Sean McDonald is a political science junior and Mustang News columnist. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
Avon Barksdale, an early centerpiece for the HBO series The Wire, once famously mused that in regards to prison, there are only two days that you actually serve: the day you go in, and the day you come out.
Such, I think, will be the feeling come the elections in November, assuming they are held in the normal fashion. The objective lack of professionalism and disastrous track record of both foreign and domestic decisions within the Trump Administration will and should be dwelling at the forefront of every voter’s mind when they head to the polls, regardless of party affiliation.
It is now clear that Biden, barring any dramatic turns within the inner workings of the Democratic Party, will be the nominee for the Democrats, and Trump for the Republicans. In yet another election slated to be the hopeful and diverse one, we are left with Trump and Pence, 73 and 60 years old, respectively, and Biden, 77, who is yet to decide on his running mate.
It is a situation that is all too familiar in American politics: the rising tide of progressivism pitted against the establishment. In the early stages of the primary, it looked as if Bernie Sanders, with sustained momentum and voter turnout, could cross — or at least get close to — the 1,991 delegate count needed to gain the nomination outright.
But as the days droned on and primaries were conducted across the country, the steady flow of moderate democrats to the polls chipped away at the progressive foundation Sanders had worked over two campaigns to build. The clear image of the future that many young voters held onto was seemingly whisked away in a matter of weeks. Now, with the Democratic/Republican Conventions lined up for the summer (coronavirus progression pending), Biden and Trump will battle through the fall until November.
For many, there is a certain air of disappointment that lingers, a feeling of betrayal or robbery by one’s own party, a sellout, a settlement, an unimpressive conclusion to a campaign season full of hope and promise.
But, it is only characteristic for things to end up this way; it is the norm of American politics, that wars of diplomacy and legislation are not won with pendulum-swinging radical change, but with a slow, incremental crawl toward a destination we are unsure we can see clearly.
In the end, America was incapable of escaping its own past and landed itself in a situation that feels hauntingly similar to the election in 2016. It is no coincidence that George Bush was elected in 1988, and his son in 2000. Nor that Clinton, after winning in 1992, saw his wife take the stage in 2016. And now, we see Biden, a former vice president, taking the reins for the Democrats. It is perhaps abstractly reassuring, in that his lifelong familiarity with politics is something in which to find comfort — but it is also somewhat disconcerting that the Democratic Party seems more like an enclave at times than an open meritocratic portal, a smoke-filled room from which candidates seem to be produced or manufactured rather than grown.
Thoughts like this only hold so much utility, however; at a certain point they do more harm than good, and they lend themselves to anti-intellectual echo chambers and a purposeless infinity of tweets. Social media revealed pent-up nastiness and hate from both the Biden and the Sanders campaigns, and for incumbent Republicans standing on the sidelines watching, nothing could be better.
The Sanders Campaign was promising, more so than in 2016, as he showed capable financial support as well as an obvious embrace of a youth-driven ethos centered on economic inequality and its (many) related problems. Biden, for many, seemed to lack something in the debates and on the campaign trail, but people slowly welcomed his familiarity and professionalism in the latter stages, which ultimately was Sanders’ demise. It wasn’t so much that Biden changed on anyone or anything, it’s that he had the support all along.
Sanders, unfortunately, was never going to win; the distrust and speculation surrounding him and his polarizing presence in the media were always too substantial, whereas Biden had played his cards right, played them as a moderate. Bernie was policy-centric, ideologically pure and a maverick type figure; Biden was pragmatic, moderate and thus more political.
It is a hard pill to swallow for Sanders supporters, that is beyond doubt. But with the climate of resentment and hate that seems so characteristic of the times, we almost forget it is wrong. We must do ourselves a favor and make the right decision, even if it is a sacrifice of sorts.
Compromise is emblematic of politics and democracy, and voting for Biden may not sit well with many people, but those who truly wish to see progress and the restoration of decency to America can surely see that Biden provides a better path than Trump.
So, while putting the pen to his name at the ballots may carry the pain and resentment associated with the campaign and primary, not doing so is just as bad as casting a vote for Trump.
We live in interesting and dangerous times. You hardly need to listen to the news to recognize that. Trump has shown time and time again that data, facts and reality do not matter to him simply because he has the stage and audience that will believe him when he says they aren’t real.
That is not America. That is not the world we want to grow up in and raise children in, because it is backward, simpleminded, regressive, unanalytical, unhumanitarian and hateful. Trust me, there is no erudite quality to Trump or his confidantes. They aren’t in it for the everyman, and the populist wave he is riding is taking him to a private beach on a corporate island, not to a street filled with people.
If anything, the last 20 years show that America is becoming less defined by compromise and collaboration. Maybe that is how we ended up with Trump.
Yet now, like any time, is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to abandon anger, resentment, distrust and all the things that have confused and befuddled and left so many Americans verklempt over the past four years and to, at the very least, vote for what you know to be right. Perhaps that can begin a healing process that seems long overdue for so many people in so many different places.
When considering the candidates, those are things worth thinking about. With any candidate, there are highs and lows. There are two days: the day you go in and the day you go out.