A friend recently told me that if Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) didn’t win the primary, they’d rather sit out of the election than vote for former Vice President Joe Biden. Personally, I’ve criticized Biden for his poor voting record and endorsed Sanders as the best poised candidate to lead our nation and defeat President Donald Trump. In the aftermath of Biden’s striking gains on Super Tuesday and following successes in other states, I’m forced to recognize that I might have to support a different candidate in the general election than I have been in the primaries. And that’s okay.
Biden and Sanders indubitably have their differences. Biden represents nostalgia for the Obama era and unity among the Democrats, while Sanders represents a new wave of sharp, progressive change. Despite Biden and Sanders’ starkly different platforms and personalities, we must all rally behind the eventual Democratic nominee if we want to defeat Trump and reverse the tremendous harm he’s done to our nation.
Unlike Trump, both Biden and Sanders are dedicated to combating a wide array of issues: most notably climate change. Trump withdrew from the Paris Agreement in 2017, and, considering that the U.S. ranks among the highest for levels of global carbon emissions, this was a disastrous move that undercut global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have already begun to witness the effects of climate change, and without drastic measures, coastal flooding, forest fires and other natural disasters will become a normality. Both Biden and Sanders have affirmed the necessity to rejoin the Paris Agreement and have developed individual plans to halt climate change. Whether Biden or Sanders, we must elect a Democratic president if we want to see real, sweeping reform addressing climate change.
Trump’s inhumane treatment of immigrants further exemplifies the dire need to vote him out of office. Under Trump’s administration, detention camps have violated basic human rights by actions such as separating children from their parents and placing children in unsanitary conditions. Regardless of their respective views on immigration, both Biden and Sanders encompass humanity in their proposals regarding the treatment of immigrants. Both believe that undocumented immigrants deserve the basic right to be covered under a government-run health care plan, meaning that no person should lack basic care when facing health issues. Additionally, Trump reduced the number of refugees the U.S. welcomes from 110,000 in 2017 under the Obama administration to a mere 30,000. Biden and Sanders support accepting at least 110,000 refugees a year, an act that embodies humane values. Trump’s clear lack of humanity in this regard further shows that we need a change in our presidency this year.
The benefits of a Biden or Sanders presidency do not end there: both currently support a woman’s right to an abortion and support gun control measures to ensure tragedies like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting or the 2017 Las Vegas shooting never happen again. Both would do infinitely better as our leader than Trump. No voter will fully agree with Biden’s or Sanders’ record and views, but acknowledging that either would do better than Trump is a vital first step.
Third-party candidates do not stand a chance at winning this election, and voting for one would only serve to enable Trump’s re-election. No third-party candidate has ever come close to winning the presidency, and the 2020 election will certainly not be a first. Voting for a third-party candidate could impair the Democratic nominee’s chances at the election. In the 2016 presidential election, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson received 4.5 million votes, just over 3% of the popular vote, hurting Clinton’s chances at winning the general election. Voters, do not waste your ballots by voting for a third-party candidate or sitting out this election. There is too much at stake in the 2020 election to sit out, and we must replace apathy and pessimism with drive and perseverance to defeat Trump.
Regardless of the primary outcomes, I vow to campaign tirelessly and cast my ballot in support of the Democratic candidate, whoever it may be. I will play my part to ensure that Trump is not re-elected. I will not sit this election out. Emory voters, Democrats and opponents of Trump — I hope you’ll do the same.
Brammhi Balarajan (23C) is from Las Vegas.