Don’t let a less than perfect candidate keep you from voting

| Senior Editor

It was November 2016. I went to bed early. After all, it was a school night. I’d just watched my home state go red—South Carolina, so it’s not like that was a surprise. There was still the rest of the country to go. I fell asleep, secure in my certainty of Hillary Clinton’s election to the presidency.

I woke up in the middle of the night. I don’t remember why. My phone screen told me the news—by a narrow margin, Donald Trump had won. “No way. This can’t be happening,” I thought. “I must be dreaming.” When I stumbled out of my room for school the next morning, one look at my mother’s face told me I wasn’t.

Now it’s 2020. Donald Trump is once again on the Republican ticket, but this time, he’s had four years of presidential experience. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the Democratic race on Wednesday morning, leaving only one candidate to face Trump this November—Joe Biden. To say I was disappointed when I heard the news was an understatement. I hadn’t started out as a big Bernie fan. Back in 2016, I’d thought him a little ridiculous. When he started campaigning again in 2019, I thought, “Why?” But the more I watched the debates and looked into candidate platforms, the more I found myself drawn to Bernie. I spent the month of March in a sort of shocked denial—from Super Tuesday on, shaking my head and saying “no, no, no, no” every time more states’ primary results would roll in. Bernie slipped from the front of the pack as formerly mediocre candidate Biden rose with surprising momentum, one he was able to sustain even through the current pandemic.

I’ll be honest here, I’m not Biden’s biggest fan. I don’t think he’s overly personable, and I have ideological differences with him on everything from his less-inclusive Medicare plan to his history of opposing abortion. His debate performances were middling at best and confusing and actively detrimental at worst. The most striking mark against him? Eight women have accused him of sexual assault or harassment.

If you have supported Biden from the beginning, that’s great. But if you’re like me and felt a crushing disappointment when Bernie (or Warren, or Yang, or any of the other multitude of Democratic primary candidates) suspended their bid for the presidency, you need to start supporting Biden right now. You need to show up to vote this November and make sure everyone you know does the same.

Joe Biden is not a great candidate. He’s not even a good one. But he’s what we’ve got. And we need to make sure that the bland mediocrity of his campaign doesn’t make the necessity of voting seem unimportant. Voting this November is crucial. Biden might not be the best, but he is so much better than Trump. It’s a choice between bad and worse: between a man with eight sexual assault accusations and a man with at least 43. Between a centrist approach to immigration policy and border detention facilities many have likened to concentration camps. It’s a terrible choice, but an obvious one.

As we saw in 2016, going to bed early and trusting that others will elect the Democrat doesn’t work. Kicking Trump out of the White House will take all of our votes. I’ve seen Trump be elected against all odds once. I’d rather not do it again.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening at Washington University and beyond.