Our View is a staff editorial produced collaboratively by The Rocket Staff. Any views expressed in the editorial are the opinions of the staff members listed at the end of this piece.
To review our editorial policy, which includes our blotter policy, click here.
Throughout the past eight months, college students nationwide had to endure a political and social climate unlike any combination of historical events we have seen in our lifetimes. Between the coronavirus interrupting class delivery and internship opportunities, to the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, we are witnesses to multiple historical events unfolding at once.
Now, we endure a consequential presidential election to decide how we want our America to look for the next four years.
During this semester, we cannot restrict our votes to single issues. Racial inequality, LGBTQ+ rights, the pandemic, healthcare and climate change are just some of the issues that influence college students’ decisions on voting.
For these reasons, the staff members listed at the end of this editorial endorse Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.
Coronavirus pandemic response
With the Coronavirus pandemic having already claimed the lives of over 227,000 Americans, President Donald Trump has falsely claimed that the U.S. is rounding the turn despite a rise in infections per day in 47 states and deaths per day in 34.
This is a shortcoming in a long line of downplaying, misinforming and dangerously playing with the lives of the American people. In an interview with Bob Woodward in March, Trump admitted that he has always wanted to downplay the virus to not create a panic.
After the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommended in April that the American people wear masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Trump was not seen wearing a mask in public until July. He said the CDC guidelines were only a recommendation and he would probably not wear a mask.
Trump’s lack of a coronavirus plan has come at the cost of hundreds of thousands of American lives, and it is time for a president who believes in science and actually has a plan for how to stop the spread while getting the American people back on their feet.
Implemented during the President Barack Obama-Biden administration, the Affordable Care Act is currently at risk because the Trump administration claims it’s illegal because Congress eliminated the individual tax penalty for failing to purchase medical insurance. Doing this in the middle of a pandemic is inexcusable.
As president, Biden plans on creating The Biden Plan, which would protect and build off of the existing Affordable Care Act. It would give Americans a new choice in public health insurance options like Medicare. The Biden Plan would expand coverage to low-income Americans, providing peace of mind through affordable, quality healthcare and a less-complex healthcare plan.
On our own staff, multiple people have preexisting conditions and rely greatly on their parents’ health insurance to pay for expensive equipment and medication. Especially during this pandemic, we must prioritize our own access to these life-improving and life-saving medications by voting for the candidate with the plan best suited to protect those with preexisting conditions.
Human rights: Black America and the LGBTQ+ community
Trump has refused to condemn white supremacy on multiple occasions, despite creating The Platinum Plan for Black Americans. Included in his Platinum Plan is prosecuting the KKK as a terrorist organization, which cannot be done without denouncing white supremacy. Instead, President Trump told the Proud Boys (which classified as a “general hate” group by the Southern Poverty Law Center) to “stand back and stand by” during the first presidential debate.
For an example of when Trump could have denounced white supremacy, Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides” and “blame on both sides” when referring to rally-goers and the counter protesters at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville in 2017.
Trump and his administration have also been gradually chipping away at LGBTQ+ rights over the past four years of his presidency. He has attempted to strip transgender people of their recognized identities and civil rights protections, and put great barriers between LGBTQ+ people and their access to healthcare.
In a detailed plan found on Biden’s campaign website, Biden details exactly how he will advance LGBTQ+ equality in America by standing with the community and protecting them from violence and discrimination.
Attacks on media
As student journalists, we cannot ignore the rhetoric that Trump has dangerously pushed against the media throughout his entire presidency. In a special report from the Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ), threats to news organizations, members of the press are often booed at Trump rallies and the reporters named in his tweets are harassed online. CPJ adds that Trump’s press secretaries and other White House officials have repeatedly attacked the press, often mimicking the president’s own rhetoric.
Fox News’s own Chris Wallace also stated, “I believe that President Trump is engaged in the most direct sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history,” at an event in December 2019. As journalism students during Trump’s presidency, conversations about “fake news,” Trump’s rhetoric and journalists’ safety while reporting often arise during classes- a strong characterization of the state of a free press today. Compared to the Obama administration and Biden campaign, the anti-media rhetoric from Trump and his closest aides has been more prevalent and vitriolic.
Trump’s push towards fossil fuels came at an inept time when the coal industry began its collapse. Focusing towards oil and gas, Trump reversed plans to block construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines, while expanding federal areas open to drilling.
During Trump’s administration, numerous climate regulations were relaxed on coal plants, toxic chemicals and more.
Biden’s Green New Deal climate action plan detailed five key pillars to address the climate emergency. His plan will ensure the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050; build a stronger, more resilient nation; rally the rest of the world to meet the threat of climate change; stand up to the abuse of power by polluters who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities; and fulfill our obligation to workers and communities who powered our industrial revolution and subsequent decades of economic growth.
As nine white cisgender people, we can only speak for a limited portion of the struggles of racial minority groups, the LGBTQ+ community and those who are food insecure, especially during the pandemic. However, we need to vote for the candidate that best represents these interests to support college students nationwide.
This is arguably the most consequential election of our lifetime, and for many SRU students (including some Rocket staff members), this will be their first election. This includes races up and down the ballot, including the campaigns of Kolbe Cole and Johnathan Peffer to unseat incumbent Aaron Bernstine for PA District 10 and Kristy Gnibus to unseat U.S. Congressman Mike Kelly in the 16th Congressional District of PA.
If you haven’t sent in your mail-in ballot, turn it in to a local drop-off location before Tuesday. If you’re voting in person, stick out the line and let your vote be heard. We cannot settle for less than our right to participate in the systems that will dramatically impact our way of life for years to come.
Signed: Hannah Shumsky, Nina Cipriani, Karl Ludwig, Hope Hoehler, Aaron Marrie, Lesa Bressanelli, Brendan Howe, Keegan Beard, Jack Konesky