You thought Halloween was scary? It’s an election year
by Alondra Campos
photography by Mya-Lin Lewis
January 2020 brought hope for the New Year. February offered the only holiday we celebrated in normalcy. March placed us into quarantine for what felt like an eternity. April through October was a roller coaster of shutdowns, re-openings, protests and riots. And November brought us what could be the game changer of the chaotic year that 2020 has proven to be. A one-of-a-kind, record breaking, pandemic-style, presidential election.
Presidential elections are of utmost importance in the United States. Citizens practice their right to vote in this democratic process and elect the candidates who they find most relatable, appealing, and who will move this country forward. 2020, however, raised the stakes for this year’s presidential election. It’s not every year that you have two completely opposite candidates running for the most important position in government amidst a pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, an economic recession, and much, much more.
This year, voters were not just looking for convincing speeches or empty promises. They wanted a president who took COVID-19 seriously, someone who would truly lend a hand to the thousands of families drowning in financial hardships due to the pandemic, and, more than anything, a leader during these troubling times.
Colin Coppock, a University of La Verne student, says this year’s presidential campaigns are what concerns him. “I’m honestly concerned for this year’s election, specifically about the lies that happen on the campaign trail. I think many of Trump’s supporters continue to support him because he is good at deceiving them.”
The lack of detail in the policy plans from both candidates cannot help but leave voters questioning whether either Donald Trump or Joe Biden has proven themselves to be in the presidential seat.
Tania Ruedas, a University of La Verne student, says although she voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, their platform lacks the drive she looks for in a president. “The most obvious answer to me was to vote for Biden and Harris, but at the same time this platform seems too moderate and unsure of themselves. I cannot help but feel disappointed by this platform. They have a good chance to set everything right, but they lack the guts to attempt it.”
According to a Pew Research study of the most important issues for voters this election, economy and crime were at the top for Trump supporters while health care and coronavirus were the top two issues for Biden supporters. Both candidates clearly have different priorities, and their supporters are no different.
President Trump vowed to boost the U.S economy by creating 10 million jobs in a time span of 10 months while also increasing the number of small businesses. On the other hand, Biden plans to raise taxes for those earning more than $400,000 dollars in order to pay for public services. In terms of COVID-19, President Trump created a task force back in January to address the deadly virus. However, Trump later stated that his administration would be focusing on safely opening the country, even if the case count never decreased. Biden’s plan to address the virus consisted of setting up more testing centers in every state, having a nationwide mask mandate, and providing free COVID-19 testing for everyone.
But it is in racial and ethnic equality where President Trump and Biden are the most divided. While only 24% of Trump supporters prioritize the issue of racial inequality, 88% of Biden supporters believe that it is of extreme importance in this year’s presidential election. And the 52 point difference should not come as a surprise.
President Trump flat out does not believe that systemic racism is an issue within police departments in the country and labels himself as a committed supporter of law enforcement in the United States While Biden does not support police defunding, he does believe racism is a systemic problem.
The immense division between both candidates on this issue makes it almost seem as if we are living in two different Americas. While Trump claims he has done more for Black people than any other president, Biden states he and his vice presidential running mate Kamala Harris will stand up against racists, including Trump.
However, despite the impactful significant moments the 2020 presidential election had, voters feel as if the election dealt more with a battle between morals rather than policies. Abrelle Negrete, an ambassador for the Andrew Goodman Foundation at the University of La Verne, says it has been difficult for the organization to focus on its non-partisan role during this chaotic election. “It has been difficult to stay in a non-partisan role because this entire election has been very mean. There has been name calling, active fighting on both sides, and even personal things of the candidates are being brought up.”
During the first presidential debate, President Trump continuously interrupted Biden on every topic and question asked by moderator Chris Wallace. When Biden paid tribute to his son, Beau Biden, who served in the military and died of brain cancer in 2015, Trump was quick to dismiss Biden’s tribute to his son and viciously steer the conversation to Biden’s other son, Hunter. Trump’s intentions were to point out Hunter’s “suspicious” work on the board of a Ukraninan energy company.
President Trump’s head was so clouded with his inquiries about Hunter that he forgot to respond to Biden’s accusations of belittling the military after Trump had called them “losers.” “It’s so frustrating to think that these are our candidates. One of them is constantly being talked over, and the other is continuously breaking the rules,” Negrete says. “Is it about the individual or the policies now?”
Negrete says she would have liked to see more dialogue from both candidates about environmental policies. Although the topic did come up in debates, the conversation mainly consisted of both candidates accusing one another of not doing enough for the environment. According to National Public Radio, Biden’s environmental plan consists of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and investing $2 trillion over four years into infrastructure, transportation. and auto industries. President Trump, on the other hand, says his priorities are clean air and water but also plans to boost United States production of oil and natural gas, two points that directly contradict each other. Furthermore, Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris agreement in 2017, which is also something Biden would like to reinstate, according to NPR.
Both candidates’ stance on climate environmental issues is well reflected within their respective voters. A total of 68% of Biden voters stated that climate change was an important factor in their vote, according to a Pew Research Center study, while only 11 percent of Trump voters placed climate change at equal importance. “As someone who cares about climate change, I would have liked to see affirmative action on the topic and the candidate who was supposed to do that did not at the end of the day,” Negrete says. While there were many negatives during the 2020 presidential election, Negrete says the high voter turnout this year was definitely something the Andrew Goodman Foundation appreciated from the election. “Young Black people voted at a high rate for Biden, and it made a difference in key states,” Negrete says. “People became civically engaged and continue to maintain their voices.”
Indeed, an early takeaway from this year’s presidential election was voter participation. Of the 58 presidential elections this country has had, 2020 had the most voter participation, with more than 160 million voters. Biden even broke Barack Obama’s record of 69,498,516 votes with an astonishing 78,735,600 votes in favor. “The 2020 election is making people realize the importance of voting and being politically active,” Ruedas says. “These are things we have lacked in the past, and I feel as if people are recognizing that a vote really does matter because it is an extension of your voice. It is a privilege to vote, and we must do everything to ensure there are no obstacles in the voting process.”
Over the course of a week, many of Biden’s supporters anxiously waited for states like Nevada and Georgia to flip to blue while Pennsylvania and Arizona, historically red states, shockingly voted blue. President Trump’s best bet at winning this presidential race depended on those two states. The close start of the presidential race also alarmed several voters, considering President Trump’s actions and statement for his first presidential term.
The tumultuous 2020 election is over, but even with the former vice president Joe Biden’s presidential win, and Trump’s downfall, young voters did not feel completely satisfied with the election results. “This election came down to choosing the best of two evils,” says Joel Soto, a University of La Verne student. “To me and many people I know, it came down to deciding which candidate will do less damage to what has already been done.” As the new administration gears up for 2021, only time will tell whether Joe Biden lives up to his promises.