On Nov. 3, Americans who did not already vote early took to the polls to participate in the 2020 Presidential Election. Incumbent President Donald Trump faced up against former Vice President Joe Biden in one of the most hotly contested elections in recent history. As of the writing of this article, the next President of the United States has yet to be announced, and political commentators are skeptical the results will be confirmed any time soon. As we look back to the over two years of political campaigns, the reality of this election is pretty heartbreaking to average Americans who have seen their votes come down to two pretty underwhelming candidates. While each candidate has a strong support base, it is clear that many Americans were not enthusiastic to vote for either Trump or Biden. This sad reality presents a bleak picture for the future of our American democracy. As we await the official results of the Presidential Election, there are several main takeaways we can learn from the 2020 Presidential Election.
Firstly, both President Trump and Vice President Joe Biden are highly unliked by the general public. Generally, unlike what your friends on Instagram might lead you to believe, Biden has a highly unfavorable rating. According to Gallup, “former Vice President Joe Biden edges out President Donald Trump in favorability ratings from the American people, 46 percent to 41 percent.” (1) With both candidates seen as unfavorable to the majority of Americans, it was no surprise to see the election come down to just a few states. Both Biden and Trump are some of the least favored presidential candidates in recent American history and their favorability ratings prove that. Americans were forced to pick between two candidates who represent the United States in a very poor light. The United States, with its over 300 million people, is the world’s second-biggest democracy behind only India. (2) And yet, the United States is dominated by two political parties, and these parties are seemingly more similar than they appear on the surface.
Biden and Trump represent the worst of American democracy: two elderly men who are entrenched in corruption, a hunger for power, and false assumptions of their own moral superiority. The fact is, neither represents the United States population, and their rise to power represents two different methods to power. Trump, born into wealth, ran for the presidency with much of his own money and defeated the long-lasting political dynasty of the Bush family by outperforming Jeb Bush. Trump’s strong showing to win the Republican nomination represented Americans who stood against the status quo and supported an outrageous, offensive, racist, charismatic populous. Biden on the other hand is a lifelong politician, entrenched in political corruption, both domestic and international, as well as a long history of supporting racist policies and working with segregationists. Although Biden and Trump may advertise themselves as wildly different, their similarities seem to glaringly obvious to ignore.
Simply put, the United States should look to improve its political situation by increasing ballot access to Independent and third-party candidates. Improving the competition on the ballot will not only raise the standards of the Republican and Democrat parties, but it will also allow for more Americans to engage in the electoral process. Americans deserve better. Certainly, the democratic process we have isn’t perfect, and controversy surrounding this election may last far beyond what we expect, but, the United States must continue to stand firm as a beacon of democracy and liberty for the world to see.
So, where do we go from here? Let’s stop pretending that Joe Biden is some “savior of democracy”. Biden has an appalling legislative record that saw him sponsor racist political policies. According to the Brookings Institute, Joe Biden sponsored the 1994 Federal Crime bill, which “extended the death penalty to 60 new crimes, stiffened sentences, offered states strong financial incentives for building new prisons, and banned a range of assault weapons [and] helped lead to the wave of mass incarceration that’s resulted in the United States accounting for 25 percent of the world’s prison population.” (3) Donald Trump on the other hand supported racist policies both before he entered the office and during his time in office. Before Trump was even elected to the Presidency, his role in the Trump Organization saw him take part in racist policies. As the New York Time reports, “Over the next decade, as Donald J. Trump assumed an increasingly prominent role in the business, the company’s practice of turning away potential black tenants was painstakingly documented by activists and organizations that viewed equal housing as the next frontier in the civil rights struggle.” (4) Neither Trump nor Biden are perfect, and we should stop acting like either one is. Let’s stop third-party voter shaming, stop acting like Biden was some kind of savior of democracy, and deal with each other with love and understanding, regardless of political affiliation. That way, we can all grow and mature as a nation.