With election results fast approaching, the consensus on who will be our nation’s new president remains unclear. In previous elections, there always seemed to be a clear popular choice amongst voters, but given the results of the 2016 election (in which Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the presidency), people can never be too sure.
Though Biden appears to currently have a lead in many polls, the American people will not know for certain who has won until after Nov. 3. Given the complications of mass mail-in voting, many are skeptical as to whether we will know who has won the election on the actual day. It is predicted that roughly 80 million people will be voting by mail compared to 25 million in 2016. Given that Republicans are more likely to vote on the actual election day regardless of the pandemic, any pre-election numbers have little value.
We took to social media to see what Blake students were thinking. The results from The Blake Beat’s Instagram poll show Biden to be the preferred candidate with 104 out of 105 total votes. Following this, I interviewed several students about their views on key issues in the 2020 election: COVID-19, LGBTQ+ rights, and healthcare. In full disclosure, Montgomery County, Maryland is a liberal stronghold, so Blake students’ views are most likely not representative of the whole country.
COVID-19 – Freshman Nate Lara
How do you think the US government handled the pandemic?
“I do not think that the US government handled this pandemic well. I think that they did the bare minimum to stop it.” Lara continued to say that the government should have provided a national mask mandate along with more funding towards contact tracing and schools, restaurants, and businesses so that they could reopen safely.
Lara also wished there had been more consistency in the information provided. “The CDC, the White House, and many doctors are all contradicting each other,” he adds. “Half the country doesn’t believe that masks work, or even that the virus is real.”
Out of the two candidates, who do you believe has the better plan for helping the country during COVID-19? Why?
“I believe that Joe Biden has a better plan to combat the virus,” Lara says. “Biden trusts scientists, analyzes data, and believes in providing additional funding to schools and businesses to reopen.”
“Trump,” Lara says, “believes the virus to be over, and who is willing to reopen businesses and the economy without the proper safety measures.”
Do you believe the country should go back into lockdown? Consider that it could save many lives, but it could also do major damage to the economy, thus harming others.
“Human lives are always more important than the economy,” Lara says, but he believes a national lockdown is unnecessary. “I think smaller regional lockdowns, mask mandates, and other safety precautions would work better.”
He trusts that these types of precautions allow for measures to be taken on a local level so that they won’t affect areas that are not spiking. This would allow for less stricken areas to reopen, and those that are seeing spikes to be dealt with accordingly to prevent the spread in Lara’s view. Ultimately, however, Lara places his faith in the country’s top medical officials. “If the top scientists and doctors said a lockdown was necessary, I would follow their advice.”
Healthcare Access – Senior Abigail Aronne
Do you believe healthcare should be considered a human right? Why or why not?
“Healthcare should be a human right because not everyone is fortunate enough to have the ridiculous amounts of money needed to pay for healthcare. It’s not our fault if our arm breaks or someone gets sick,” Aronne says. The average ER visit cost $1,389 in 2017, a price close to a month’s rent for many Americans. Being forced to choose between having a place to live or paying for an injury may seem insane to some, but that is a reality for many people, and one which, according to Aronne, is never okay.
How does privilege play a role in someone’s views on the cost of healthcare?
“Privilege plays a huge role in someone’s view of healthcare because when you’re privileged it’s so easy to just think about yourself,” Aronne says. She followed this by mentioning the bubble of privilege and how it has a way of sheltering the privileged from the real world. When you are used to having certain things given to you, it’s hard to think of a life without them.
Who would you vote for if you could vote in this election?
“I sadly cannot vote in this election, but I would vote for Biden if I could,” Aronne says. “People need to vote because every vote counts. People’s voices need to be heard and they have not been recently.”
LGBTQ+ – Senior Skylar Mansfield
Both candidates claim to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. Do you feel that this has been shown in each of their actions?
“Vice President Mike Pence has a long record of anti-LGBTQ lawmaking,” Mansfield says. She continued to say that a second term of Trump in office could turn the clock back for LGBTQ+ people in terms of the rights they have been given. Mansfield followed this by citing how Trump took action against several LGBTQ+ groups in 2017. Trump banned transgender people from the military and took actions to limit gay rights in several areas including allowing lobbying for religion-based adoption agencies to refuse same-sex couples, and the administration’s attempts to undo parts of the Affordable Care Act’s LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections.
Mansfield finished by acknowledging that she was still not entirely certain about Biden. “He has said some questionable things in the past…some decades ago that we won’t forget, but we accept growth [in character].”
How do you feel about Amy Barrett entering the Supreme Court, and its implications for the LGBTQ+ citizens of the United States?
“As a bisexual woman, I am not going to lie. I am scared,” Mansfield says. “Amy Coney Barrett is really going to affect LGBTQIA+ rights immensely, as Justice Barrett has made several comments that are against the community.” The Supreme Court has always played a huge role in the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights, as its rulings are what gave same-sex couples the right to marriage, and more recently, the protection of transgender and queer people from employment discrimination. With the addition of Justice Barrett, conservatives have a majority in the Supreme court. As a result, many are fearful that LGBTQ+ rights will be limited.
Moral Integrity – Senior Brendan Kapfer
I began each interview by asking students what traits they would like to see in a candidate, the responses were all decently similar: “open and honest,” “understanding,” “trust-worthy.”
Kapfer says, “I need a president I feel like I can trust, who has my best interests at heart. If I can’t trust you, then you can’t be my president.” He mentioned that neither candidate was perfect, and mentioned they had both been involved in scandals. “People need to be paying attention and listening to trustworthy sources so they are hearing accurate information. If you aren’t informed, you can’t really make a good choice.”
“Put some thought into who you vote for,” Kapfer concludes. “It’s a privilege to get to vote that not every country has, that not everyone is old enough to use. I missed the age cut off by only three months, but if I could vote I would have voted for Biden.”
It is of utmost importance that everyone who can vote does, because every vote matters. This election will have a huge impact on our lives and futures, so it is crucial that we are all paying attention and participating in democracy.