Op-ed: If we don’t vote, Trump’s daydreaming will keep hurting us


"File:Joe Biden February 2020 crop.jpg" by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, Arizona is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Some college students are supporting Biden’s campaign for presidency because of his proposed policies.

Jonas D. Ruzek, contributor

Unfortunately for the American public, it is one of the worst periods in U.S. history for the White House to indulge in general dishonesty and delusion.

Given the over 190,000 confirmed deaths of Americans due to COVID-19, a deafening economic plummet and the continuing debate about systemic racism, any competent president deserving of reelection would tend to the crises before them, saving lives and livelihoods. 

Perhaps a fit candidate would issue a multipronged plan concerned with four dilemmas: COVID-19, the economy, racism and climate change, all four of which are inextricably linked. 

Maybe a fit candidate would stay solidly tied to the gravity of the present and urge conciliation before tribalism. Coincidentally, one candidate has: former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Biden has presented comprehensive policy frameworks tailored to the present national climate. In July, he unveiled Build Back Better, a sweeping proposal designed to tackle the four aforementioned conundra simultaneously. In addition, he’s vowed, since his April 2019 entry into the race, to expand the Affordable Care Act to create a universal public option healthcare system, an infrastructure that is critical as COVID-19 continues to roil the country. 

This option also maintains Americans’ agency to choose between private and public insurance, invalidating cries of “Socialism!” 

In comparison, President Donald J. Trump is far from competent. All he can do is take attention away from how badly he’s failed, especially considering new reports from Watergate reporter Bob Woodward that Trump intentionally minimized the threat of the virus early on. 

All this suggests the urgency of voting to restore sanity and functionality to the federal government. Young people, stereotyped for their putative electoral indolence, should rise to the occasion and fulfill their civic duty to vote. If we fail to, we will almost certainly plunge our country into irreparable decline, from humanitarian and democratic standpoints. 

We will share accountability for the harm and deaths that shall inevitably follow a Trump reinauguration. 

Trump, by executive order, replaced the $600 weekly unemployment benefits as part of the federal coronavirus rescue package — benefits which expired in July because Congress failed to agree on how to keep the unemployed afloat — with a mere $300 per week, which is too little to make a difference for indebted, struggling families. This also doesn’t apply to gig workers and only applies to states that already dole out $100 in weekly unemployment aid without federal help, which depends on the state’s minimum wage. Trump has also done little to catalyze meaningful compromise on a deadlocked Capitol Hill. 

Chief White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow, on July 26, even told CNN reporter Jake Tapper on the reporter’s “State of the Union” show, “I don’t think the economy’s going south. I think it’s going north.” 

Four days after these claims, the Commerce Department projected that if the U.S. gross domestic product kept dropping throughout the year at the rate it did during the second fiscal quarter of 2020, the year would see the worst annual GDP decline in U.S. history. 

Other White House officials, like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also tried to time travel. On night three of the Republican National Convention, or RNC, he said, “Indeed, the primary constitutional function of the national government is ensuring that your family and mine are safe and enjoy the freedom to live, to work, to learn, and to worship as they choose.”

Surely, the untamed COVID-19 pandemic threatens all four of these supposed freedoms, so Pompeo’s insinuation that Trump’s federal government is fulfilling its “primary constitutional function” is erroneous. 

The very fact that thousands sat, cramped together and largely maskless, on the White House’s lawn on the final night of the RNC, indicates a perverse abdication of basic ethics and a clinging to an abandoned normalcy. 

Careless conduct like this is hardly idiosyncratic for Trump; on Sunday, he held an entirely indoor, packed rally in Nevada, flouting the state’s limit of 50 people at any given gathering. 

The president also flagrantly kicked off his reelection bid with an indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma in late June, an event some health experts deemed a superspreader potentially responsible for some of the state’s viral surge this past summer.

Amid Trump’s diatribes aimed at Black Lives Matter protests, the event was initially scheduled for June 19, or Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the emancipation of U.S. slaves. After public outcry over the fact that Tulsa suffered one of the deadliest and most destructive racial massacres in U.S. history, the Trump campaign backed down on this racially insensitive action, pushing the event to June 20. 

Sometimes the undertones are more overt, though. On August 24, the first night of the RNC, Donald Trump Jr. asked Americans, “Hey, remember how great the economy was?”

“Biden also wants to bring in more illegal immigrants to take jobs from American citizens,” he said. “His open-border policies would drive wages down for Americans at a time when low-income workers were getting real wage increases for the first time in modern history.”

This speech departs from reality repeatedly, as Trump Jr.’s points about immigration and taking money from the working-class (which benefited marginally from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) are invalid at best. 

The remarks were evidently disembodied from their context: a recession directly caused by the president’s bungling of the coronavirus. 

Just as Trump owned the pre-pandemic economy, he owns today’s. And it’s also not as if dealing with the pandemic and economy are mutually exclusive successes; a healthy market is contingent upon a robust public health response.

There’s only one candidate in the 2020 presidential race that recognizes this, and he’s not in charge right now. 

Come November, Americans, and especially college students, should change that. We can’t sit this one out. 

Jonas D. Ruzek is a third-year journalism major. He can be reached at [email protected] or @RuzekD on Twitter.