Are These the Best We Have?
There’s a presidential election this November, and I’m dreading it. If I supported a candidate, I would excitedly follow the campaigning and debates. I would eagerly await each new poll and constantly review each Electoral College scenario that would lead my preferred candidate to victory. I might’ve even obtained a lawn sign or bumper sticker. Now, I feel a sense of trepidation bordering on apathy when I see one, and can’t help but think to myself, “Are these two the best we have?”
I could never support Joe Biden. Like most YU undergrads, I lean Republican, albeit with a libertarian bent. I do not support most of the policies that make up the Democratic Party’s platform, and a President Biden would be a vehicle to implement them. Nationwide strict gun control, a return to the Obama foreign policy, national labor laws like AB5 in California and ending legal protections for religious institutions on social issues are all things Biden has talked about trying to implement. I also do not believe Biden would do a good enough job standing up to the radicals in his party. His unity task force with Senator Bernie Sanders further contributes to my pessimistic stance. Giving Biden and the Democrats control of the Executive branch is not something I want to endorse.
I do not want to vote for Donald Trump either, no matter how many of his policies I support. In my opinion, he has proven himself unfit for the presidency. I have my policy disagreements with him on trade but might be able to get over that were it not for this. I do not believe he is working for the Russians, nor that he’s some evil mastermind; I just don’t think he has the character and aptitude to be the commander-in-chief. His mindset is, “if you’re with us, you’re with us; if you’re not with us, you’re against us.” Examples of this include his embrace of congressional candidates with bigoted or conspiratorial views because they support him, and his rather vile statements about the late John McCain and former members of his Cabinet and staff. His inability to fault himself, rather than others, for failures and his affinity for sowing mistrust and doubt did not help him when faced with the crises of 2020. His tweets are his own worst enemy, and his advisors should seriously consider either throwing his phone into the Potomac River or changing the password and recovery email to his account. His impulsive disposition is simply unbefitting for the leader of the free world, and when things aren’t going well, it’s even clearer. I don’t want to have to bend over backward to defend his ridiculous behavior and rhetoric on a near-daily basis.
This has been very hard to come to terms with, especially since I believe his administration has been the most pro-Israel in history, and that is my number one voting issue. I’m not going to pass judgment onto those who have or want to vote for Trump because I share the temptation on bad days. Conservatives on college campuses will tell you that they are afraid to express their beliefs in class or at social gatherings, citing ostracization by peers and faculty if they said something deemed “offensive” or “dangerous”. Those on the Religious Right feel a rapidly secularizing culture is alienating them. Hollywood makes a mockery of what they call “hillbillies” and “flyover country.” Working-class individuals have seen factories shut down or sent overseas while immigration rates rise and perceive it as their jobs being taken by foreigners.
Republican voters have been characterized as “bitter clingers” by no less than Barack Obama while McCain took the high road and lost. They saw Mitt Romney slandered unapologetically by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid over taxes and while the media focused on a poorly worded phrase. These aren’t the only examples of attacks on Romney, yet he took them all with grace. Voters felt betrayed by politicians who didn’t defend their beliefs, and Trump was elected to be something different: A Republican who fought back.
I understand and even agree with a lot more of the rationale behind voting to reelect Trump than to elect him originally, as he's proven his administration governs conservatively. (A reason some Republicans were reluctant to vote for Trump in 2016 was the lack of evidence he’d implement a conservative agenda.) Nonetheless, I believe that in order to have the character worthy of the Presidency, you need to exhibit compassion and humility or at least show leadership ability when the going gets tough. I haven’t seen Trump do either and excusing his crass behavior by saying “he’s a fighter” just doesn’t sit well with my conscience. Moreover, Trump has not stopped the culture wars, rather he’s poured gasoline on them instead.
I also understand why some conservatives are voting for Biden. They may view Trump’s populism as a force so dangerous it needs to be purged from the party with a crushing defeat. They may look at Biden and see a real mensch, unlike our current president. However, I will not vote for a candidate if I don’t support their platform. If he gets the Senate, Biden may have a presidency resembling FDR’s policy-wise, which sounds nightmarish to me.
Were I old enough to vote in 2016, I would have voted for the Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico. Gary Johnson decided not to run this election, but I had thought I’d vote Libertarian due to Justin Amash’s seeming interest in seeking the nomination. I was ecstatic when he opened a presidential exploratory committee at the end of April and crushed when he decided not to just two weeks later. The Libertarian nominee Jo Jorgensen has never held elected office and her stubbornly principled plans leave no room for moderation and compromise. Thus, they are not grounded in reality. She is paradigmatic of the Libertarian Party and its current dysfunction, but that’s a topic that requires a separate article to flesh out.
So who will I be voting for? I’ve concluded that voting for a candidate because he or she is not the other choice is how we got to a point where a billionaire real estate mogul and gameshow host turned conservative populist is running against a nearly 80-year-old former vice president and senator whose biggest selling point is not being the other guy. Rather, I’ll write someone in or leave the choice blank because we can do better, America.
Photo caption: President Donald Trump and Former Vice President Joe Biden
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons