‘Character is on the Ballot’: Biden Promises Steadfast Action in Turbulent Times

Gabriel Coffey

The Democratic and the Republican parties are equally polarized. Each party has stalwarts in their respective corners of a seemingly righteous and ruthless boxing ring. Some of these members are more entrenched and crazed than others, but nonetheless immobile unless acting in union. 

Factions on each side of the political boxing ring profess a sense of moral absolutism. This is deleterious and can be done away with through proper education and community creation. Yet, what happens when democracy, the very bedrock of United States institutions, is being eroded by one of those factious leaders? What happens when the world’s oldest continuous democracy is under threat? You don’t run to your corner; you coalesce. You fight at the center of the ring, swing forcefully, and scream for good measure.

The 2020 presidential election pits President Donald J. Trump in one corner, and former Vice President Joe Biden in the other. Biden has said that he will accept the election results, while Trump vows to challenge the results if he loses. 

Trump is also engaging in active voter suppression and fear-mongering via a myriad of timely deconstructive policies directed at the United States Postal Service ‒ the chief mechanism for voting during a global pandemic ‒ and unfounded claims about voter fraud. This is targeted; amongst those intending to vote by mail, 80% support Biden over Trump

As a result, if there is a slightly above average rate of rejections due to technicalities compared to past ballot rejection rates, we could see a 0.6% swing in favor of Trump. An underfunded USPS will also hinder delivery times. Thus, defunding the USPS is a clear attempt at disenfranchising voters in a country where Republicans already have a historical advantage with the electoral college as seen in Gore v. Bush election of 2000 and the Clinton v. Trump election of 2016. 

If you just so happen to find yourself disenchanted with democracy and are ok with it running awry, or you are under the guise that Biden is not liberal enough, then let’s consider first the person, and then the policy. 

In Biden’s own words at the Democratic National Convention: “Character is on the ballot. Compassion is on the ballot. Decency, science, democracy. They are all on the ballot.” Biden is right to suggest that he is the antithesis to Trump’s xenophobia and lack of class. Biden has been, for the most part, the epitome of class, as he commuted hours between Delaware and Washington D.C as a junior senator, so as to eat breakfast with his kids and tuck them into bed at night. Biden has also been in public service for half a century. 

During a time of steady economic growth and prosperity, such a person might not make for the best president. Yet, with the United States at a volatile point both socially and economically, it is clear that a steady hand would help to counter the damage brought on by Trump’s nonchalant demeanor and erratic behavior. 

On the other hand, Biden has made some categorically bad decisions. Biden helped to write the 1994 crime law, voted for the war in Iraq, and opposed school integration in the 1970s. These are just some of the things that Biden did that we now see as wrong decisions. Bidens’ decisions aren’t only unacceptable now, but were unacceptable then, as they hurt inmates, veterans, and school kids. Biden himself has been quoted saying that his vote for the war in Iraq “was a mistake,” has apologized for his busing blunder, and laments about authoring a crime bill that simply accepted the status quo. 

Biden also speaks openly about how he grapples with his Catholic faith on issues like abortion, while still supporting Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood. In this way, Biden has a lot to offer a presidential office tainted by lies and deceit. Biden has baggage, and in that way he is a walking relic of U.S history, good and bad. 

Yet, if we see half the picture on an issue, our response will carry half the magnitude. Biden has seen it all, and his initiatives today on issues like student debt and climate are nuanced and comprehensive because he understands the desires of two seemingly entrenched groups. 

Specifically, on the issue of student debt, Biden doesn’t propose the elimination of student debt, but a bracketed system that has you pay back “x” percentage based on how much you earn post-graduation. Such a plan saves billions of dollars, is likely to satisfy centrist Republicans, and drive student debt down. His climate plan is much of the same as it creates jobs in deeply Republican parts of the country that have dealt with structural unemployment, which in turn provides clean energy. 

As we move towards the Nov. 3 election, know this: until the 2016 election, there had only been one occasion where the candidate winning in the polls after Labor Day had lost. There are now two. Many cite low voter turnout among young people, along with an inability to appeal to moderate “Rust Belt” voters, as the reason for Hilary Clinton’s loss. Thus, Biden faces a tall order, as he must appeal to the full spectrum of Democrats. Yet, Biden has learned and his policies reflect this, as they draw from both key moderate and liberal voices. 

All the while Trump professes to have the answer to everything. Trump does not apologize, even when he is complacent in killing hundreds of thousands of Americans. Biden apologizes, adapts, and confesses he does not have the answer to everything. 

In the words of Hemingway, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow [human]; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” Biden has energized his party, not through hate, but through class, character, and good policy. Biden’s career is a testament to the sentiment that two conflicting suppositions are not right or wrong, but share a common truth between them. Let us oust the hate that corrupts this country with malicious lies, and bring to power a president informed by his people, and guided by humility.