In Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, I see myself. I see my family. I see my community. I see my country. This may seem like a strange sentiment for a 20-year-old, white, Jewish college student from New York to hold about a late-septuagenarian Roman Catholic grandfather from Wilmington, Del., and a 55-year-old Black, progressive attorney and stepmom-of-two from Oakland, Calif. So, why do I see myself and my experiences in the Democratic ticket? Because these two leaders don’t let their backgrounds define their policies. Young voters of all races, colors and creeds, all ethnicities, income levels and hometowns have a home in their campaign.
“Joe Biden isn’t good, but at least he’s better than Donald Trump,” is an argument all over social media in recent months, and it encourages people to vote for Biden simply to end the current administration. That argument is absurd. It generates no enthusiasm for a candidate who both warrants it and desperately needs it to combat the cult of personality he seeks to defeat. Further, it ignores many of Biden’s key accomplishments, particularly those that pertain to recent national conversations. He championed the Violence Against Women Act, shepherding it through the Senate and to President Bill Clinton’s desk. In the #MeToo Era, a movement led by young Americans, who better to lead our country than a man who’s been on the frontlines of the fight against domestic abuse for 30 years? When he was vice president, the administration instituted a pandemic response apparatus widely considered to be a strength by his campaign. In the middle of a pandemic, he’ll have the experience — and the belief in science and data — to save lives. In a time when children have lost parents and grandparents to a preventable, unnecessarily-political coronavirus crisis, who better to lift us out than Biden?
Biden has experienced firsthand this kind of senseless loss, when his first wife and daughter were killed. He empathizes with the losses our country has felt this year and is uniquely qualified to console our nation and to heal the wounds this pandemic has caused us. His wife, Dr. Jill Biden, is a gifted and universally respected educator, a voice we no doubt need as the debate around how to safely educate young people during a pandemic becomes more politically charged by the minute. As millions of students around the country struggle to pay their tuition as incomes have been decimated by the pandemic, President Donald Trump has pushed for capital gains and payroll tax cuts.
As we struggle to afford the education that will provide for our futures, Republicans have sought to cut benefits for those in need, including a radical restructuring of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and a strong scaling-back of the new virus relief plan. Cutting these benefits will impact thousands of students at our University of Michigan, in an effort to further enrich the already-wealthy, who have thrived off of this crisis while so many others have suffered.
Biden’s work on issues that affect young voters has been overlooked, and it stretches beyond what is plainly obvious. His support for paid family leave, Social Security reform and his belief in climate science, will, if he’s elected, have both immediate and lifelong impacts on our generation. The simplest reason why Joe Biden is the candidate young voters should support is that he cares about us, while Trump cares only for himself and his cronies. This is evident in their personalities, their policies and even their running mates. If Biden “isn’t good,” you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who is.
The running mates in 2020 present microcosms of the campaigns themselves, more so than any election in recent memory. For Gen Z, the choice has never been so stark, the right answer never so blatantly obvious. Biden chose in his running mate a breaker of glass ceilings. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., is a juggernaut for positive change in this country with her policies, such as Medicare for All, education and racial justice, but this election is about ushering in generational change, and that’s Harris’s ethos.
Harris is a daughter of immigrants who grew up in Oakland, Calif. and attended a recently-desegregated, majority-white school via a busing program. Her mother, as Harris said in her convention speech, came to America with a dream of helping others — by helping cure cancer as a cancer researcher. Harris was raised in an environment where she had to constantly go above and beyond simply to receive the same opportunities as her whiter, wealthier and more well-connected peers. She’s not going to fight for tax breaks to the top one percent. She’s going to fight for student loan relief, health care for all people and the racial justice for which our generation has taken to the streets the last few months.
In response to the U.S. outbreak of COVID-19 in February, a Northwestern University journalism professor, Steven Thrasher, who studied Indiana’s outbreak of HIV/AIDS in 2015 and also researched LGBTQ+ health issues, was quoted in an Associated Press article as saying, “Pence’s response as Indiana governor raises real questions about whether he’s the best person to helm the response to the virus.” Thrasher reflected on the time Vice President Mike Pence allowed an HIV/AIDS epidemic to ravage his home state while governor of Indiana. He refused to proactively implement a needle exchange program that would have spared thousands from HIV infection. Pence claims he staunchly believes in the right to life for all people, unless those people do intravenous drugs.
Pence doesn’t merely believe that LGBTQ+ people should be deprived of equal rights under the law (though that is something he does, categorically, believe). He has also espoused the idea that there is something wrong with them and even stated that “Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior” on his archived 2000 congressional campaign website, a statement widely interpreted to be reflective of his support for conversion therapy. Additionally, Pence has claimed that the administration is deserving of praise for its handling of COVID-19, to which more than 180,000 Americans and counting have lost their lives.
Trump and Pence want to gaslight and scare you into selling out your democracy. Biden and Harris want to fight for average Americans to make their lives better. For young people, with our whole lives still ahead of us, there is one excellent choice, and one horrific one. Make the excellent choice. Give our generation a fighting chance to live in a democratic America.
Jack Roshco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.