Election 2020: A Nation Divided

With the 2020 U.S. presidential election on the horizon, first-time voters at RUHS must consider which candidate will receive their support

Election 2020: A Nation Divided

Miller settles for former Vice President Joe Biden

In the 2020 election cycle, there were 29 candidates vying for the Democrat presidential candidate nomination. In the end, former Vice President Joe Biden won the nomination and selected California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. 

The 2020 Democratic primaries split loyalties within the party, with Sanders and Warren representing the progressive wing and Biden representing the moderate wing. However, despite not originally backing Biden, many Democrats, like senior Maximillian Miller, have now started to support him after the nomination. 

“I can tell you that he was not my first choice or my second choice. I was hoping that at first, it was going to be Elizabeth Warren, then I hoped it was going to be Bernie, but that didn’t end up panning out. So I got stuck with Biden but honestly, he is creating some policies that, while it’s not everything I that I would like, are still pretty good,” Miller said.  

On Biden’s campaign website, he lists out his plans for solving many issues ranging from systemic racism, COVID-19, healthcare and climate change.  

His plans for addressing climate change are called the Biden Plan for tackling the climate emergency and the Biden plan for Clean Energy future. The plans include ensuring that America achieves net-zero emissions and a 100% clean energy economy by 2050, modifying federal buildings to be more green and requiring more limits on fossil fuel companies. He has also stated that his campaign is not taking money from oil and gas corporations. 

However, many progressives are disappointed with his plan, attacking its weaker stance on climate change compared to the Green New Deal, a legislative package from the House of Representatives that took an aggressive stance against climate change. 

“[The Biden climate change plan] does have a lot of good things that are also a part of the resolution for a Green New Deal, and I think that it can definitely help mitigate the effects of climate change. It could go a bit further, but for the time being it’s a good start,” Miller said. 

A big point where President Trump and Biden have contrasting plans is systemic racism and the epidemic of police brutality across America. Biden’s plan consists of focusing on the prevention of crime and eliminating racial bias in law enforcement by allowing the Department of Justice to investigate police misconduct.

Many of these issues were brought up in the first presidential debate between President Trump and Biden. However, policy did not seem to be the main debate of the night, and the viewers instead got to see the candidates’ morals and principles.

“I think Biden did better than Trump [in the debate], he kept cool under pressure. He didn’t snap back or completely break, especially with all the attacks against his son, which were not okay. I would say that Biden did better than Trump, but it still wasn’t a great debate,” Miller said. 

One of the hot topics from the debate was the controversial nomination and confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court following Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death. Both Biden and Harris are strongly against the proceedings and believe that the American people should be able to choose the person who is making the nomination.  

“When Antonin Scalia died, Republicans said, we are not going to confirm a nominee in an election year. We need the American people to choose who the next president is going to be so they can be the one to choose any judge. So they should be holding themselves to their own standards as it is an election year. But I think it’s good that Biden is disapproving of the Supreme Court pick, especially because [Coney’s] stance on many issues could harm so many Americans,” Miller said. 

One of the reasons the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett is so controversial among the Democratic party is because of the Affordable Care Act. With Judge Barrett approved, the Affordable Care Act could be completely repealed. President Trump has long been an opponent of the Affordable Care Act and has pledged to take more steps to get rid of it as a part of his healthcare plan. However, Trump hasn’t expanded beyond that.

“Biden’s [healthcare] plan is miles better than Trump’s because the Affordable Care Act, while it’s not perfect, still helps so many Americans get healthcare coverage and it protects people with pre-existing conditions, which is really important. I know Biden wants to open up a public option and raise the amount of money you need to be earning to be able to apply for Medicaid. I think that’s really great, of course I wish it went further, but I still think it’s a good start,” Miller said.

One of the main things that Miller hopes that Biden will achieve if he is elected in 2020 is reducing the divisive nature of politics that has absorbed the nation since the 2016 election. 

“I’d like to see them make things less chaotic in American politics because that’s something that I don’t have a fun time with. I would like to see them work toward doing more progressive things in their administration,” Miller said. 

Though he hopes for a less divisive era post-2020 election, Miller isn’t extremely optimistic about the chances of that happening. 

“I hope things will get better because we’re going to have a less divisive president, but I still feel like things are going to end up being bad. That is probably stemming from the fact that we have a two-party system where it’s either you’re this or you’re that. I’m guessing there will probably be more violent acts because of politics and that’s not something that we want to happen. But, I just feel like this divisive era of politics is not going to stop until we do not have just two parties,” Miller said. 

Though Miller is against the divisive nature of politics, he is still strongly against President Trump and his actions. 

“I support people’s right to support the person that they want. I am really not a fan of the person they’re supporting because Donald Trump is on my list of presidents I can’t stand. […] Trump has done just so many terrible things for this country and I still don’t understand how people could support him with all of the racism, misogyny, and bigotry that he has spewed from his mouth and keyboard,” Miller said. 

Though Miller supports Biden because of his opposition to Trump, he still supports him as a politician. 

“Partially because he’s not Trump, but also because he is actually likeable.” Miller said “Like I’ve seen some of his ads on Twitter and some of his videos and he, pardon the pun, is more like an average Joe. I feel like that is more appealing than a reality TV show host who complains a lot.”

Dorn votes for President Trump despite facing backlash from friends

As a straight White Republican male who voted for Donald Trump, senior John Dorn has trouble escaping stereotypes. But if there’s anything he wants others to know before judging him, it is that there is more to him than meets the eye.

“If you call yourself a Trump supporter, there are all these labels that come along with it. People say I’m racist or I’m anti-LGBTQ, which I’m not,” Dorn said. “I support [Trump’s] ideas and I submitted my ballot, but there are still some ideas of Trump’s where I don’t agree with how he executed them.”

Because of the stigma surrounding the term “Trump supporter,” coupled with the fact that Dorn diverges from Trump’s beliefs in a number of ways, he avoids the label entirely. However, Dorn believes that Trump has accomplished a multitude of feats during his presidency that are often overlooked by Americans and the media. 

“Trump is an easy target for most people. [Overlooking accomplishments] happens to most political leaders but him especially due to his history,” Dorn said. “It frustrates me because it only makes things worse in the country when the good that he does isn’t seen.” 

Dorn approved of many of Trump’s accomplishments during his presidency, including reaching record low Black and Hispanic unemployment rates of 6.8 percent and 4.9 percent respectively before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the National Public Radio (NPR). Additionally, Trump signed the First Step Act into law in 2018, which sought to reduce the size of the federal prison population by implementing programs to reduce recidivism, the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend. Reforms like these that are occurring in the White House now make Dorn believe more in Trump’s ability to make change, rather than his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden.

“I like seeing things being done. Biden has been a politician for 47 years, and we’re still trying to fix things from the 47 years he’s been in office. It’s like in running for president, he’s trying to fix his own mess,” Dorn said. “If he had all of these great ideas now, why wasn’t Obama implementing them?”

As for Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, a response that has the country thoroughly divided, Dorn generally approves of Trump’s response. Although he recognizes Trump initially downplaying the coronavirus as a “fault” of the president, he also believes that Trump made decisions regarding the virus that other leaders may not have. 

“He closed down the borders to China immediately, and Joe Biden called him racist and xenophobic. But Dr. Fauci said later that that action has ‘gone a long way’ to save American lives,” Dorn said. “Still, I think [downplaying the virus] is a fault for sure. Masks don’t hurt. If he had not scared the country but still said, ‘Hey everyone, wear a damn mask,’ I think things could have been different.”

Despite his recognition of Trump’s mistakes in handling the pandemic, Dorn doubts Biden’s ability to handle the pandemic any better. In the 2009-2010 H1N1 swine flu outbreak, Biden and Obama’s response was “unsatisfactory,” according to Dorn. During the swine flu pandemic, the Center for Disease Control estimates that there were 60.8 million U.S. cases, which dwarfs our current 9 million (and counting) coronavirus cases. The mortality rate for coronavirus, however, is significantly higher. 

“There was swine flu, which 60 million people contracted when Joe Biden was big and tall,” Dorn said. “His health experts have said, ‘We did every possible thing wrong. It just had to do with luck.’ So if Joe Biden is going to come in and save the day with coronavirus, what happened with swine flu?” 

To provide a platform by which he can share these ideas, Dorn created a podcast in June 2020 called “Now Hear Me Out.” Out of the four full episodes released thus far, Dorn received the most backlash for his Black Lives Matter (BLM) episode. In the episode, he urged protestors to keep politics out of Black Lives Matter, believing it to undermine the cause. He also questioned whether the BLM movement supports all Black lives. 

“A lot of [BLM supporters] don’t care about Black conservatives or what they have to say, they don’t care about Black police officers or Black business owners,” Dorn said. “The whole thing should be about how all Black lives matter, because they do.”

In spite of this criticism, Dorn praised BLM for “raising a lot more awareness” and allowing him to “think differently.” While Dorn condemns rioters and looters associated with BLM, he believes that the extent of the rioting and looting has been exaggerated by some conservatives. 

“While a lot of [rioters and looters] are part of the movement, a lot of them aren’t, which a lot of people fail to see. A lot of the protests are peaceful. Some of them are not. But it’s such a fraction compared to the large amount, so it sucks that it’s all being labeled as that, as rioting and looting,” Dorn said. 

However, another way Dorn differs from the Democratic Party is his approach to police reform. Not only is he “100 percent against defunding the police,” he also criticized Senate Democrats for blocking the JUSTICE Act, a police reform bill led by Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, in June 2020. Democrats such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey opposed the bill, which sought to improve reporting on “no-knock” warrants, fund police departments to incentivize the adoption of a chokehold ban and make lynching a federal crime, arguing that the bill did not go far enough in its policing reforms. 

“There was legislation created to reform the police, and Democrats shut it down because it apparently wasn’t enough. But you can’t go from where we are now, with funding the police, to majorly defunding the police because that’s going to leave so much room for error,” Dorn said. “I think that [the bill] needed to be passed because that reform could have gone further gradually.”

After his peers learned of his conservative ideals through his podcast, Dorn recalls receiving “hate and backlash” from people who assumed he was pro-life, anti-Black Lives Matter or racist. Although Dorn expected some criticism due to how liberal RUHS is, he did not expect that the backlash would be so intense. 

“I always told myself going into it, ‘You’re going to get a lot of criticism, you’re going to get a lot of feedback. You are you, they are them.’ But when I tell you it was overwhelming, it really was overwhelming,” Dorn said. “Some of my closest, closest friends turned, without asking any questions, without asking for any further details. I wish they would, but I can’t control them, so I took a break from the podcast. Now I’m back and I’ll be making more.”

Dorn spent the first 10 years of his life living in Scottsdale, Ariz. Although Scottsdale is more dominated by Republicans than Redondo Beach is, Dorn believes he grew into his conservative beliefs through “navigating politics on [his] own,” rather than letting his family or upbringing sway him. Noting the reactions to his beliefs in the past, Dorn encourages people to talk to him about his views, thus allowing him to either explain his beliefs to others or have his beliefs be challenged, rather than let his peers make faulty assumptions.

“I’m not this terrible evil guy who just wants Donald Trump to rule the world,” Dorn said. “I wish people would understand that for things to come together, you need both sides. In my next podcast episode, that’s one of the first things I’m going to say: If you have any questions about anything I believe in, here’s my social media page. Come ask me.”