We cannot elect Donald Trump to a second term in office

Another term of the Trump Presidency would be disastrous for our democracy

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Ron Sachs/CNP/Zuma Press/TNS

By Benjamin Schnurr, Collegian columnist

After a long, bitter, unpredictable campaign, the election is finally here, and voters must make their final decision on who the next leaders of the nation will be. This final decision comes as COVID-19 cases are surging across the nation and political extremists are threatening violence at the polls. There is no doubt that the issues facing voters this year carry far more weight than usual. This is why we cannot allow the partisanship that has made this campaign so divisive control who we vote for. We must put the interests of the nation before the goals of individual parties and elect leaders who can effectively meet the challenges of our time and ensure our protection.

For this reason, we cannot make the mistake of electing President Donald Trump to a second term in office. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, the vision he has for the nation would only serve to further divide the American people and erode the institutions of our democracy. Trump is not a unifier, he’s a fighter. But he does not fight for his country, he only fights for himself. Given the choice between him and Joe Biden—a man experienced in government who has been endorsed by a historically large number of Republicans—the answer is clear.

Supporting Biden over Trump does not mean you have to get behind everything he or the Democratic Party supports. It is nearly impossible to find a candidate who perfectly embodies your worldview. But to think of Trump simply as the Republican version of Biden would be a false equivalency. President Trump is the one who actively ignored warnings about the coronavirus because he panicked, refused to wear or support masks despite the evidence that they reduce the risk of transmission and has since failed to assume any federal leadership to address the pandemic. He is the one who pulled the nation out of the Paris Climate Agreement and slashed environmental protections despite warnings from the vast majority of climate scientists that action must be taken within the next decade to avoid the potentially cataclysmic effects of climate change. He is the one who withheld security aid from Ukraine to pressure them into influencing the U.S. election. He is also the one who refuses to accept the peaceful transition of power and has spread lies about mail-in voting in an attempt to confuse and scare people from voting. There is only one candidate that has consistently flouted democratic norms and ignored the pressing issues of our times, and it is imperative that he does not remain in office.

Some voters may be rightfully skeptical of some of the far-left tendencies seen more recently within the Democratic Party. It is true that an increasingly vocal portion of radicals have sought to simplify many of the issues we face to matters of racial and economic inequality and have advocated radical, sometimes illiberal changes for addressing these issues. This reductionist approach to politics is understandable given the real inequality visible throughout American society, but these radicals often go too far and find issues of race and inequality where they simply don’t exist. This should be something people are concerned about, but the greater threat to American society lies in Trump’s continued leadership. The far left is not the mainstream of the Democratic party, and Biden has distanced himself from that wing of the party on multiple occasions, such as when he came out against defunding the police and supported reform programs instead. The far-right, however, has become the mainstream in the Republican Party. Trump has associated with a number of prominent far right figures such as Steve Bannon and Alex Jones. The far-right at the moment is a far greater threat to our democracy than the far-left. Electing Donald Trump to a second term would only serve to strengthen the far-right and embolden the far-left while the center becomes increasingly squeezed.

This year especially, it is paramount that we vote to support our democracy. We as a nation will be faced with the same question the founders faced before adopting the Constitution – “whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force,” as Alexander Hamilton put it in the Federalist Papers. Can the nation, over 200 years after we begun this experiment in democracy, hold true to the norms and values which have defined our system of governance since its inception, or will the forces of partisanship and tribalism come to dominate politics for the foreseeable future? This election is our opportunity to prove that our commitment to the principles of republican government don’t ring hollow when threatened by the forces of division. To do this, we must repudiate Trump and restore confidence in our system of government.

Benjamin Schnurr can be reached at [email protected]