Earlier this year, on that fateful Super Tuesday when former Vice President Joe Biden came out just ahead of then-presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, I recall watching the results with a crushing sense of disappointment. Here was a candidate I had put my emotional energy into, a candidate to whom I had donated my money and my time. Sanders was never the perfect politician, but his platform and unwavering sense of honesty had moved me and inspired a passion for politics within me that I’d never felt before.
Yet now, with the presidential election less than two weeks away, I find myself looking at things with a different perspective. If you’re a leftist, I know it’s tempting to feel cynical toward the state of American politics. Earlier this year, in fact, I had no intention of voting in the presidential election at all. But time has changed my mind, and as a fellow progressive, I urge you to at least consider voting for Biden this November.
While Biden’s moderate platform isn’t the most inspiring set of policies I’ve ever seen offered by a political candidate, I think it’s important leftists take note of policies that signal a genuine step in the right direction.
For one, Biden recently unveiled a number of tax proposals, many of which have been constructed in the hopes of easing the tax burden on the lower and middle classes, while increasing it for households making more than $400,000 a year. Considering the average American household income is roughly $68,000, this seems quite reasonable and is definitely a decent proposal for a moderate such as Biden. It may not be as bold as proposals set forth by former candidates Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., but it’s certainly a positive sign.
Another notable policy of Biden’s is his proposal to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour. Supporters of Sanders probably recognize this policy, as the former candidate often spoke of it when laying out his own platform.
Other policy ideas shared between Biden and his more left-leaning colleagues include campaign finance reform — which would seek to make elections publicly funded — and student debt forgiveness. In Biden’s plan, this means forgiving student debt for graduates making less than $125,000, provided they received their education at a public university.
Most important of all, however, is Biden’s climate change platform. When compared to policies such as the Green New Deal, Biden’s plan is definitely lacking. However, with scientists emphasizing the importance of addressing the climate issue before it’s too late, it’s clear we need a president who is willing to take climate change seriously.
That president is decidedly not President Donald Trump, who announced his intention to remove the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement June 2017, which will formally begin Nov. 4. Trump has yet to release a comprehensive plan to address the issue of climate change.
In stark contrast, Biden’s plan includes reducing U.S. carbon emissions to zero by 2050, as well as rallying world leaders in a summit to address the seriousness of the issue. The latter is particularly notable, as climate change is a global issue and cannot be solved by one nation alone.
It’s safe to say the stakes for this election are extremely high. Not only are we dealing with the existential threat of climate change, but there is also the issue of the Supreme Court. Since the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the court is under threat to have a 6-3 conservative majority. Such a conservative tilt is extremely dangerous because it opens up the possibility of important decisions like Roe v. Wade, which protects abortion rights for women, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which protects the right for same-sex couples to marry, being overturned.
It’s because of issues like these that having a Democratic president is so vital. Sure, Biden comes with some baggage. Sure, he’s not exactly a progressive. But his policies are, at the very least, a step in the right direction, and they’re certainly better than Trump’s.
This election cycle, I encourage all leftists to keep an open mind and consider the big picture. Yes, things are looking a bit dire right now, but it’s easy to be blinded by present anger and frustration and forget to consider what the future holds. As progressives, we all want someone to sweep in with powerful, comprehensive climate plans and bold tax reform. But in the end, a little change is better than no change, especially at such a tense and uncertain time as the moment we are living in now.
Molly Hayes (she/her) is a junior studying English. She plans to earn a Master of Library Science.