Let’s make this election about Joe Biden, not Donald Trump
Clark Bowden | Thursday, September 17, 2020
Remember former President Barack Obama’s Vice President? The long-term senator famous for reaching across the aisle? The guy who won the Presidential Medal of Freedom and then ran away with his party’s nomination despite being significantly out fundraised? Remember him? His name is Joe Biden, and despite what you might think, he is actually one of the major candidates running for president of the United States.
In the news today, virtually all we see is non-stop coverage of Donald Trump, which makes sense given the profit motivating structure of news organizations. His intensely polarizing nature draws viewers to him like angry Notre Dame alumni are drawn to the comment section of my columns (keep it up fellas; I never get tired of reading them). Take the former CBS President Les Moonves comment on Trump’s 2016 run: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” The Atlantic reporter Ethan Zuckerman also observed, “News networks rode the twists and turns of Trump’s candidacy to record ratings and ad sales, and the spotlight has not turned away from Trump for a second since he won the presidency.”
Just like in 2016, we are letting Donald Trump control the narrative and news cycles of this election. It seems unlikely that the 24-hour news conglomerates are going to shift their coverage towards more equal time between Biden and Trump, so the burden of responsibility shifts to us: citizens. There are two reasons that we as students, voters and all Americans need to start talking more about Joe Biden. First, and most importantly, he is running for president and his policies and ideologies deserve to be debated and discussed. After all, this is the most powerful office in the world, so we should know what we’re getting if and when we vote for Joe Biden. And second, if we don’t talk about Biden, and we continue to let Donald Trump control the media attention and narrative of this election, Joe Biden will lose. So! On that cheery note, let’s unpack exactly where Joe Biden stands on important issues compared to Donald Trump (and yes I can already see your eyes glazing over. I promise to keep this as light and fun as possible).
The west coast is on fire. Again. As Americans, we are starting to make Billy Joel look bad because it is becoming increasingly obvious that we actually are “starting the fire” with an appalling lack of foresight and environmental controls. According to a series of polls conducted by Pew Research in 2020, 66% of Americans say, “the federal government is doing too little to reduce the effects of global climate change”. Sixty-four percent of American believe that protecting the environment should be a “top priority” of the federal government, and 63% says that increased regulations are worth the economic cost. So knowing where public opinion rests on this issue, let’s look at the candidates. While Joe Biden has not gone as far as to endorse the Green New Deal, he has proposed plans to sharply increase regulations of the energy industry, spend over five trillion over the next three years to invest in state and local communities fighting climate change, and promised to bring America back into the Paris Climate Accord. You can read more specifics about his platform here.
Speaking of platforms, you know whose platform you can’t read more specifics of anywhere? Trump’s. Because he literally does not have one. Some say he was too lazy to care while others claim that his hands were just too small to grip the pencil. In all seriousness though, we have a candidate from a major ‘party’ running for president with no platform. That’s not a party; that’s a candidate. The party has become the candidate, and that’s both sad and alarming. It also makes it incredibly difficult for me to find any substantive policy ideas Trump contains regarding environmental policy, but he did say on Monday regarding increased global temperatures that, “It’ll start getting cooler. You — you just watch. I don’t think science knows, actually.” So hey, at least we have that going for us.
We are in the middle of a global pandemic, so I feel like healthcare should play a major role in the upcoming election. One of Trump’s campaign promises in 2016 was to abolish the Affordable Care Act, something that according to numerous polls is quite popular in America. Not only was Trump unsuccessful in this regard, he is trending in the wrong direction. Fifty-nine percent of Americans want a national healthcare option that competes with private insurance. Joe Biden — through expanding the ACA — wants a national healthcare option that competes with private insurance. Huh. Well those last two sentences sure sounded similar. But, as this past year has proven, healthcare goes beyond campaign promises and plans. America, and even the world, are in dire need of a leader who can restore structure and calm in the midst of this pandemic. We need a leader that actually listens to doctors and scientists and is less worried about his wounded ego than the lives of his fellow countrymen and women. Say what you want about Joe Biden, but he is undeniably compassionate and humble.
This leads me to one of the central points of this column. If we just stop obsessing over Trump, we will actually notice that Joe Biden holds significantly popular policy stances and ideologies. Let’s emphasize those positions. This election does not have to be a referendum on Trump; Joe Biden is a way stronger candidate than people give him credit for. If we dare to take a stand and force the narrative of this election back to a head-to-head battle between Trump and Biden, I think Biden will win. Together, we can elect one of the most progressive presidents in American history.
Clark Bowden is a senior political science major. When he’s not sleeping through his alarm or reminding people that he studied abroad, he can be found in heated political debates or watching the Washington Nationals play baseball. He can be reached at [email protected] or @BowdenClark on Twitter.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.