What’s At Stake, Part One

In a three-part series, the editorial staff of Across The Margin examines exactly what is at stake in the pivotal 2020 United States Presidential Election…

Undoubtedly, the United States 2020 presidential election has risen to become the most important election in modern American history. It is not hyperbole to make this declaration, especially in contemplation of the current state of the country, or upon reflection of the Trump administration’s three and a half years of blunders, lies, incompetence, and deep-seated corruption. It goes without saying that the current political, societal, and economic climate in the United States finds the country as divided as ever and what is at stake, for the country, and for the entire planet, is enormous. In consideration of these divisions, and the fallout from their occurrence, it seems only apropos to take a closer look at several of the key issues in play. 

Climate Change & The Environment

The majority of Americans, and a growing swath of the world, understand the fact that Climate Change is here and that the time to act is forthwith. In the U.S., currently two thirds of the population have come around to this notion and the belief that the Climate Crisis must be addressed without delay. A simplistic approach to understanding what is at stake in the coming years for this complex issue in the U.S. is the fact that one candidate, President Donald J. Trump, touts Climate Change as a hoax, while the other, former Vice President Joe Biden, acknowledges the severity of the issue. The fact of the matter is, anybody who has found 2020 so far to be a distressing year, be careful spending too much time poring over official climate reports or listening to the news, because 2021 and beyond are poised to make 2020 look like a walk in the park. 

A growing portion of the anguish and unpredictability that has come to define this distressing year has, at its root blame, Climate Change. From intense fires ravaging the U.S. West Coast, to a prolonged hurricane season that has caused the World Meteorological Organization to run out of letters of the alphabet to name storms, to unfathomably severe heat waves and the warmest summer on record for the Northern Hemisphere and beyond, things are definitely getting profoundly and rapidly worse for the planet. For some time now, Climate Change has seemed to be a threat waiting in the wings, far enough off to not become terror-stricken over but close enough to occasionally warrant thought. We have time to figure things out, we reasoned. However, this mindset has been utterly refuted, as the effects of Climate Change are here and devastating in their impact. The time to act is now, and swiftly, as Climate Change has presently become a “threat multiplier,” where, as Climate Journalist Mary Annaïse Heglar notes in Rolling Stone, “everywhere you look there’s some calamity wrapped in a tragedy inside an injustice — like nesting dolls.”

While Biden’s refusal, in the face of this pressing crisis, to embrace The Green New Deal is whole-heartedly distressing, and his continued support of the tremendously problematic practice of fracking is disconcerting, it is important to note that the Biden/Harris ticket has proposed a 2 trillion dollar Climate plan, one that was crafted with the help of progressive heroes such as Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and representatives from the Sunrise Movement. While climate scientists, activists, and journalists agree this plan is far from perfect, it is a welcome start. With Biden as president, the country and planet at least have a shot at reducing the devastating impact of Climate Change on generations to come. If Trump wins re-election, it’s certainly a further step closer to game over for humanity.

The Coronavirus Pandemic & Safety

By the time this article was published, 213,500 Americans have died from the Coronavirus. Comprising only four percent of the world’s 7.8 billion people, the U.S. sadly has twenty-five percent of its Coronavirus cases. These numbers are not only hard for a person to get their head around, they should be unacceptable for citizens of a world-leading country as technologically and scientifically advanced as the U.S. President Trump’s dishonesty during this pandemic has been jaw-droppingly irresponsible, and because of his administration’s ineptitude, tens of thousands of lives have been unnecessarily lost. A recent study by Cornell University, analyzing 38 million English-language articles concerning the pandemic, revealed that the president was the single largest driver of misinformation around Covid-19. Little is more obvious than the fact that clear and accurate information is absolutely essential for the successful response to a viral outbreak of an infectious disease, and, according to Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a vice dean at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a former principal deputy commissioner at the Food and Drug Administration, “misinformation around the pandemic is one of the major reasons” the U.S. is not faring as well as other countries in fighting the pandemic. 

If we cannot trust President Trump — and it is apparent we decidedly cannot — during an emergency of global scale, then it is clearly time for a change. Not only has he not guided us through these trying times with clarity, purpose, and with science as the guiding light for his decisions, he has compounded the situation by making things worse through his inactions, distractions, falsehoods, and delays. Furthermore, Trump’s testing positive for Coronavirus is entirely telling of his inability to manage this virus for the country, because of the simple fact that even with the limitless means the office of presidency has to offer, he was unable or unwilling to protect himself and those that work for him from its deleterious effects. 

To add insult to injury, on October 5th Trump thoughtlessly tweeted “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” which for many people has come off as a distasteful smack in the face of all those who have been lost, all the families who are grieving, and all those that will succumb to this deadly virus in the months, if not years, to come. For the vast majority of Americans the high-level of medical care he received in response to his Coronavirus infection is simply unattainable, and Trump’s self-serving and narrow-minded response to his experience with the virus only goes to further illuminate just how out of touch he is with the people. President Trump has failed America in his dealings with the pandemic, and he and those sycophants who have supported and enabled him should lose their jobs because of it.

Election Integrity

Fair and free elections are a cornerstone of a healthy Democracy. Expanding the electorate and making sure everyone has the right and ability to vote should be the goal of any and all that champion Democracy and yearn for a country where the will and voice of the people is heard. Inclusion and effective participation of a country’s peoples in deciding the future path of their nation should be promoted at every turn. Unfortunately, the GOP in the U.S. appears hellbent on suppressing voter turnout, making voter suppression a fundamental component of their 2020 electoral strategy. From recruiting tens of thousands of “poll watchers” charged with challenging ballots and voters that they have deemed “suspicious” (translation: black voters) to setting aside millions in funds to litigate against voters rights advocates who are trying to loosen voting restrictions in reaction to the Coronavirus pandemic to making voting as difficult and inconvenient as possible via voter ID laws and voter roll purges, one gets the sense that the idea of “free and fair” as it pertains to democracy is not in the GOP’s vocabulary. The more apropos phrase would seem to be “unjust and unavailable.” 

For instance, it was recently announced Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott will be limiting counties to only one location for collecting completed mail ballots under the guise of enhancing “ballot security protocol” and ensuring Coronavirus safety measures. Throughout the country we are witnessing the silencing of disproportionately Black voters from exercising their fundamental right to vote as is occurring in Florida, where modern day poll taxes are alive and well, and we see the 4th Amendment aggressively under attack. 

On top of this, President Trump himself, in bold contradiction to the FBI and leading members of his own party, continues to spread unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about the integrity of mail in ballots. Partner this with the installation of Trump loyalist Louis DeJoy to head and control the United States Postal Service, a man with no prior postal experience, at a time when mail-in balloting is estimated to see unprecedented participation, and the wide-ranging Republican agenda of disenfranchising and disrupting voters becomes clear.  

It has been proven time and again that rampant voter fraud is a myth. Instances of this supposed widespread fraud are extremely rare across decades and decades of research gleaned from official voter data. The tragic truth is, the less certain sections of the populace vote, the greater the opportunities for conservatives and the GOP to win elections are, and this thinking is something the current party in power has seized upon aggressively to provide its “win” in 2020. These forms of voter suppression and intimidation are entirely troubling, as persistent voter suppression will inevitably lead to the death of Democracy. If continued to be left unchecked, President Trump, his administration, and the GOP will surely continue to erode one of the cornerstones on which our system of government has been built, sadly choosing power over the rights of the people.

Looking forward towards an election only weeks away, fears are appropriately growing that there could be unprecedented intimidation at the polls, and endless litigation as Republican-held states contest their ballot counts if things don’t go President Trump’s way — actions that have been encouraged by the president himself. With a new, conservative Supreme Court justice poised to be put in place weeks before a presidential election result that might be determined by the court itself, and murmurs of Republican-lead state legislatures bypassing the will of the popular vote and choosing their own pro-Trump electors, the efforts by the GOP to undermine the “fair and free” nature of elections has never been more grossly apparent. Georgetown School of Law has created fact sheets for every state concerning what to do if there are armed people (militia, unauthorized militia, LARP’ers, whatever) at polling stations on election day, and the laws and protections in play for that state. Four years ago we never considered that we would come upon, or feel the need to share, this sort of information, but this is the reality of life under the Trump Administration. 

What’s At Stake, Part Two — Coming Soon….

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