I did not expect or want Bernie Sanders to drop out. I had anticipated voting for him in the general election. Until only a few short weeks ago, it seemed that Sanders would indeed be going head-to-head with our sitting President.
That reality will never come to pass. There is now only one decision that must be made by November, and it is to vote for Joe Biden. For all his weaknesses, he is the candidate we must unite behind, not for the man he is, but for the government he would represent. The outcome of November’s election will have major implications for our Supreme Court, our policies towards climate change, and our standing as a nation.
Over the past four years, our President’s actions have been hilariously incompetent — in 2019, he used a Sharpie to fabricate the path of Hurricane Dorian, repeatedly insisting that it would impact Alabama despite national weather authorities clearly disagreeing. Trump’s actions have also been criminal. Despite committing at least five felony instances of obstruction of justice and being impeached, he has continually denied any wrongdoing and brazenly branded anything spoken against him as “fake news.”
But the longest lasting consequences of this presidency are far more toxic, and they endanger our nation. Last summer, he told four of our own elected officials to “go back” to the countries they came from — three of them were born in the United States, and all four are citizens. This is only one incident in a long line of actions that have fueled xenophobia and racism. In 2017, he refused to condemn the gathering of Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. And in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, his administration failed to support the people of Puerto Rico. In a jarring contrast, a month earlier he had sent three times as many federal workers and 23 times as much money to Houston after Hurricane Harvey, which caused 107 deaths. Over 3,000 people died due to Hurricane Maria.
Trump has not only repeatedly blamed people who look different — he has also trivialized their lives. In doing so, he has upended the notion that America is a place for all.
The current COVID-19 crisis has only seen a continuation of Trump’s behavior. He has made himself the butt of more jokes by saying that the population of Seoul is 38 million — a number he seemingly obtained from its elevation of 38 meters; the city’s actual population is 10 million. But he has also been slow to respond, with his administration ineffective as it watched America become the nation with the most coronavirus cases in the world. He has successfully diverted blame to the Chinese, seeing hate crimes against Asian Americans rising while preserving his own approval rating.
This crisis will end, but it will not be the last. The COVID epidemic has exposed actions dating back to 2018, when Trump eliminated the National Security Council’s pandemic-response office. And that’s the scary part: Trump’s actions may not have consequences until years later. He has rolled back safety regulations on offshore drilling that were put in place after the BP explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. He has undone Obama-era policies to fight climate change and stripped the Environmental Protection Agency of much of its power. There is no doubt that climate change is capable of inciting crises that would put our current one to shame. It is the biggest issue facing our generation today, and Trump does not believe in it.
Bernie Sanders has repeatedly said that, if the time came, he would support Joe Biden. With many states now postponing primaries due to coronavirus, an outcome to the Democratic primary may have been significantly delayed, leaving less time for the nominee to gain traction ahead of the November elections. By suspending his campaign, Sanders is signaling that 2020 is larger than any one candidate. The outcome of this election will have long-lasting implications for the complexion of our nation, and it is imperative that we act. For some of us, that will mean campaigning and donating. But for most of us, the responsibility is sole and simple, and that is to vote for Joe Biden.
It is not only your duty as an American, but also your duty to the future.
Richard Ma is a sophomore from Kirksville, Miss. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.