Politics | November 2nd, 2020
Biden-Harris Ticket Isn’t Above Reproach For Gen Z
By: Kailyn Rhone
As the 2020 presidential election is less than 24 hours away, college students nationwide have been facing an unordinary fall semester. In the midst of COVID-19, students have created a new era of activism with the Black Lives Matter movement, been forced into an economic recession and grappled with drastically changing everyday lives as the nation leads into an election that could determine the rest of their future.
According to College Pulse, the majority of college students plan to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden over the current President Donald Trump. Although numerous college students publicly show their support in voting for the Democratic ticket, many of those same voters remain skeptical of the administration’s plans due to Biden and Kamala Harris’ political history.
Ten college students across the nation share their thoughts on the Democratic ticket and explain how the two candidates’ history makes them question their future plans if elected.
Biden’s stance on 1994 crime law
One of the most controversial criminal justice laws was passed 26 years ago by 42nd President Bill Clinton — and was championed by then-senator Biden. As an attempt to decrease crime, the 1994 crime law increased incarceration, which many say led to an increase in prison cells, prison sentences, and violent policing which significantly hurting African-Americans who are disproportionately prone to be imprisoned.
“[The 1994 Crime Bill] devastated communities of color throughout the country. The bill also had bans on assault weapons as well as the Violence Against Women Act,” says Hunter Baldridge, a senior at Utah State University. “At the time, violent crime was hitting all time highs and the voters wanted something done. I believe it tried to address this but went too far and they didn’t plan ahead for what could be the ramifications.”
Jeffery M. Robinson, a freshman student at Coastal Carolina University, also disapproves of Biden’s role in the making of the crime bill.
“I do not agree with the crime bill that was passed in 1994,” says Robinson. “However, I am not sure that Biden had full negative intentions when he helped implement it. But, I don’t like that he is trying to keep the troops deployed and not send them home.”
Although the crime bill was intended to change decades of rising crimes, it became one of the primary donors to mass incarceration in the 90s. As the bill is one of Biden’s main concerns to voters, Biden has released a criminal justice reform plan in an attempt to undo the harmful policies he originally advocated for.
Kamala Harris’ political record as an attorney general
As the San Francisco district attorney and California’s attorney general, Harris’ record on criminal justice issues led many to view the vice presidential nominee as a relic of the “tough on crime” era rather than a progressive prosecutor.
Harris’ weaponizing actions that withheld unjustly incarcerated people behind bars rather than conducting new trials have many voters wary about supporting the ticket. One of those wrongfully convicted people is Kevin Cooper, who is on death row, which Harris had the authority to change. Harris also refused to require DNA testing in Cooper’s case.
“I feel like Kamala is definitely backwards,” says Bailey Williams, a junior at Bethune-Cookman University. “She was a prosecutor locking African-Americans up in jail. She has many skeletons in her closet, but now all the sudden she wants to provide all these benefits for African-Americans.”
Harris also advocated for the truancy law that parents could face expensive fines or even jail time if their children missed school. A law that Ezra Craker, a sophomore student attending Calvin University, was uncomfortable about in regards to his vote for the Biden-Harris administration due to the harm that Harris’ actions have on impoverished communities of color.
“For Kamala Harris, I really feel uneasy about voting for somebody who has a role of putting a lot of people in jail,” said Craker. “For example, the truancy policy that she had as attorney general. She would threaten to put people with kids that weren’t coming to school enough in jail. I really disagree with that.”
However, Harris has released a criminal justice reform plan that would try to undo the war on drugs and mass incarceration.
Biden-Harris administration on fracking and police brutality
Both Democratic presidential nominees have had their fair share of controversy when it comes to concerning issues such as police brutality and fracking.
At the 2020 presidential debate, Biden claimed he never opposed fracking — a system to revolutionize oil and gas drilling across America. However, CNN reported that Biden’s debate statement on fracking was false and that his intentions are unclear in regards to the issue which opposes his running mate, Harris, who has made her intentions clear that she would ban fracking.
“The most pressing issue of our time that the administration needs to face head-on is climate change,” says Riley Crezee, a sophomore at Utah State University. “The United States is destroying its natural beauty by allowing for oil drilling. Here in my state, Utah, the administration is trying to allow oil drilling to take place in national parks and monuments which is many levels of screwed up. We should instead be transitioning away from fossil fuels [and] banning the sale of new gas cars by 2030, like California.”
On the topic of unclear plans of action, many voters are also confused about the administration’s police brutality plan if elected. In fact, several voters who support the administration say that Biden and Harris don’t have a direct approach to police reform. Deja Wilson, a junior at Florida A&M University, happens to be one of them.
“A problem I have with the Biden Harris campaign is the lack of direct attention on police reform,” says Wilson.”This summer alone has shown how corrupt our police system is. If Biden is not for defunding the police, he should have a clear plan for police reform.”
Abigail Dumonceau, a junior at the University of Florida, also doesn’t agree with Biden’s unclear intentions in regards to the police.
“I don’t agree with Biden calling for more funding of police, regardless of its intent to fund police social workers’ as opposed to funding existing social programs not tied to police budgets,” says Dumonceau. “In general, I support more allocation away from police budgets and towards effective social programs.”
With the spike of Black Lives Matter protests and criminal justice reform getting recent widespread attention, the majority of the Democratic party have supported the movement, resulting in the presidential Democratic ticket to do the same.
Most college voters simply want President Trump out of office
Most students aren’t too wary or concerned about the administration’s past controversial policies. They merely want the current president in office to not be re-elected for another presidential term. Justice Horn Jr., a senior at Missouri-Kansas City University, is one of the college students who support the ticket because of President Trump’s failure to support or progressively advocate for minority rights.
“I mean we do live in a two-party system where there is a democratic and republican running against each other, and the two divisions I work for, the Black policy and the LGBTQ policy, Trump doesn’t have any of that,” says Horn. “And this an incremental change thing where we need to elect Biden and Harris because they are going to get our country back to, not only normal, but building back better, seeing as how we move forward as a country and embrace our differences.”
XiLin Choi, a freshman at the University of California Berkeley, also agrees that she prefers an administration that is rightfully for all American lives and values.
“I think that their imperfect policies that don’t improve society to the extent we need is far preferable to an administration that actively regresses American values, decency, and not to mention all of the aforementioned policies that we’re fighting for,” says Choi. “I believe that they’re good human beings and that although they sometimes fail to grasp many of the ideas… they are willing and capable of evolving, improving and have demonstrated this ability through their respective careers and even within just this election cycle.”
College students demand change in America
Although the Biden-Harris administration has publicly stated plans to undo these policies that caused harm to numerous of their voters, college students still demand to see change within their communities.
Kelly Woodson, a junior at the Catholic University of America, states how the 2020 presidential election will have a detrimental effect on the country for the next decades.
“This election is not even about the next four years, it’s about really the next forty years, the next sixty years of your life,” says Woodson. “I said it many times, no matter if I have children with a Black man or a white man, my children will be Black. I refused to set them in this precedent and notion of hatred, bigotry, sexism and racism throughout the United States with a leader [President Trump] who literally does not care if you’re suffering.”
These ten college students and many more voted for Biden and Harris because they believed the ticket will lead the nation into the right direction for the next four years and possibly even decades. However, many college students worry about the nation’s future as the country awaits the results of who is elected to be the next president of the United States on Tuesday, Nov. 3.