Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 21, 2024

Dear Joe Biden, earn my vote

By LAIS SANTORO | April 16, 2020



Santoro urges Biden to support progressive policies during his presidential campaign.

Dear Joe, 

Congratulations! You did it. Bernie is out, and you must be overjoyed to be in the position you’re in. The path to victory is clearer than ever, and it’ll be you and Trump (most likely) in November. Great. 

But your journey to victory won’t be easy: You have not earned the youth vote yet. You haven’t earned mine.

I was one of the Bernie supporters saying, “Please don’t make me vote for Joe Biden,“ along with fellow activists around the country and world. I’m one of the Bernie supporters that even cried out of frustration, hopelessness and fear for what’s next when he suspended his campaign. I was one of the Bernie supporters who was extremely excited to vote for my first time for a president I truly believed in, and it’s not you. 

I don’t want to vote for you, Joe. I truly don’t. 

And it makes it kind of difficult to support you with your past track record. I’m a first-generation immigrant from Brazil, and while you were vice president for Obama, you deported 3 million undocumented immigrants. There were even more immigrants deported in a single year during the Obama administration than under Trump in the same amount of time. While more undocumented migrants are held in custody now, it doesn’t excuse the millions of people you helped send back home to dangerous living situations, and maybe even death. 

In the middle of a global pandemic, you still don’t support a universal health-care policy! Our current health-care system is clearly failing during this pandemic.

We are running out of supplies, don’t have enough testing — the list goes on. You said yourself that our response to this pandemic is about “investment and execution.” If you’re to invest in a universal health-care plan, now is the time to do it. Protecting the Affordable Care Act just isn’t enough, especially post-coronavirus. 

When it comes to protecting abortion rights, you haven’t been consistent and even voted in support of allowing states to overturn the federal policy. You support the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortions with some exceptions, but then tell a volunteer that it needs to be taken out, and then go back to saying it needs to stay? And then you say, “If I believe health care is a right as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s zip code?” I just hope you don’t go back on that final statement you made once again and say that “Oh, health care is a right for certain womxn,“ or “I’m going to give even more power to the states to overturn Roe v. Wade.”

And now, you have a criminal sexual assault complaint against you. And yes, multiple people, even womxn on your staff, deny the claims alongside you. Yet, this is just one of eight womxn who have accused you of inappropriate touching. Even you said yourself, that when a womxn makes such a claim in the national spotlight, at least part of what she says is true, and then you said that experience is like “jumping into a cauldron.”

Joe, please don’t compare a womxn sharing a traumatic moment of her life to “jumping into a cauldron” — it isn’t about you or your electability at that point. It’s about the womxn’s experience that she needed to share. We have to respect that the accusation brought up pain and memories that she probably didn’t want to bring up. At least now other womxn are aware that we not only have one rapist on the ballot, but now potentially another! 

And ah, the issue that I care about the most: climate change.

I’m relieved that you believe in climate change. That’s better than Trump has shown, and I’m glad that you plan to spend trillions on renewable energy in the future. You also have a decent record on climate: You introduced the first real piece of climate legislation in the Senate, the 1986 Global Climate Protection Act. You’re going to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. Hey, you even claim on your website that you support parts of the Green New Deal, that it “deserves an enormous amount of credit” and that we need drastic action for environmental justice

But your deadline for your “Clean Energy Revolution” is 2050. Scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report say that the deadline to take drastic action against climate change is actually 2030. Twenty years is a long time, Joe. 

Sunrise Movement even gave you a 75/200 on their Presidential scorecard, in comparison to Senator Sanders’ 183/200. And the point of the Green New Deal is that it’s a resolution that will be made up of other bills — housing, energy, food and transportation bills that all make up environmental justice. It’s not supposed to be specific, but it’s supposed to inspire ambitious action at the scope of the climate crisis. You need a bit more pushing.

I get it, you think we need a “middle ground.” But when it comes to the climate crisis, we need more from you, Joe. Youth climate activists will need more from you. And we know you’ll change because you know you need our votes. 

Right now, you haven’t earned my vote because you have not stood up for these values of mine consistently. I know you’re an establishment Democrat taking money from who knows where, but that doesn’t mean I don’t expect more, that the millions of young people that have supported Bernie since 2016 don’t expect more. 

However, I also know that four more years of Trump would be way worse and we’d be digging ourselves a deeper hole to get out of in the next election. Frankly, the one we’re in right now is already too deep. 

I know that I have to vote for you because we have a better chance of pushing you to protect our rights and our futures than we do with Trump. That doesn’t mean I’m going to advocate for you or vote for you happily, at least with the way you’re acting now. And even though Bernie endorsing you breaks my heart because I wish it was the other way around, you’ve committed to working with him on issues to show you are with us, and you’d better stick to that.  

The youth are coming for you. We need you to support the Green New Deal, in all its forms. We need you to support universal health care because our futures depend on it. If you want to beat Trump like you say you do, you need to earn our vote because you know that you can’t win without us. Bernie supported us and genuinely cared about the people of this country. 

Show us that you hear us, see us, that you understand the urgency of the moment we are in. We know you need us, and you know what you have to do to get us on your side. 

As I finish writing this, it’s finally hit me that Bernie isn’t going to be our president. Bernie won’t be the one to beat Trump. So you have to be. 

Sending my absolute best, 

Your dearest democratic socialist climate justice activist

Laís Santoro is a freshman from Downingtown, Pa. studying Public Health and Environmental Studies. She works with Sunrise Movement, who endorsed Sanders in January. 

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