Essay: Yes, Vote for Biden — But Don’t Think That’s All You Need to Do

Rylee Tan | The Phoenix

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I got my mail-in ballot the other day and for the first time in my life, I voted in a presidential election. Bubbling my vote in like some sort of take-home test isn’t how I imagined my first federal election would be. 

I’m going to be honest — I don’t like Joe Biden. His platform, his personality and his history, pretty much everything about him. Biden’s campaign is yet another manifestation of corporate, establishment-type Democrats overriding the will of the people — leaving a wake of disaffected, disappointed and discouraged leftist voters. 

Despite President Trump repeatedly calling Biden a member of the “radical left,” Biden is working hard to paint himself as a moderate to the point of courting center-leaning Republicans harder than left-leaning Democrats. 

Right now, there’s a lot of activism around getting progressives and leftists to vote for Biden. But rather than vote-shame that part of the Democratic party, the messaging needs to focus on the portion of voters who think Biden is a panacea for Trump  — because he isn’t. 

Biden won’t endorse Medicare for All or any plan where 100 percent of Americans are guaranteed health insurance.

Biden’s plan for healthcare is mainly a series of improvements to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed by former President Barack Obama. He would establish a medicare-like “public option” while maintaining the private insurance marketplace and give tax credits to allow people to purchase insurance as well, according to his campaign website. This would allow up to 97 percent of people to get coverage, his website said. 

That’s not good enough. 

My parents are self-employed, small business owners. I didn’t have health insurance until the ACA made it affordable. So the concept of healthcare being tied to employment — in a country that doesn’t guarantee jobs, and in a time where unemployment is at record levels — is frustrating and angering. 

Biden won’t endorse the Green New Deal, and his climate plan still allows for fracking — a point his running mate Kamala Harris has doubled-down on

His past support for the 1994 Crime Bill — which helped bolster mass incarceration in the U.S., especially of Black people — and rejection of cannabis legalization don’t allow for much optimism in the criminal justice field. His remarks on policing during the Oct. 15 town hall, where he continued to call “the vast majority of police officers … good, decent, honorable men and women,” reinforce the need for more than just his piecemeal reforms.

His education plan allows for public, two-year community colleges to be debt-free, but existing student debt — insert amount as of Oct. 18 — remains. 

The list goes on and on. 

Granted, to some people, the issues I put forward may not seem like issues at all. To some, Biden’s plan is comprehensive enough. 

But if you think healthcare is a human right, Black people shouldn’t be killed by police and people deserve an education without drowning in debt, then after voting for Biden you need to do more. 

Biden — and the moderate establishment Democrats — won’t change unless we force them to. While the chance for a truly progressive executive branch is gone for the next four years, down-ballot races are the best chance for effecting actual change. 

It starts with city councils and mayorships, then state legislatures, governorships and finally federal representation. Every Democrat — from council members to U.S. senators — should be worried about the 2022 midterms no matter who wins. 

But lately, the phrase “Go vote!” is starting to turn into another reincarnation of “thoughts and prayers.” While voting is a way to show your support for new candidates with better ideas, you can always pressure current politicians with protests. There’s nothing like a massive demonstration of public support to force people in power to actually work for their constituents. 

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