Opinion | Are you better off than you were four years ago?

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“Next Tuesday is Election Day. Next Tuesday all of you will go to the polls, and stand there in the polling place, and make a decision. I think, when you make that decision, it might do well if you would ask yourself: are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in a store than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we’re as strong as we were four years ago? And if you answered all of those questions ‘yes’, why, then, I think your choice is very obvious who you’ll vote for. If you don’t agree, if you don’t think that this course we’ve been on for the last four years is what you would like to see us follow for the next four, then I could suggest another choice that you have.” – then-candidate Ronald Reagan, October 1980.

I’ve written extensively in this paper for the past two years on the importance of eliminating Trump – and Trumpism – from politics at large. The end goal is not to help or aid anyone, just to push minorities and political opponents out of the public sphere for good, no matter the means. The amount of hate mail I’ve gotten simply for being someone trans and active in campus and local politics is testament to that. But I’m not here to make an emotional argument (again, anyways). I’m here to pose a simple question – are you better off now than you were four years ago? 

Let’s ignore everything else briefly and look at the university level specifically. Federal financial aid is being cut across the board by Secretary DeVos. Higher education is being devastated by cuts made at the federal level to budgeting. And, of course, most of campus here and everywhere else is shut down for the foreseeable future due to a pandemic the Trump Administration failed to take any control over. None of us have any idea when – or if – we’ll be able to return to campus life as normal. As a senior, it certainly looks like we’re not going to get to experience any of it. Are you better off than you were four years ago? 

Let’s expand from that a bit. Are you a millionaire? I doubt it. You’ve seen absolutely no tax benefit whatsoever, with the “middle class tax cut” Trump promised in 2016 never showing up, only materializing for his rich donors. You’re presumably one of the 90% of Americans who don’t own stock can you really say that his hyped “stock market gains” have done anything for you? One of the only ways the average American has felt the Trump economy is that they’ve quite plausibly lost their job, with unemployment levels even higher than the Great Depression. You’ve gotten no tax cut, felt no benefit of the “booming stock market,” and thanks to a pandemic the Trump Administration failed to take any control over, you’ve possibly lost your job. Are you better off than you were four years ago? 

Of course, we’ve mentioned the pandemic several times, so let’s look at that. Hundreds of thousands of families will be missing a loved one this Thanksgiving at the dinner table, and, of course, that’s assuming you can even have Thanksgiving at a dinner table, with thousands of people losing their homes due to financial instability brought on due to COVID-19. Hell, maybe you’ve been one of the 8,900,000 people in the US to come down with the disease – we’ve certainly had no shortage of them on campus. Maybe you’re one of the 55% of patients who have experienced permanent lung damage as a result of it, even from a mild case. Maybe you had to go to the hospital for it – and you’re one of the millions that lost your insurance when the ACA’s individual mandate was repealed. There are people receiving hospital bills for more than $200,000 because they can’t afford insurance, people who have spent their life savings getting treatment for this disease. Are you better off than you were four years ago? 

To the people who supported Trump four years ago – have you gotten what you wanted? The mythical “wall” hasn’t been built, he hasn’t created jobs, he hasn’t lowered taxes, he’s surrounded himself with the same people he’s decried as the “swamp” four years ago. Your taxes are going to foot bills at his hotel, to buy steak for campaign donors, to buy champagne for his family and friends. You’ve gotten nothing that you asked for. Are you better off than you were four years ago? 

The average American has lost their jobs, their savings and even their loved ones, and have gotten nothing to show for it. People are living in fear that they’ll lose more than that too. I’m one of them. I’ve lost legal protections under the Trump Administration, and there’s plenty more at stake than that, too – healthcare and rights galore, declared unconstitutional under the reign of Trump’s SCOTUS nominee, conservative ideologue and judicial hack Amy Coney Barrett. But that’s just me personally. And I’m sure there’s plenty like me, too. 

This is a pivotal moment in history, and we are the generation that will soon inherit leadership of the world. To quote a Mr. Kaworu Nagisa: “You must seize the future. It is what you live for.” 

I’ve written many articles since the start of this campaign season two years ago. And for my final words, I’d just like to ask once more – are you better off than you were four years ago?  


Van Beusekom, M. (2020, June 30). Study finds lung impairment in recovering COVID-19 patients. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/06/study-finds-lung-impairment-recovering-covid-19-patients 

Silva, D. (2020, March 17). Who Benefited Most From the Trump Tax Cuts? Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.policygenius.com/taxes/who-benefited-most-from-the-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act/ 

Marcella Bombardieri, C. (2018, February 14). Trump’s Budget Proposes More Than $200 Billion in Cuts to Students. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education-postsecondary/news/2018/02/14/446660/trumps-budget-proposes-200-billion-cuts-students/ 

Kreighbaum, A. (2019, March 12). White House wants 12 percent cut in education spending. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/03/12/white-house-wants-12-percent-cut-education-spending 

Whistle, W. (2020, February 13). Trump Budget Proposes Cuts To Education. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/wesleywhistle/2020/02/10/trump-budget-proposes-cuts-to-education/ 

Long, H. (2020, September 11). Analysis | The Trump vs. Obama economy – in 16 charts. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/09/05/trump-obama-economy/ 

Madison V. King is a senior political science major and an opinion contributor for The Rocket. She currently serves as a College of Liberal Arts senator for the Student Government Association.

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