Why you have to vote this November

If you don’t want four more years of President Trump, you should vote

By Srija Nagireddy, Collegian Columnist

Election day is drawing close, and along with it comes the question of who to vote for. But the two major-party candidates this election cycle are, to put it lightly, not ideal. President Donald Trump is a right-wing hardliner with authoritarian dreams. Former Vice President Joe Biden is a conservative-leaning anachronism from an era far removed from the increasingly progressive Democratic base. Both are quite far from the progressive candidate many young people are looking for.

In a perfect world, an election like this would allow you to vote for your ideal candidate with the confidence that they have a tenable shot at the presidency, regardless of what party they belong to. However, America operates on a two-party system that effectively precludes third party candidates from winning the presidential race, narrowing the choice to either the Democratic or Republican nominee. The only person with a chance to take the election from President Trump is Biden, and thus voting for Biden is the only way to keep Trump out of office for the next four years.

Refraining from partaking in the election, therefore, is an act of passive acceptance of whatever the election outcome may be. It’s an implicit acceptance and endorsement of Trump, who then will helm our country through the rest of the pandemic and increasing social unrest. Thus, anyone who claims to loathe the principles Trump stands for needs to be doing whatever they can to ensure this term is his last.

That means voting for Biden.

This election determines not just the outcome of the next four years, but also of the political landscape for many years to come. The consequences of Trump’s record-setting appointments of conservative judges to appeals courts is one which will have profound consequences on the way the Constitution is carried out far into the future. The Supreme Court controversy is also notable here. Having a 6-3 ratio in favor of the conservative opinion (with the possibility of more with Trump’s reelection) acting as the highest arbitrator of law is biased and unreflective of the political landscape of our country.

Electing Biden means more than simply making him president. It also entails voting for all presidential appointees, including the people who hold key cabinet positions. Trump’s appointments have already done irreparable damage in terms of rolling back key regulations and dismantling important functions of their respective agencies. His cabinet is so ill-suited for their positions it’s almost absurd. The current administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is a sterling example of this, a climate-denier who seems to be more preoccupied with dismantling the agency than running it. The EPA is not the only agency to face this fate, and the reprehensible, politically-motivated meddling of the work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the Trump administration begs increased scrutiny. We are in the midst of a pandemic, and now more than ever we need our agencies to provide scientifically-backed and factual information to the public in an accessible manner, which is one of Biden’s campaign priorities.

Not voting as a deliberate political statement is a dismissal of the harm Trump has inflicted upon this country in the last four years, and the harm that will continue should he be re-elected. To be able to ignore the real violence Trump’s rhetoric inflicts upon minorities and disadvantaged groups is a luxury not afforded to those who have to face the consequences of his reckless and cruel policy decisions. Ensuring this stops is something only voting can achieve. Standing up for the oppressed means doing what you can, given the current limitations of our political systems, and then taking further action, be it through protesting and other forms of advocacy.

That’s not to say Biden’s presidency will harken a wonderful world of equality for all. The Obama era, the time Biden has banked his entire campaign on, was not the utopian paradise his campaign constantly paints it as. Their promises to harken a return back to that time ignores its many issues, like the reliance on overly-aggressive foreign policy and the treatment of undocumented immigrants. In addition, especially considering the national conversation over Black Lives Matter, the systematic racial oppression of Black, Indigenous and People of Color in our country was not some new invention created in Trump’s America. It existed in spades before this. Biden’s nostalgia-driven policy undoubtedly leaves much to be desired, but he differs from Trump in one vital way that makes him the clear choice: he respects democracy. Trump has notably not committed to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the election, a completely unprecedented move that more echoes the mindset of a dictator as opposed to a democratically elected president.

A full-blown constitutional crisis is far from what our country needs at the moment, and voting Trump out with the largest margin possible is imperative to avoid this, even if the alternative is not ideal. This election is a contest between two geriatric white men of undoubtedly questionable moral character. Making an active choice and voting for Biden is, rightly so, an uncomfortable thought for many. However, now is not the time for passivity, and the best way to take a demonstrative stance against Trump is to vote him out of office.

I’ll end this article with a plea for you to go out and vote. The deadline to register to vote in Massachusetts is Oct. 24, and if you are planning to send in an absentee ballot, make sure it’s postmarked by Nov. 3 and received no later than Nov. 6.

More voting information can be found here.

Srija Nagireddy can be reached at [email protected]