would not be voting in favor of a resolution to the border wall issue (NY Times). “The issue is that Trump is not even willing to put progressives on the same table as him,” Kirthi explained, understanding the President’s lack of tolerance for opposing viewpoints, “Biden will at least appeal to the liberal base enough that progressive discussion is a viable possibility.”
There was a common sense of frustration among these three young women: why wasn’t what seemed obvious to them understood by the older, undecided, eligible voting population of America?
In the last four years the nation has become extremely polarized, not all undecided voters are young let alone progressive. Whole generations cannot be categorized by any one political identity. Regardless, there is a range of humanitarian issues looming in our nation, issues that go far beyond the ideologies of any one political party. The 2020 election is one that dictates the health, safety, and prosperity of all Americans. Ria summed it up best, “I think we’ve become so desensitized to everything [the current] administration has done that we’ve come to expect this behavior from everyone in that level of government.”