Last week, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign, leaving Joe Biden as the last Democrat in the 2020 race. With 29 candidates at the start of the trail, this campaign season has not only been fascinating but also memorable. I love politics but it's been difficult to watch my favorite candidates slowly rise and fall in the polls and eventually drop out. Each time I was hopeful for the future of a particular person, they would suspend their campaigns.
However, there's a lot more than the simple fact that I'm essentially left with the choice of Biden and Donald Trump.
For one thing, this set of candidates has been among the most left-leaning in recent history. People like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders were known for their "radical" platforms and unprecedented strides toward a seemingly socialist system. As much as I hate it and it pains me to say, their progressivism posed an issue. The majority of America is not ready for the kind of system they're proposing, and elected officials are no exception. Many liberals say it doesn't matter whether we're ready or not for change to this country because it's necessary. I don't disagree entirely, yet, I have to be realistic with myself and realize that a more centrist politician is what we need to pave the way for fundamental social changes like that. In the words of my favorite former candidate: "We need leadership to heal a divided nation, not drive us further apart. We need a broad-based agenda to truly deliver for the American people, not one that gets lost in ideology." In a perfect system, I would vote for someone like Sanders or Warren, but this system isn't perfect, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg knew it.
Next, we have this "vote blue no matter who" mentality. Never have I been more baffled by the American political system than I have in this race. There's a lot of jokes on social media surrounding this idea that they "have to vote for Biden now." Frankly, this infuriates me. Voting is one of the greatest powers we have in this country; You should make your voice heard and fight for your rights, especially considering recent events in Wisconsin with voter suppression. If you genuinely support Joe Biden or see him as a viable alternative, then, by all means, vote blue. But to vote for a candidate SIMPLY because they are "blue" is absolutely ridiculous. The same goes for this "a vote for a third party is a vote for Trump" idea. This kind of political pressure is the exact kind of thing that contributes to such low voter turnout. If you don't like either candidate of the two major parties, vote for a third party or an independent. The chances of them winning the race are incredibly small, but it removes votes being cast in favor of candidates you don't like. Literally do anything besides vote for someone out of a twisted obligation or not vote at all (which is actually worse).
With all of that being said, let's talk about Joe Biden. I never imagined that he would make it this far, but he has garnered a ton of popularity from the older generations and moderate Democrats. I actually align with many of his policies and support the need for a centrist right now, but I still have major issues with Biden. Donald Trump is perpetually criticized — as he should be — for his sexual assault allegations and racially prejudiced statements. Yet, Joe Biden has a similar problem. His voting record in office has favored racist policies in the past, and a few women have come forward with stories of his inappropriate, harmful sexual misconduct. So why are we ignoring that? Because he favors leftist ideology? Because he's a Democrat and therefore morally superior? I do not support Donald Trump in the slightest, and a part of that is how no one holds him accountable. Democrats and Republicans alike have demanded that he pay for his actions, so we should be doing the same thing for all politicians, regardless of party. Perhaps Biden is better in comparison to our current administration, but that doesn't mean we should ignore his behavior.
Lastly, what perhaps disappoints me most about this primary cycle is this feeling of deja vu. I couldn't vote in the 2016 election, and truthfully, I'm somewhat glad because I can understand how people felt. Sadly, I feel like I'm picking the lesser of two evils. When did it become acceptable for the president, the highest and most respected office in this country, become the laughing stock of the media? I'm not sure how I will be voting in November, but I can honestly say that I am not excited about it.