On August 18, former Vice President Joe Biden officially became the Democratic nominee for President after selecting Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. This historic ticket will face off against President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in what is one of the most bizarre election years yet. America in 2020 is experiencing a pandemic that is rocking the nation, a subsequent economic crisis, and vast civil unrest over racial injustice and police brutality. America is in a time of need. But our options for president are between two old men who exhibit cognitive decline and have major issues surrounding their performances as leaders.
There are glaring flaws with President Trump. Even before COVID-19 and Trump’s weak and ineffective handling of the crisis, he is controversial at his best, and downright unconstitutional at his worst. He mismanaged natural disasters, started trade wars that hurt Americans, faced impeachment by the House of Representatives, and much more. Trump also states many contentious ideas, one example being his relatively recent suggestion to move the date of the election (which is outside the scope of his power). His presidency is riddled with scandals, and by most measures, a disaster. Yet Trump’s base is devoted to him, citing a strong economy before the pandemic and a commitment to putting “America First.” Polls show Trump around five to six percent behind Biden, comparatively similar to where he was in the 2016 election against former Secretary of State and Democratic Party candidate Hilary Clinton. The election is still two months out, with debates and advertising and campaign events still to come, so Trump has time to make up ground. He is also aided by the fact that his opponent has major flaws as well.
Biden has a lot of allure to some voters due to his 40 plus years in Washington, D.C. serving as both a Delaware Senator and Vice President. While many voters value political experience, it does mean that Biden also has a mixed track record. Many issues in our country have Biden’s name on them. Biden’s vote for the Iraq War is one. America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 was based on dubious grounds, and 17 long years later, not much has been accomplished aside from the waste of taxpayer money and American lives. Biden also has a weak record on criminal justice, one of the most important topics during this election. His vote for the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, commonly known as the Crime Bill, stands out. The bill was the beginning of modern mass incarceration in America as well as the dramatic increase of police forces and their powers. Biden’s record is riddled with controversies. But there is still another pressing concern about him.
Biden is 77 right now, which would make him the oldest president (Trump already is the oldest president right now at 74). His age is showing, as he appears to be less mentally sharp. While he has had a stutter for his whole life, some of his recent gaffes cannot be blamed on his speech impediment. Over the course of the summer, Biden said “the Latino community is incredibly diverse, unlike the African-American community” and that “if you can’t figure out if you’re for me or Trump, you ain’t black”. While these statements were obviously inadvertent, it’s troubling that a major candidate for the Presidency of the United States is in cognitive decay. And in the chance that Biden can’t make it through his first term or decides to step down at the end of it, his Vice Presidential nominee, Kamala Harris, is also not without flaw. Like Biden, her record on criminal justice is suspect, with some highlights being her harsh record on marijuana (then laughing when asked if she had ever smoked it) and her decision to threaten parents with prosecution if their kids were truant. Clearly, the Democratic ticket is plagued with issues.
The problem is America doesn’t have other choices. The two-party system is so far entrenched that a third-party candidate hasn’t gotten over five percent of the vote since Ross Perot in 1992. The Green and Libertarian parties, the two largest third-parties, struggle to gain access to the ballot across the country. America deserves better candidates than what we are given by the duopoly. Remember, the lesser of two evils is still evil.