President Donald Trump has put kids in cages. He’s been accused of sexual assault or other sexual misconduct by nearly 100 women. He’s tried to extort the Ukrainian government into helping him win an election. His term in office has largely been characterized by the realization of millions of Americans that our democracy is more feeble and corrupt than we had ever before realized. Yet, even with all of that, he will probably be best remembered for his personality.
Donald Trump has been referred to as “unfit” for the office of the presidency thousands of times over the course of his candidacy and administration by some of the leading politicians, journalists, scholars, legal and medical experts in the nation. Time and time again, he has shown himself to be an egotistical narcissist with a loose grasp of the law, driven by a lust for fame and fortune. This has led to scandal after scandal, but it has always been more embarrassing than threatening, especially because it has made him a less effective politician than someone like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who truly knows how to politic. That is no longer the case.
In an era of such profound chaos and disunity as the coronavirus pandemic, the President of the United States of America must be able to project calm and confident leadership to the country and the world at large. We clearly do not have that president, nor anything close.
Our president has instead continued his self-righteous crusade against democracy and its checks on his power, seizing the momentary distraction of the media to fire the Intelligence Community Inspector General who deemed the whistleblower complaint credible. He has also continued his use of xenophobia and racism to target and scapegoat minority communities, turning his anger against and blame towards the Chinese by referring to the coronavirus as the Chinese Virus — a rhetorical decision which has already led to an increase in violent hate crimes against the Asian-American community.
Instead of the president we need, we have a man whose guiding principle is to “get even.” In the midst of a pandemic, that is the most compromising mindset a leader could have. The threat of that outlook was perfectly captured in his response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s request for more ventilators for the people of New York City: “It’s a two-way street, they have to treat us well also.” The Washington Post has reported that loyal Trump supporters like Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida have had all of their equipment requests fulfilled, whereas other states are getting almost nothing. Trump has used this fear of retribution to extract positivity from adversarial officials and has already featured positive remarks made by Governor Cuomo and Governor Gavin Newsom of California in campaign ads for the 2020 election.
Rather than helping the people he serves as president, Trump sees this pandemic as an opportunity to strike back at the Democratic politicians that have constantly criticized him, the American voters that voted against him and the media which has never portrayed him the way he has wanted. He has bided his time but is now taking his opportunity to finally “screw them 15 times harder.” And screwed them he has — the United States, now with over 667,800 confirmed coronavirus cases, has more than triple the cases of Spain, the second most infected nation, and over 30,000 confirmed deaths, more than six times as many as China, where the virus originated.
This makes the next presidential election one of the most consequential in our nation’s history. Its outcome may be the main determinant of not only the future of our democracy but also the choice between life and death for the many thousands of Americans — particularly low-income black and brown people — who are hurt most by President Trump’s spiteful governance.
It is in this context that our right to vote is more important than ever before. We have one chance to stop a vindictive tyrant from reigning over our country for another four years, to prevent the continuation of years of harmful xenophobic speech and violence, to preserve our democracy and to show the political establishment that its blatant enablement of his corruption will not be permitted.
With Senator Bernie Sanders suspending his presidential campaign and essentially ceding the Democratic nomination to former Vice President Joe Biden on April 8, the playing field has narrowed. Starting at 29 Democratic candidates last year, the race is now left with just one. And of course, not everyone agrees that Biden is the best choice. Hashtags like #NeverBiden and #WriteinBernie began trending after Sanders left Biden as the last candidate standing. However, what has become abundantly clear is that even if Biden does not align with the policy views of every sect of Democrats, he is the only ticket out of a second term for President Trump.
Biden’s victory in the Democratic race has exposed the frightening implications of the Democratic Party’s deep-seated disunity — namely, the potential that people refuse to unite against a common enemy come Election Day. While divides between moderate and progressive Democrats are certainly legitimate and should be addressed, they must not hold us back from working together on our shared goals and from fulfilling the most necessary purpose of the 2020 election: putting the presidency back in the people’s hands.
With an understanding of the importance of this election, Biden has received a string of endorsements from a variety of sources — sources as ideologically different as democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders and the anti-Trump conservative Lincoln Project. His already impressive list of endorsements has grown tremendously now that Sanders is out of the race. The added endorsements of Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and former President Barack Obama intend to call the entirety of the party together in support of Biden.
The people President Trump targets are those with the least power. They cannot spend billions of dollars to win the election. They don’t have the time to canvas or campaign because they’re too busy earning enough money to survive and support a family. Many of them do not even have the right to vote, whether that is because they’re undocumented or because they’re incarcerated by the American prison–industrial complex. Those with more power in the system should speak up and speak out about Trump’s many failures and use their right to vote to make a meaningful difference in thousands of lives.
In a democracy, it is numbers that win. But if we let Russia, American billionaires or our own uncompromising natures succeed in dividing us — and in deceiving ourselves into believing that President Trump’s reelection would be effectively the same as any other American politician in office — we lose our country to four more years of unchecked vengeance on the part of the incumbent. There is no reason that the definitive majority of this country should oppose this president yet be unwilling to vote him out of office. We have the numbers, we just need to come together and vote.
Unsigned editorials represent the Editorial Board (assenting: 9; dissenting: 0; abstaining: 4)