Illustrations by Hannah Robinson
Following George Floyd’s death, and the subsequent protest marches, the US has become even more divided– between those fighting for change, versus those fighting to sustain the status quo. In November, the US will have a presidential election and because of these deepening divides, the results could be very marginal. For changes to be possible, Trump must lose. Otherwise, those fighting for change can expect another four years challenging the status quo, with a President that will not help turn their ideas into policies.
Part of the reason Trump won in 2016 was not because more people supported Trump, but because fewer people felt motivated enough to go out and actively vote for Clinton in the areas and states that counted. Potential voters were lost because many were not inspired by her campaign and didn’t go out and vote for her. Indeed, while Trump may have been disliked, the other candidate was not appealing enough to many who felt apathetic about the whole election. Thus, many instead decided to not vote at all – 45% of the eligible voting population did not cast a vote.
So, Joe Biden, the Democratic party’s nominee, has a real challenge on his hands – in order to win the 2020 election, he must win the votes of those who did not vote in 2016. It is not enough to persuade them to be anti-Trump, it is about being actively pro-Biden. For Biden to win, he must demonstrate and prove that he is a candidate who is genuinely for those politically apathetic communities. Biden must focus on the 45% in order to win the election and secure the possibility of hope and change which is so desperately needed.
US election process negatively affect black voters, such as voter ID laws, limited voting hours, and poll closures. Getting out to vote can be challenging for some people, so Biden needs to work with organisations such as Black Voter Fund in order to ensure voting can be accessible for as many voters as possible. Biden also needs to give apathetic voters a reason to go out and vote. Apathetic voters have been let down because politicians have failed to prove that they can represent them. They are already anti-Trump; this is demonstrated in the fact they didn’t vote for him. But the real issue is persuading them to be for Biden.
The strength of recent BLM protests have highlighted real visceral anger. There is clamour for change, and the protests have sparked support and shared anger across the world. Now, Americans must work to ensure their voices are materialised in the election result. Protesting is vital for raising awareness, but as Obama has argued it is through both ‘protest and politics’ that systematic change is ensured. Political change is now needed in order to concretise the desires behind the protests.
Trump has condemned the protests, and if he wins again, then he will have won a mandate of being able to continue governing in this way. Biden’s campaign should be about persuading apathetic and non-typical democrat voters to vote for Biden. Biden’s “joke” that if black voters voted for Trump they weren’t ‘black’ was unhelpful, distasteful and arrogant. In 2016, black voter turnout dropped 7%; this was the first decline in twenty years. Biden needs to work to gain the trust and support of black voters.
I do not pretend to understand or know the answers, but I know that assuming people’s vote can lead to lazy politics and voter alienation. Biden needs to demonstrate that he is sincere and how he will change things, rather than just calling for change.