By Qur’an Hansford and Austin Boland-Fergurson
As the last editorial before the presidential election on Nov. 3, The Rider News decided to endorse a candidate in hopes to encourage the student body to exercise their right to vote.
The United States is in the midst of a political divide where both sides are polarized in their ideologies.
The last four years were a trying time for democracy and as current President Donald Trump makes his argument to remain in office, it is hard as journalists to look past the president’s strong views on the fourth estate.
The fourth estate is the press; the profession of journalists whose job entails being a watchdog over the government. A journalist’s role as a watchdog is to inform the general public and be transparent about any discrepancies in regards to the governing of our nation.
Trump’s interactions with the media outside of ideological outlets like the One America News Network, who can be described as hyper-partisan at best, have been hostile and instinctually defensive. Trump’s rhetoric toward the media looks to undermine the hard and honest work that journalists from all walks of life do, so much so that he is willing to persuade his base of supporters that the media is “fake news,” which has landed reporters in uncomfortable, even hazardous situations when looking to cover the president’s rallies and public appearances.
“I am voting for Joe Biden because it is imperative to remove Trump from office. I feel Trump has created an extremely divided country where there is little anyone can agree on,” said junior journalism major and Features and Entertainment Editor Sarah Siock. “As an aspiring journalist, Trump’s attacks on reporters make it impossible for me to vote for him. He has repeatedly called the media ‘the enemy of the people.’ I feel his views of the media have caused the American people to distrust the news, which is extremely dangerous.”
Another troubling aspect of the Trump Administration is the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. With over 8 million positive tests and 200,000 deaths in the United States alone, it is hard to deny that Trump’s efforts (or lack thereof) to heed the advice of public health officials has resulted in a lot more damage than what was necessary, case in point with other countries’ stern, but effective handling of the pandemic.
“He has proven that he cannot properly manage the coronavirus. Trump will not listen to science and promotes a narrative that the virus is a hoax. These thoughts get us nowhere and hinder the progression of returning to normal life. I feel that Biden has a concrete plan to control the spread of coronavirus and he has said science will come first in his administration,” said Siock.
In contrast to Trump, Biden’s platform on COVID-19 will look to “listen to science, ensure public health decisions are informed by public health professionals and restore trust, transparency, common purpose and accountability to our government,” according to his campaign website.
Outside of the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden has proven on the campaign trail that he will be a more inclusive leader than president Trump, as he is cognisant to protect the rights of women, Black people, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community and other underrepresented communities in the United States.
“I align moreso with his policies than President Donald Trump’s policies. I think Joe Biden would be better at listening and ensuring that all Americans are seen and heard,” said senior journalism major and News Editor Tatyanna Carman.
Among other things, Biden has shown in other positions, including vice president, that he can outperform Trump in tackling climate change, foreign policy, being a policymaker and having experience in Washington, D.C.
Though The Rider News is supporting Biden for president, it does come with a few concerns about the candidate. Chief among those are his age, mental state and policy background.
When looking at it on its face, Biden is 77 years old, the same age former President Ronald Reagan was when he left office in 1989. Trump is not far behind at 74 years old himself, so that aspect is all but uncommon.
Despite the exaggeration and emphasis on Biden’s life-long speech impediment to couple what some media outlets portray as a deteriorating mental state, there are times where Biden does look lost when he is speaking, at times rambling and losing focus of main points. However, The Rider News still weighed confidence in Biden to be able to complete his duties as president, or at least to better ability than the current president.
It is also tough to deny Biden’s past dealings in policy, namely on crime and in the credit-card industry. Some of Biden’s biggest contributors in past senate campaigns included MBNA, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. More notably, in 2005, Biden was a key contributor and whip to the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, an act that put a lot of roadblocks in place for consumers filing bankruptcy.
“My reservations with Biden are really rooted in his history with race relations and mass incarceration, particularly the 1994 crime bill,” said senior journalism major and Executive Editor Stephen Neukam.
Biden’s role as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee in ushering the passage of The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 was more publicly criticized for its implementation of mandatory minimum sentencing and its role in the modern prevalence of mass incarceration. In Biden’s defense, the bill was a bipartisan effort and Biden has since said there were provisions at the time he did not support in the bill, including the ‘three-strike’ rule, mandatory minimum sentences and increased funding for state prisons.
In sum, the lack of effective leadership on behalf of Trump has led to a lot of damage both within the United States and abroad. In 2016, people voted for Trump as a political outsider, an underdog that others were working to keep out of office.
After being in office for the last four years, Trump has unequivocally proven why his status as an outsider should have remained that way in 2016. After a frustrating four years that has caused irreparable pain to so many communities within the country, it is more than clear that Trump’s mantra of “Make America Great Again” omitted a word. Trump’s policies and political decisions looked to “Make HIS America Great Again,” and anyone else who benefitted from it was in mere alignment to Trump’s status.
Headed out of a long, grueling 2020, America is in need of a leader that can start the healing process. He may not be able to see us to the finish line, but Biden is the clear option to best bolster the country’s chances to get back on track and make progress that the people of the United States so badly need.