Hopkins Reacts to Biden-Harris Win
“No one pretends democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time” -Winston Churchill, November 1947
The battle between incumbent President Donald Trump and former Vice President, now President-elect, Joe Biden in the 2020 Presidential Election was, at the very least, a historic and monumental event for many Americans. As Arts teacher and March for Our Lives Club faculty advisor Peter Ziou sees it, “Biden represented order, Trump represented chaos. This is the classical battle as a metaphor through the history of our world.” But he believes this is not the end: “Reason was the winner in the selection, chaos still wants to take over the battle: this still will go on.”
Was the election outcome a mandate for Biden? History teacher Megan Maxwell responds, “Not even close. The election of 2020 was a referendum on President Trump; he lost.” After carefully observing and studying the data from this election, Model UN head Finn Kiely ’22 agrees: “In congressional districts occupied by very progressive Democrats, Biden consistently outperformed them.” He continues, “In House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s district, Biden got more votes, whereas in districts occupied by moderate Democrats like Abigail Spanberger and Conor Lamb, they usually got more votes than Biden.”
Jewish Culture Club head Evan Migdole ’22 looks at the election results from a different perspective. He believes Biden’s win was indeed a reflection of the candidate and not the current president as “Biden won Georgia and Arizona, which is very rare for a Democrat, and he won the same number of electoral votes as Trump did four years ago.”
In addition to President-elect Biden’s win, the 2020 Presidential Election was also significant for another reason: voter turnout. There are several contributing factors that caused lower voter turnout in previous years. Amnesty International Club head Kian Ahmadi ’24 explains that, “According to the Poor People’s Campaign, the most common reason people give for not voting is that they are ‘disillusioned with their voting prospects,’” meaning “they either don’t like their candidates, aren’t interested, or feel that their vote won’t change things.”
Young Republicans club faculty advisor and History teacher Scott Wich believes political realignment - “where political ideologies are shifting and polarizing, and the political parties are adjusting the policies they support and amplifying the messages that they send to voters in response to those changes” - played a large role in the turnout. According to Wich, a symptom of political realignment is a higher voter turnout, in addition to cultural changes surrounding voting. “National politics, and the presidency in particular, has pervaded every component of and institution within our society, raising the stakes of our politics (‘This is the most important election in history!’) and the social stigma of choosing not to vote.”
Head of School Kai Bynum applauds the younger generation’s activity in this election and sees it as an act of patriotism: “I can only hope that the energy and enthusiasm displayed by the young voters sets the tone for a future generation that ac- knowledges and owns its civic duty in this country.”
March for Our Lives club head Julia Murphy ’23 also praises Generation Z and cites “a Tuft’s poll taken before the election [where] 79% of people ages 18-24 said that Covid-19 helped them realize politics affects their daily lives, and a whopping 83% said they think young people can change the country.”
As to the party affiliations of younger voters, Asian-American Students Association head Jasmine Shah ’21 explains that “Older voters are somewhat more evenly split between Democrat and Republican, whereas younger voters tend to lean more towards Democrats,” to the great benefit of Biden.
With the events of 2020 ranging from protests for racial justice to a worldwide pandemic, the topics people were concerned about in this election were extensive. Model Congress head Christopher Ruano ’22’s emphasizes the importance of political messaging from the White House to the public when addressing issues like the coronavirus. “I’m not sure that a Biden administration would have made a large difference in the pandemic response – although the situation certainly would have been made better with a mask mandate and clear messaging from the White House.”
Young Democrats faculty advisor Gabriela Gerstenfeld also took issue with the Trump administration’s communication throughout the pandemic. In addition to immigration, health care, taxes, and racism, Gerstenfeld’s personal values and the current president’s also played a large factor in her views in this election. “As a Jewish woman, his infamous insight ‘there are good people on both sides’ was extremely hurtful,” she explains. “Moreover, every derogatory term he used against reporters and Congress men and women, was intolerable. The normality of his abnormal behavior has been what matters the most for me.” Jewish Culture Club head Warren Jaffee ’21 wanted “to hear Biden’s thoughts about establishing peace between Israel and Palestine,” but was disappointed when it was not addressed.
The two-party system has become a very controversial topic across the country and to some, less effective. Students Against Xenophobia faculty advisor Daniel Drummond believes, “The two-party system has become so polarized that it feels broken to me.” Drummond argues the only positive part of the two-party system now is “both sides feel so strongly that we have galvanized the vote and moved us away from some of the lethargy of past elections.”
Gerstenfeld brings up how the two-party system was not very popular historically either. “George Washington was against a two-party system for the reasons that are playing out today - setting up for a divided nation.” She elaborates,“I think it continues to hurt our nation and I hope we can develop more diversity moving forward. This is like Harvard vs Yale all the time...or ketchup vs. mustard...it’s just dumb.”
The Electoral College has also been a topic of controversy in the past few election cycles, especially with President Trump losing the popular vote but winning the electoral vote in the 2016 Presidential Election. Maxwell is strongly against it and states “The Electoral College was a corrupt bargain when it was instituted,” as “a vote in Montana or Wyoming is eventually worth more than my vote now and, when I lived in California, New Jersey, or Maryland.”
Students United for Racial Equality head Jasmine Simmons ’21 believes “we’ve moved past a time where the electoral college is needed.” She goes on to explain how the current system has become quite “undemocratic. Under the electoral college, as we’ve seen, a few votes in certain states can determine an election and I don’t think that should be the case."
Wich, on the other hand, sees the electoral college as “fundamental to our republican system of government and the stability of our confederation.” He believes, “The electoral college forces candidates to focus on building support in all areas of the country rather than just a particular region or set of cities, it usually creates more decisive election results and a clearer mandate for the victor, and it retains the stability-producing elements of our republican system of government.”
The Young Democrats and Young Republicans heads could not be contacted for comment.