Considering the COVID-19 pandemic and the flaws it exposed within the federal government, 2020 is looking increasingly grim. As a result, only 17% of Americans currently trust the federal government. While neither Donald Trump or Joe Biden appear to be able to attain the public’s trust at the moment, Biden is the only candidate that will be able to eventually bridge this gap. His election would not restore faith in the federal government, but he will not harm it either. Under an extremely pragmatic lens, Joe Biden is the best candidate to win the 2020 election.
Personally, I do not like Joe Biden as a person nor as a candidate. I believe Tara Reade (I am inclined to believe survivors of sexual assault), and her story is consistent with behaviors that Biden has exhibited. Moreover, Biden has struggled to stand out in the debates, receiving more criticism than praise for his appearances. His platform is vaguely liberal, hitting the same notes that other candidates did, but appearing more generic about them. All of these points show that in any other election, Biden would not be a strong candidate as a presidential nominee.
However, right now, he is the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party, and the party is ideologically split between progressives and moderates. While one can argue that Bernie Sanders was blacked out from the media, Sanders always came off as uncompromising to the establishment, with whom he would have to cooperate if elected. To youth voters, his rebellious nature made him the perfect candidate. To voters outside his coalition, however, he appeared dangerous. After all, if one spends the majority of his political career outside an established party, it can be difficult to win its nomination. Biden won over Sanders simply because he was the safer choice as the establishment candidate.
With that in mind, consider current president Donald Trump whose inaction concerning the pandemic has exacerbated its effects. All the while, he refuses to claim responsibility and even takes a victory lap over a crisis that is still happening. Going only slightly further back, he authorized the murder of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, bringing the United States closer to another war in the Middle East. Finally, not even a year ago, Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Considering these circumstances, it is not morally permissible to allow him another presidential term.
Joe Biden is not ideal by any means, but one can glean a rough approximation of his politics as a center-left candidate. For instance, he may not pass single-payer healthcare, but rather than actively work to dismantle it like Trump, he intends to continue refining the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Again, this is not the best option, but if single-payer healthcare is the endgame, ACA expansion is a step in the right direction. Similarly, Biden may not pass comprehensive climate legislation, but rather than disregard science altogether, he intends to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and has a climate plan outlined in his platform. At the same time, while his statements on his potential running mate have felt like pandering, it cannot be seen as a bad thing to have more women or people of color in politics.
Personally, after Biden is elected, I would favor a federal investigation in the sexual assault claims against him. These accusations are worth investigating, and Biden should be held accountable for them. However, it is important to consider Trump’s election as a stab wound to the reputation of the United States that has been bleeding out for the last four years. I liken voting for Joe Biden as putting pressure on the wound; it will not fix the problem and it is not the best long term solution, but it will definitely stop the bleeding. As elections go, the cliche is always choosing the lesser of two evils; in 2020, that phrase has never been more apropos.