Why The Spectator is Endorsing Joe Biden for President of the United States
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In almost any election in the past, a candidate whose main pitch is a return to decency and normalcy would be a weak candidate. But the 2020 election is not a standard election, and normalcy is exactly what America needs. The Spectator is endorsing Vice President Joe Biden for president because this election is about the man currently in the Oval Office. Over the last four years, President Donald Trump’s policies, political rhetoric, and personal conduct have disqualified him for another term. The COVID-19 pandemic has continually demonstrated his inability to govern in a crisis, and the recent mass protests have highlighted the extent of his willingness to pour gasoline on the embers of partisan conflict. America has reached a historical crossroads for democracy and unity. Joe Biden promises to govern all of America and to unify rather than to foment hate and division. His commitment to this basic tenet of the American system and a progressive governing agenda make him the clear and crucial choice over his opponent, who has demonstrated over his entire career a commitment to the opposite of both.
The political career that brought Trump to where he is today began during the 2008 presidential election, when he made his entrance into right-wing politics as a prominent proponent of the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama, the most major Black candidate for president to date, was actually born in Kenya, thus making him ineligible for the presidency, an idea with no basis in reality and no purpose but to undermine a prominent Black politician’s legitimacy to hold power. Over the next eight years, he became known as a regular caller-in to Fox News and for his bombastic and often outright counterfactual Twitter account. Then, in 2015, he announced a bid for the Republican presidential nomination with a speech in which he infamously said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best … They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, their rapists—and some, I assume, are good people.” His campaign quickly descended further when he called for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”—a goal he would later try to effect—in December. By March, when he was far and away the likeliest candidate to win the nomination, he had already built up a rich record of calling for violence against protestors at his rallies.
In the general election, he focused largely on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s alleged crimes, a list of offenses that included a botched explanation of a terrorist attack that killed four American officials in Benghazi, Libya and a host of vague but severe charges surrounding Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server. With these accusations serving as fuel, his Republican National Convention was host to gleeful chants of “Lock her up.”
His presidency has gone fairly predictably. On the one hand, he has pursued fairly standard Republican policy. He pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, which had been a major step toward international cooperation on tackling climate change. On the other hand, he has mixed this standard Republicanism with uniquely Trumpian quirks, such as persistently pushing for the arrest of his political opponents; being friendly with dictators while alienating liberal, democratic allies—an especially disturbing trend in a world that seems increasingly divided between authoritarian and liberal countries; and rolling back Obama’s efforts to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants while turning what was the sometime practice under Obama of separating families into administration policy. As his presidency has progressed, the line between him and his party has increasingly blurred, and this year’s Republican platform merely endorsed “the President’s America-first agenda.”
Perhaps scariest is how he has culled violence. His pushing of a conspiracy theory in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections that Jewish billionaire George Soros was funding a migrant caravan in an “invasion” of the U.S. inspired the deadliest anti-Semitic terrorist attack in U.S. history, and under his administration, hate crimes in general have soared. After a fervent supporter of his sent pipe bombs to prominent politicians and journalists, he swiftly condemned the violence—and then immediately went back to the rhetoric that had prompted it, sending a clear message to any similarly-minded supporters. He has expressed fervent support for police brutality in dealing with protestors, and during the summer sent unmarked and militarized federal agents into Portland. Just this month, during the first presidential debate, he was asked to condemn the Proud Boys, a particularly vicious and gleefully violent White supremacist group. Instead, he told them to “stand back and stand by” and said that someone had to deal with the radical left, implying that they ought to do so.
And then, of course, there is the coronavirus. Stuyvesant students are acutely aware of how he has handled that: downplaying the virus, denying its importance, and using “personal liberty” as an excuse not to promote mask-wearing, well after the Centers for Disease Control said mask-wearing should be a ubiquitous public health measure. Even if one believes the government ought not force people to wear masks, there is no question as to whether the president ought to encourage it, and he has not. The proof of Trump’s failure is in the pudding of the disproportionate number of Americans the virus has killed: despite making up five percent of the world’s population, the U.S. accounts for over 20 percent of its COVID deaths. When Trump’s utter irresponsibility led to his contracting the virus, some hoped it would make him more vigilant about it and that it would cause him to reveal how serious it was. Instead, he has used the fact that he, with access to the world’s best medical care, recovered as a reason that Americans should be cavalier about the disease.
If Americans re-elect Trump, they will endorse his policy and personality, empowering an erratic man no longer constrained by officials around him. Trump will continue to appoint conservative judges, roll back environmental regulation, push for more tax cuts, and resist efforts to help people hurt by the coronavirus-induced recession. He will continue from the Oval Office to cheer on conspiracy theories, attack the media as “the enemy of the people,” and insert himself into every controversy in the culture war. Trump's reelection would be a final repudiation of any expectation of decency from political leaders. Any candidate who lacks morality or acts misogynistic can point to the man in the Oval Office and look saintly by comparison. In other areas, a second term would not only be a continuation but an escalation. Trump is now free of members of his own administration who acted as a check on his anti-democratic overreaches or reckless actions. A second term Trump administration, therefore, would be filled completely with corrupt and under-qualified sycophants. In our system, one man has the power to go to war and to use civilization ending weapons. Not only is Trump mentally erratic and obviously not cognizant of the humbling power he wields, he will have no one around him to help check his worse tendencies. The second Trump term would be a continuation of the first but with a democracy more battered, a man less restrained, and a country closer to collapse.
Joe Biden is the antithesis of Trump. Anyone who’s close to him will describe him as “good” and “decent.” No stranger to tragedy and hardship, “Joe” dedicated his life to improving prospects for those even less fortunate than himself. Unlike Trump, who received hundreds of millions of dollars in wealth from his father, Biden grew up in a working class family in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He overcame his stutter and went on to become one of the most influential people in politics today.
After earning his B.A. from the University of Delaware (he would be the first president since Jimmy Carter to hold a degree from a public university and the first since Gerald Ford to hold a degree from a state university) and working in law for several years, he ran for the United States Senate in 1972, defeating the highly favored Republican incumbent to become one of the youngest senators in the history of the nation. When everything seemed to be going right for Biden, his daughter and wife were tragically killed in a car crash, and his two sons were severely injured. Despite the unimaginable pain of his losses, Biden still fulfilled, and excelled at, his duty as Delaware’s senator. In order to spend as much time with his sons as possible, he commuted to Washington and back to their home in Wilmington, Delaware daily via Amtrak train.
While in the Senate, Biden became prominent for his foreign policy expertise. He championed policies such as expanding NATO while opposing the genocide in Darfur, eventually earning himself the chairmanship of the Committee on Foreign Relations. In addition, he became a leader in nuclear arms control, heading a committee in talks over arms limitation with Kremlin officials. He had his missteps—most notably, he, along with the vast majority of elected officials, supported the Iraq War—but his overall record was long and sturdy.
After an unsuccessful presidential bid in 1987, which he had to drop when past incident of plagiarism surfaced, Biden continued to serve in the Senate until 2008, when, after another fizzled presidential run, he was selected by Senator Barack Obama as his running mate for that year’s election. While vice president, Biden cemented his legacy as a foreign policy virtuoso, implementing a number of policies that aided the United States overseas greatly; for instance, he built upon his expertise in nuclear antiproliferation to be instrumental in effecting the New START treaty between the U.S. and Russia for arms reduction. Given the centrality of the presidency to foreign policy and vice-versa, having as much policymaking experience, not to mention friends on the international stage, as Joe Biden is a significant asset in a President.
In addition to foreign policy, Biden has been a vocal supporter of stricter gun control laws, but his other efforts to combat violence have been less successful. His 1994 crime bill became a major driver of mass incarceration. However, violent crime was a bigger problem in the 1990s than it is now, and the bill had significant support within the Black communities it would end up hurting the most. And Biden has done the right thing since: recognized his error, apologized, and tried to do better in the future. He also has significant experience in working across the aisle; for instance, he averted an economic crisis in 2013 by negotiating a bipartisan tax deal with Republicans and Mitch McConnell.
If elected, Biden would likely be one of the most liberal presidents ever. He would almost certainly crack down with more coronavirus restrictions, likely a federal mask mandate, something that President Trump has mocked. Biden would also implement a radical climate policy and reenter the Paris Climate Accord to help the nation slow the impact of climate change. Biden has progressive views on other issues as well. He advocates for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour as a true fighter for the working class—a group that Biden correctly sees as including not only White factory workers in the Midwest but also Black mailroom workers in New York City. He will increase taxes on the rich, but won’t increase taxes for households earning less than $400,000 annually.
One Biden stance that the Stuyvesant community may feel resonates with them most is education: Biden supports lowering the cost of college, ensuring that two years of public college are free for everyone, and other initiatives to ensure that high quality education is accessible to all.
From his humble roots in Scranton to the highest office in the land, one thing is for certain: Joe Biden will work every day to make life better for all Americans—not just the rich and powerful. And he’ll do it all without tear-gassing a single protestor.