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The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Kronenberg: Voting Biden is a moral imperative

On Jan. 20, 2025, either Joe Biden or Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States. The difference between those two outcomes will have colossal ramifications on the lives of Americans and people around the world.

In separate op-eds published by The Daily in the last week, two Northwestern students advocated for not weighing in on this choice, either by voting third party or not showing up at the polls altogether. Last Wednesday, McCormick sophomore Caleb Nunes argued that the threat Trump poses to democracy is greatly exaggerated and that sitting out the election would provide a necessary wake-up call to the “political and consultant class.” Yesterday, graduate student Melissa Duda claimed that voting for the “lesser of two evils” still constitutes an endorsement of evil, citing Biden’s handling of the economy and the war in Gaza.

The authors of these pieces treat the act of voting as an ideological purity test — Nunes ended his article by writing that non-voters will have “kept their hands clean,” while Duda wrote that she is declining to “participate in this race to the very bottom of morality.” In doing so, they show a complete disregard for the material consequences that will befall Americans if Trump is elected to a second term. Those who will be most impacted by a Trump presidency do not have the luxury of abstaining from a strategic choice that, in some cases, may be a matter of life or death.

The Trump 2024 campaign has not exactly been subtle about its intentions. Trump has repeatedly called illegal immigrants “animals” who are “poisoning the blood of our country,” echoing rhetoric used by Adolf Hitler to describe Jews in Germany. To complement this rhetoric, he has planned militarized mass-deportations with newly-built detention camps to hold the millions rounded up.

Consistently repeating his lies about the 2020 election that led to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Trump has suggested he will weaponize the Department of Justice to prosecute his political opponents. He has vowed to abandon NATO allies who do not sufficiently contribute to the defense alliance, encouraging Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” as it continues an illegal and unjustified war against Ukraine.

A Trump presidency would also see an immediate rollback of Biden’s progress on climate policy, with advisors claiming Trump would sign a wave of executive orders expanding oil and gas production. Former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Patricia Espinosa recently warned that Trump winning would have “very strong consequences” for the world’s chances of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees celsius.

On abortion, Trump will face immense pressure from anti-choice activists to appoint a Food and Drug Administration head who will overturn the agency’s approval of the abortion pill mifepristone — and a Department of Justice chief who will reinterpret the Comstock Act to ban the mailing of all equipment used for abortions. These two executive actions alone could make it nearly impossible to legally terminate a pregnancy across the country, even in the absence of a national abortion ban passed by Congress.

In his piece, Nunes asserted that institutions such as Congress and “the extensive federal bureaucracy” are strong enough to prevent Trump’s anti-democratic crusade. Yet, this logic vastly underestimates the extent to which those institutions will be controlled by Trump loyalists.

On Jan. 6, 2021, 147 Republicans voted not to certify the election results, representing roughly 54% of the caucus. Since then, the number of Trump-skeptical Republicans in Congress has been rapidly dwindling. In the executive branch, Trump will have learned from his first administration, when he appointed many career bureaucrats and business leaders who eventually spoke out against him — this time, only staunch loyalists are likely to hold federal positions.

Nunes also argued that the long-term effects of the message sent to “consultants and donors” by not voting would outweigh any short-term consequences. This point can be easily refuted with just three words: the Supreme Court. A Trump presidency would present an opportunity for justices Clarence Thomas, 75, and Samuel Alito, 74, to be replaced, cementing a 6-3 conservative majority for several decades.

This could lead to disastrous decisions on gay marriage, contraception, climate, guns and voting rights, to name just a few prominent issues that the current court has shown a willingness to reconsider. Even if progressive non-voters’ dream scenario were to play out — with a Trump victory leading to a massive internal reckoning and the abolition of the two-party system — Republicans will have already won the long game.

At this point, the vast majority of this piece has focused on Trump’s threat rather than Biden’s proficiency, a dynamic which Duda laments in her critique of the Biden supporters who have tried to convince her to vote for him. Point taken. There are several reasons to be excited about Biden’s accomplishments.

His trademark piece of legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act, marked the largest investment in climate change solutions in American history. The expanded Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan briefly cut child poverty by about 50% to a record low, before the policy was discontinued due to opposition from a tiny minority of the Democratic caucus. Biden has presided over a staggering economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, including reaching the lowest unemployment rate in over 50 years in early 2023.

Duda argued that the recent downturn in inflation rates is irrelevant to everyday Americans who still face rising prices at gas stations and grocery stores, yet this ignores the context that wage growth has been outpacing inflation for about a year — in other words, the average working American is seeing their purchasing power grow, not decrease.

These achievements have not come close to fixing America’s deep-seated problems, but they demonstrate that a stronger Democratic majority under Biden would continue to move us in the right direction. Instead of working toward that goal, advocates of not voting fantasize about a long-term plan to uproot the two-party system, showing a complete disinterest in solving problems in the present day and a lack of care for those who will get hurt while they sit around and wait for an ideal political outcome.

How will you explain to the woman who is forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term that her right to bodily autonomy has been revoked because Biden did not pass your ideological purity test? How will you explain to the climate refugee who has been displaced as a result of Trump’s climate-denialist policies that their torment will be worth it in the end? How will you explain to the Ukrainian soldier that America no longer stands with their fight against a tyrannical dictator intent on conquering their country because we are waiting for the revolution to come?

We are facing an existential threat — to our democracy, our rights and our world order. The choice is simple: Vote for the man who will prevent us from going down that dark path or sit out. History will not look favorably upon those who take the latter route.

Eli Kronenberg is a Medill freshman. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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