Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
November 29, 2020

Opposing Viewpoints: Stop telling people to vote. It won’t save us.

By AMANI NELSON | October 23, 2020

biden-opposing-viewpoints

PUBLIC DOMAIN / JOHN D'CRUZ

DESIGN BY LAKSHAY SOOD

Faced with two subpar candidates and a broken political system, Nelson defends the decision not to cast a ballot while Jin makes the case for progressives and leftists to vote Biden. 

From the California wildfires to the Breonna Taylor verdict to a deadly pandemic that has killed over 220,000 Americans, the response to every tragic, horrible and devastating thing that has happened this year has been “vote.” Why? 

In the 2017 film Wonder Woman, Diana Prince goes on a mission to destroy Ares, the god of war who she believes has corrupted mankind so greatly that they are now at war with one another. Diana discovers, however, that Ares has merely empowered mankind to act upon their worst impulses; he “whispers in their ears,” but he does not make them do anything. Even after Diana defeats Ares, the world he helped create remains.

This is eerily similar to the situation we are faced with now. The 2016 election and the subsequent presidency has pushed many Americans to act on their worst impulses. People drove cars into Black Lives Matter protests, killing or seriously injuring innocent civilians. A group of domestic terrorists planned to kidnap the governor of Michigan, and a sheriff in the state defended them. Our Ares-like figures are the president spreading threats and conspiracy theories from his own Twitter account and companies like Facebook profiting off of hate speech and controversy, which has directly led to violent acts such as the Kenosha shooting. So, what do we do? 

At first the answer seems obvious: Defeat Ares. Remove the current president and all of our problems will go away — but that was not the case for Wonder Woman, and it is not the case for us. The system of controversy, misinformation and outright fascism that has enabled the current presidency and subsequent political climate will remain long after Nov. 3. 

The innocent children currently in cages were put there by a Democratic president and are being kept there by a Republican president. The current president is 74 years old; his opposing candidate is 77, the speaker of the house is 80, the senate majority leader is 78 and all of these people are white. 

After the second warmest year on record, scientists estimate that 15% of the world’s population is vulnerable to climate-change-related catastrophes and the number will continue to rise every year. Despite this, neither presidential candidate has a plan that would stand up to partisan bickering over the “reality” of climate change after they’ve left office. 

United States billionaires became $434 billion richer during the worst economic crisis in living memory. 90% of Americans support universal background checks and yet that level of gun control has not been passed through Congress. What is possibly the largest movement in American history which calls for police defunding and resource reallocation has no significant support from either party.

Putting Joe Biden in power, flipping the Senate and retaining the House will fix exactly none of these problems. If anything, older white Democrats will attempt to stifle the aforementioned concerns with empty promises and performative activism rather than openly attack them.

Now, I don’t wish to be overly reductive and claim both of these candidates are “equally terrible,” because they are not. The current president has 26 sexual assault and misconduct allegations and has done terrible things that threaten the lives of many marginalized groups in this country and the very existence of democracy in America. In the first Presidential debate, he refused to denounce white supremacy and told a white supremacist militia to “stand by.” This should not be allowed to continue, and Republicans should be ashamed that they gave us this candidate.

But Democrats should also be ashamed that the candidate they have chosen has nine different sexual assault and harassment allegations. They should be ashamed that their vice-presidential candidate suppressed evidence that kept an innocent man on death row for months.

Perhaps the saddest reality of our country — barring America’s well-deserved annexation by a more sophisticated foreign power in the future — is that one of these two sexual predators will be president next year. If you would rather see one of them be president over the other, then by all means vote for them, but know that it comes with a trade-off. By voting for a terrible candidate you are encouraging that party to nominate terrible candidates.

If you cannot bring yourself to vote for either candidate, by all means write in Bill Cipher, but know that it could mean the worse candidate gets re-elected. If both of these sound like terrible options, welcome to America. There’s a deep rot in this country’s politics, and I don’t know if it’s even possible to get it out, but this election won’t move it one inch.

“But you still have to vote for Biden because if you don’t, you are voting for Trump.”

Nope, no, you are not. Voting for Trump is a vote for Trump; literally anything else is in fact not a vote for Trump. Exercising your constitutional right to vote does not require you to vote at all. Abstention is a perfectly valid stance that says, “Neither of these candidates has earned my vote.” If your hatred, fear or disgust of one candidate is strong enough for you to vote for someone who you consider to be substandard, that is also valid; but that is your choice, and if the past four years has taught me anything, you simply cannot force your belief system onto another person, so stop trying.

If you end up on the losing side of this election and you look for someone to blame, ask yourself: who financed these campaigns? Who supported these terrible candidates? Who gave them free, 24-hour news coverage? Who spreads misinformation? Who provided them with the most votes? Not Black people, not other minorities, not the working class or the working poor. 

Wealthy white Americans and their companies will continue to take all of the profit and none of the blame. They will pit marginalized groups against each other for not participating in the system that marginalized them in the first place. So, for the love of God, stop telling people to vote. They can decide on their own; and if they don’t vote, that doesn’t make them a monster, and it doesn’t even make them wrong — it makes them an American in 2020. 

Amani Nelson is a senior from Montgomery Village, Md. studying Public Health and Medicine, Science & the Humanities. She is a registered independent in the state of Maryland.

Errata: This article originally stated that neither candidate supports nuclear power. Joe Biden’s new climate change plan supports research on nuclear power. The News-Letter regrets this error. 

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