As we all know very well that the 2020 election is drawing closer everyday. We’ve been hearing about it on the news for what feels like forever, Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump, Democrat vs. Republican. Although it has taken a toll on us mentally, it is arguably the most important election we’ve had in modern times.
With many important issues already on the rise, such as the recent death of Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, as well as the ever-worsening COVID-19 pandemic, what is exactly at stake during this election?
What are the Opinions of our Candidates?
As we all know, President Trump and Vice President Biden have very differing opinions. Trump is extremely far right, while Biden is more of a centrist. Here is where the candidates stand on topics that are central to this election:
COVID Response: Trump does not believe in a nationwide mask mandate, while Biden does. Prior to his diagnosis of COVID-19, Trump appeared regularly to events without a mask, and mocked Biden for wearing one at the presidential debate. Trump tested positive for COVID on October 2nd while Biden regularly wears a mask. Both candidates agree on a widespread increase of testing, and support the reopening of schools during the pandemic.
Economy and Trade: Biden is supportive of raising the minimum wage federally to fifteen dollars per hour. Trump has not made his stance clear. Both candidates support the “Made in America” policies, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal, and helping unemployed people in the pandemic financially.
Healthcare: Joe Biden is in support of the Affordable Care Act, which he helped create under the administration of President Obama. This plan protects people with pre-existing conditions. Trump has stated that Obamacare was to be removed, and he would come up with a better healthcare plan, but has yet to announce his plans. Biden is also in support of lowering the Medicaid eligibility age, while Trump is not. Additionally, Trump does not believe immigrants without citizenship who do pay federal taxes are entitled to medicare, while Biden believes the opposite.
Criminal Justice: Neither candidate believes in defunding the police, Biden stating that he would spend an extra 300 million dollars a year on policing. Both candidates also believe in a general dispersing of minimum prison sentencing, Trump signing the First Step Act, and Biden wanting to get rid of these prison sentences altogether. Where the two candidates begin to disagree is the controversial death penalty, Trump being in support and Biden wanting it banned altogether. They also disagree on the privatization of prisons, once again with Trump in support and Biden in disagreement.
Voting and Government Issues: As we were all aware, the recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has left Capitol Hill even further divided. Trump had recently appointed Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court, despite the calls from many Democrats to hold off the appointment until a new president has been confirmed. Given the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump disagrees with voting by mail on most circumstances, citing it as possible room for “voter fraud.”
Biden, on the other hand is supportive of voting by mail. The two men also disagree on statehood for places such as Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. . Trump is not a fan of either becoming a state, while Biden is in full support of Washington D.C. achieving statehood, but feels its up to Puerto Ricans to decide whether or not they would like to be a state.
Trump also agrees with the idea of Congressional term limits, while Biden, who served in the senate for over 35 years, does not feel that way. Neither men are in support of removing the electoral college.
Foreign Policy: Both Trump and Biden are in support of withdrawing troops and beginning peace talks with the Taliban and Afghan government. Trump is no longer in support of the Iran Nuclear deal, following the bombing of a U.S. Embassy in January of this year. Joe Biden is in support as long as Iran complies. Trump refuses to acknowledge any Russian interference in the 2016 election, while Biden openly acknowledges it. Trump supports current Cuban relations and is trying to roll back all the Obama Administration had done, while Joe Biden would like to revert back to the Obama-era policies.
Climate: It is well known that Trump does not truly believe in climate change and does not support taking measure to reduce America’s carbon footprint, evidenced by his pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord at the beginning of his administration. Biden has introduced a plan that would decrease our carbon emissions immensely by 2035. He also disagrees with extracting oil and other fossil fuels on public land, while Trump is in support of that.
“It’ll start getting cooler.” – President Trump when questioned on if the California Wildfires were affected by Climate change.BBCNews.com
Immigration: Donald Trump is supportive of a “zero tolerance” immigration policy, separating families at the border. Biden has condemned this policy many times. Trump has also made it clear he wants a wall at the border to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in. Biden has also condemned this policy, and also believes that deportations should be minimized.
Abortion: Trump has made his stance on abortion clear: he is completely against it. He has stated that, if reelected, he would defund Planned Parenthood, which not just offers abortions, but offers resources to single parents who are struggling to take care of their children. His appointment of Judge Amy Coney Barrett– a staunch pro-life advocate– to the Supreme Court further demonstrates his dedication to his stance on abortion. Joe Biden is pro-choice; although he was formerly against it, he has changed his stance.
Gun Control: Biden has wanted to ban assault rifles permanently for a large majority of his career, but agrees with his opponent that the confiscation of guns altogether is not a good idea. It is unclear whether Trump is supportive of extra background checking, but Joe Biden is. They are both supportive of the banning of bump-stock rifle additions.
LGBTQ Rights: Biden is against any government discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community. Trump had recently taken away protections for gay, lesbian, and transgender people.
“Trump has barred transgender people from openly serving in the military, rolled back protections for trans students, flat-funded HIV/AIDS work globally and pushed for exemptions that would allow health care providers to refuse care to transgender people and those with HIV/AIDS. He barred U.S. embassies from flying pride flags, typically done in June to mark global Pride Month.”Kate Sosin, USA Today
Biden, on the other hand, was a member of the Obama Administration, who legalized same sex marriage in 2015 and also voted for a 1996 bill that would allow the government to recognize same sex marriage.
Is the 2020 Election Really That Important?
The answer is yes. The answer will always be yes. It doesn’t matter if you want to “Keep America Great” or you’re “Ridin’ with Biden,” every election is pivotal to the future of the United States.
As high school students, we are now more capable to form our own opinions as individuals, have our own set of morals and desires for what we want this country to be. It is important to pay attention so we, as the next generation can craft what we want our country to look like when we have children and grandchildren of our own.
What we can do right now as students is encourage the adults in our lives to get out and cast a ballot, repost some politically important information on your Instagram or TikTok accounts, and pay close attention to Political events, such as the upcoming debate. Some students will be able to vote this November.
Opposing Sides in our RHS community
Hannah Tobin is a sophomore here at Rutherford High School. She says if she could, she would vote for Biden and Harris, the democratic nominees. She believes that we need Trump voted out, because he disagrees with many of her political standpoints. “They support LGBTQ+ rights, the Black Lives Matter movement, feminism and agree with pro-choice stances.” She says that these are all important issues to her. “I also like how Biden wants to tax people based on income, which would achieve equity.” Tobin also cited the stark differences in environmental policies. “Biden believes in science, and has a plan for a clean energy revolution and environmental justice, unlike his competitor who believes that climate change will take care of itself.” She said. “On a side note, Biden also worked with president Obama who I thought was miraculous as president. The economy grew more under their leadership, though Trump seems to be taking credit.”
Carlos Carballo, who is also a Sophomore, disagrees. He says if he could vote, he would vote for Donald Trump. “I like his policy with Cuba.” he says. “Cuba is very close to freedom because of the sanctions that are ‘choking’ the dictatorship, and they are running out of funding. Biden wants to go back to the Obama relations which were keeping it a dictatorship, but making it look like a democracy, similar to the government of Egypt.” Another reason he gave was that come the 2024 election, a progressive will likely be elected, but there will be two new candidates with new ideas.
Tobin and Carballo also disagreed on whether or not this election has any importance to them. Tobin said “In this country, voting is a privilege when we come of age, and we will be of voting age soon. We need to be informed on the events of this election so when it comes time for us to vote, we have all the background information we need to make the right decisions according to our personal morals, values, and beliefs.” Carballo, on the other hand said that “I don’t think the election is important for any of us but if I had to say why it could be important is relations. They will deteriorate either way and civil conversations will be harder to have.”
Featured Image Credit: Andrew Daquino