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In 2016, some members of the Bates community were devastated by Donald Trump’s win. The day after the election, students cried in Commons, and some professors cancelled class.
The 2020 election was different for a number of reasons. Due to a record number of mail-in ballots, the results pointed toward Trump at some points on election night, but slowly turned in Joe Biden’s favor over the next few days.
Saturday morning, after a drawn-out, anxious wait, news networks finally named Biden the winner; however, Trump still has not conceded.
It was a record-setting ticket. Biden is the oldest man elected president at 78 years old. His running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, will be the first female, South Asian, and African-American vice president.
Student reactions to Biden’s victory varied. Some expressed unreserved enthusiasm for a Biden presidency while other students were more cautious, hopeful for a better future without Trump in the White House. A number of students remain unconvinced that Biden is the leader the U.S. needs.
Seven students shared their thoughts on the election, Biden’s victory, and the future of the nation as they see it.
A BURST OF ENERGY
Maddie Lee ‘24 was in the middle of a hard track workout when she found out Biden won. Groggy and tired, the news brought a jolt of excitement to her day.
“All the other girls who weren’t doing the [next sprint] were screaming,” she said. “We thought maybe the workout had gotten cut short, we were so confused…Everyone was celebrating, but then it just didn’t feel real.”
While she recognizes that a change in administration will not fix America’s problems, she said she was hopeful for what is to come.
“I think it’s just such a breath of fresh air. We’ve been holding our breath for weeks and weeks, probably four years. I didn’t want to imagine what it would have been like if it had gone the other way,” she said.
As an added bonus — Lee said her grandmother went out on the porch and yodeled for the whole neighborhood in happiness. “So cute, but that must have been quite a site!” she said.
LESSER OF TWO EVILS
Kyle Larry ‘21 isn’t ready to celebrate just yet. He is glad Trump lost, but remains troubled that Trump retains a loyal following.“The fact that so many people voted for [Trump] just shows you how white this country truly is,” he said.
Larry is particularly concerned with police reform. He believes that the police can be dismantled, paraphrasing a message from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “What would [defund the police] look like? It would look like the suburbs.”
Larry’s lived experience has shown him first-hand the disparities in policing. He is hopeful, but not convinced, that Biden will bring meaningful change to the criminalization of Black people and the militarization of the police.
“I think the one thing that people have to realize is that people aren’t happy because Biden won, people are happy because Trump lost,” he said. “[My feelings aren’t] so much of relief as much as still cautious of our new president.”
He believes that the election of Barack Obama in 2008 led some people to view the U.S. as a “post-racial” society. This, he said, is far from the truth.
“Just because he’s the lesser of two evils doesn’t mean he isn’t evil himself,” he said. “So yes, it’s phenomenal that Trump lost, but at the same time that he was even a candidate, that shows you how white this country truly is.”
A TALE OF TWO BEGINNINGS
Stella Terry ‘24 is feeling more hopeful about politics than she has before. However, she said the week leading up to the election, and the days following, were tense.
“As I would go around the campus, the question ‘How are you?’ was almost [always answered with] ‘I’m stressed’ or something like that,” she shared. “Going into the election, a lot of people didn’t know how it was going to play out with the coronavirus and how everything would happen.”
A resident of Oregon, Terry registered in Maine for her first election. She wanted a say in the senate election, and felt her vote would be more meaningful in Maine’s second district, a swing region which has a single electoral vote.
She was disappointed that Sara Gideon lost her election campaign, but buoyed by the prospect of a Biden-Harris administration, making sure to emphasize her excitement for Harris.
Like many underclassmen, Terry said the Trump years have shaped her perspective of politics in the U.S. Now, she is looking forward to a more conventional era with Biden and Harris.
“When I was a freshman in high school, Trump was elected,” she said. “Now I’m a freshman again, and Biden is elected. It’s just really interesting to me that I’m in these two beginning stages of my life [and] two different presidents coincide with that.”
NOT MY FIRST CHOICE
Not all students voted for Biden or celebrated his win. According to a recent survey by The Bates Student, approximately 6% of the entire Bates community and 5% of students voted for Trump. Luis Orozco ‘23 was one of them.
Orozco, who identifies as Latino, voted red this election because he felt the Republican Party’s platform best aligned with his views — climate change policy being an exception.
“I felt what was really going on behind the scenes — the policy, the groundwork — was really benefiting my community; it was in line with my principles and ideologies in terms of health care, welfare, and police reform,” he said.
He said that he is proud of the progress the Republican Party has made this election with increasing support among men and women in the Latino, Black and LGBTQ+ communities.
Although Biden was not his first choice, Orozco said he is hopeful for the future. He said he understands why Biden was elected and hopes that a moderate president will be able to foster a culture of compromise and bipartisanship within the government.
“Even though Joe Biden wasn’t my choice, I’m still happy with it because I do think he’s going to do great things for the environment, and I think he’s going to be the choice that helps us to move forward…Biden, who tends to come off as a moderate, he kind of fosters the political environment where you don’t always have to vote the way your party wants you to vote, or the way you’re supposed to vote. You can vote the way you actually think,” he said.
THE CLIMATE CRISIS CAN’T WAIT
Cameron Anderson ‘24 believes that climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. Worried about another four years of inaction under the Trump administration, Anderson said he is relieved Biden will soon take office.
“Climate change is such an urgent issue that we don’t have any time to waste on not doing anything,” he said. “I think this has been a decisive election and there’s more of a hope for climate action — although it’s still pretty grim.”
He hopes that Biden will help unite the country and ease tensions between people with different political ideologies.
“I feel like Biden is more of a unified candidate, and I feel like Trump is a very divisive figure,” he said. “I think that with Biden in the White House, presumably, I think that people will be more able to have conversations with people about politics because it’s so hard to have a conversation with someone else about Trump.”
PREMATURE VICTORY SPEECH ‘UTTERLY EMBARRASSING’
Frank Alvarado ‘21 was nervous watching the results of the election come in; he knew from the start this election would be different due to the record number of mail-in ballots.
Alvarado is happy Biden pulled through in the end and is particularly excited to see Harris in the White House. He hopes that they will stand up for BIPOC rights and lead the way for police reform.
“The mobilization that we saw of people voting was really huge,” he said. “It made me really happy because you got to see more people involved in this because it showed that people actually cared about what was going on in this country these previous years, things like Black Lives Matter, all of that, has helped people exercise their rights to vote. I hope it continues to be that way.”
Alvarado said that election week really underlined how unfit Trump is. “Just seeing the way [Trump] managed this week has been utterly embarrassing for the country on the world stage. Specifically, I’m thinking of [election] night,” he said, referring to Trumps’ premature victory speech delivered at 4 a.m. calling for states to “stop the count.”
Alvarado is also concerned by the prevalence of fake information and claims of a “stolen election.”
“There was a lot of misinformation being thrown around, obviously, and I feel like a lot of people owe it to themselves and everybody else to not take things for granted as they see it, they need to do their own research.”
NO FAITH IN THE POLLS
Harry Stevenson ‘24 was shocked that the polls could be so wrong again. In 2016, most polls projected a resounding victory for democratic candidate Secretary Hillary Clinton; instead, Trump won a decisive victory. Again, in 2020, the polls predicted a smooth victory for Biden. And while he picked up some surprise states, including Arizona and Georgia, he won by razor-thin margins in crucial swing states, namely Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Stevenson expected Biden to win because of the polls, but remained cautious. “I was shocked again, I feel like the polls have lost all their validity,” he said. “I just don’t understand how they’re consistently incorrect.”
He pointed to the senate race in Maine as another example. He said that polls tended to give Sara Gideon a slight edge over Susan Collins, however Collins easily won with an eight-point lead.
He thought the election would go smoother, but is happy to finally have some sort of conclusion, even if he isn’t quite sold on Biden yet.
“I think I’m OK with Biden, but I look at the track record he’s had over the past forty plus years, and I really haven’t seen a lot of action in that. Although, I think he’s 100% a better dude than Trump.”
He said he is also worried that Harris’s policies are a bit too “radical.” However, he is willing to give them both a shot.
By DR. LARRY MOSES
No one asked me but… The election of 2020 is an interesting study in contrast. The incumbent candidate Donald Trump has been a government employee for four years. In those four years he has taken no salary and in fact has sacrificed millions of dollars of income to fill the position.
Some of his accomplishments in those four years are as follows: More than 5 million jobs were created under his watch, and the unemployment rate dropped below 4 percent. The unemployment rate for African-Americans fell to 5.9 percent, lowest rate on record. Asian and Hispanic-American unemployment rates reached record lows. The women’s unemployment rate reached its lowest rate in 65 years. Job openings outnumber the unemployed for the first time in American history.
African-American and Hispanic-American poverty rates reached record lows. Manufacturing added 284,000 jobs in 2018, the most added in a year since 1997. More than six million workers received tax cut bonuses and benefits. Legislation was signed that reauthorized the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act making more than $1 billion available for career education programs.
Deregulation efforts have achieved $33 billion in regulatory savings. In 2018, these efforts alone delivered $23 billion in benefits to American families and business owners. A new trade agreement replaced the outdated North American Free Trade Agreement. The United States–Korea Free Trade Agreement was renegotiated to preserve and grow jobs in the American auto industry. Market access for American agricultural producers has expanded. China was held accountable for its unfair trade practices, such as the theft of intellectual property, by imposing tariffs on $250 billion on Chinese goods. The Administration authorized $12 billion to aid farmers affected by retaliatory tariffs.
The United States became a net natural gas exporter for the first time in 60 years. American coal exports increased by more than 60 percent. The Administration approved construction of the stalled Dakota Access pipeline and the cross border permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. Permits were issued for the New Burgos Pipeline to export American petroleum to Mexico. The war on coal ended, cutting regulations such as the “Stream Protection Rule” which was estimated to cost industries $81 million a year.
Americans have more healthcare freedom thanks to legislation that ended the Affordable Health Care’s mandated penalty. The Food and Drug Administration approved a record number of generic drugs. Reforms were implemented as to the amount Medicare will reimburse hospitals for drugs that are purchased under the 340B program, saving seniors $320 million. The “Right to Try” legislation has expanded access to experimental treatments for terminally ill patients. In a world-wide pandemic 99.7 percent of the American people have remain free from the virus. The recovery rate is better than 99.7 percent of those infected. In less than a year a vaccine has been developed that Dr. Fauci indicates is 90 percent effective.
America defunded a United Nations (UN) agency for colluding with China’s brutal program of forced abortion and sterilization. The federal government withdrew constrains on the individual State’s ability to exclude family-planning providers of abortion services from the Medicaid program. Regulations were issued establishing new or expanded exemptions from the ACA contraceptive mandate based on religious beliefs or moral convictions.
Federal Bureau of Investigation data showed a decrease in violent crime. The DOJ announced nearly $100 million in grant funding to hire hundreds of additional law enforcement officers. The DOJ worked with international partners to arrest and charge approximately 4,000 MS-13 members. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations led to the arrest of nearly 800 MS-13 members and associates. Legislation to improve the Federal firearm background check system and keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals was instituted. Customs and Border Protection apprehended 17,256 criminals and 1,019 gang members.
Legislation was signed providing $700 billion for defense in 2018, and $716 billion in 2019. America’s men and women in uniform secured the largest military pay raise in nearly a decade. Due to the new National Security Strategy, the ISIS’ territorial caliphate was defeated. Three of the world’s leading terrorist have been eliminated: Osama Ben Laden, Gen. Soleimani and Abu Mahdi-al-Mohandes.
The remains of POW/MIA service members from the Korean War have been returned to the United States. Jerusalem has been recognized as the capital of Israel and the American embassy has been moved there. The United States has made it clear that it does not accept the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over Americans and will continue to protect America’s sovereignty. America has encouraged NATO members to increase their defense spending. America has enhanced support for Ukraine’s defense by stepping up sales of weapons to its military. This administration secured the release of numerous American citizens held abroad, including Pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkey and Josh Holt from Venezuela.
A record $73.1 billion has been set aside to fund the Department of Veterans Affairs. This funding included $8.6 billion for mental health services, $400 million for opioid abuse prevention and $206 million for suicide prevention. The VA Mission Act, has made it possible for eligible veterans to use walk-in community clinics. The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, streamlined the process used by veterans when appealing benefits claims. The Forever GI Bill provides veterans, service members, and their families with enhanced education benefits.
Donald Trump is a foul mouthed bully who has little respect for anyone other than himself and his family. He disrespects and ridicules anyone who has an idea that is different than his. He has served in privileged positions all his life. His great pleasure in life is firing people.
The accomplishments of his opponent Joe Biden are as follows: He served in the Congress for forty-one years and not a single bit of legislation carries his name. He served as Vice-President, a position Vice-President James Gardner described as “being not worth a bucket of warm spit,” for eight years. He has lived off the taxes of the American people since he was 29 years old and has accumulated a fortune of 15 million dollars while in office. Joe Biden is, however, by all reports “a hail fellow well met.”
America has chosen a nice guy who has accomplished little in his life over a competent bully. So be it. Get over it. Four years from now we will see the results of selecting nice over competent.
Thought of the week… In America, anyone can become president. That’s the problem.
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It’s a little known fact that hundreds of African American soldiers represented Wisconsin in the Civil War. If these individuals are mentioned at all in the history books, it’s usually only briefly. Author Jeff Kannel is out to change that. He joins Live at Four to talk about his new book and the soldiers who inspired it.
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