It is of the majority opinion of The Quad’s Op-Ed staff and Editorial Board that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has demonstrated a greater capacity to lead the United States, in his conduct and his policy, than his opponent, President Donald J. Trump.
We, both as members of the press and concerned students, have an obligation to our readership and the community that fosters us. Over the past four years, we have extensively covered the local and national effects of Donald Trump’s actions as president. We have seen our community wounded by legislation he has endorsed and divided by rhetoric that he continues to repeat. While the Editorial Board has varying opinions on the specifics of each candidate’s campaign, the majority believe that Biden will contribute more towards an equitable future for the people of West Chester University.
The Op-Ed staff and Editorial Board represent a wide range of perspectives, views and political dispositions. This endorsement represents an opinion, not one monolithic position held by our entire board. Neither the decision to endorse a candidate nor the decision to endorse Joe Biden specifically were reached unanimously. This majority opinion was reached by means of various meetings and dialogue amongst members of the Editorial Board who wished to participate. During a conversation, which consisted of numerous members of the staff, it was decided that it was our best interest to collectively endorse the candidate that we felt upheld the values which best represent and protect our community at West Chester, in addition to the nation as a whole — this candidate being Joe Biden, the nominee of the Democratic Party. From that moment forward, we were able to name those ideologies and values and define the ways in which they have shaped our decision to both publish an endorsement — a pioneering act for our publication — and to publish an endorsement of Joe Biden specifically.
We believe that this endorsement does not compromise our ability to deliver the news with our integrity and objectivity intact. There are moments in time where dispassionately or “neutrally” delivering the news would not only be unethical but also misleading. When Edward R. Murrow, on his show “See It Now” for CBS, investigated and reported on the communist witch hunts of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, he gave his opinion — founded on the facts of the show’s investigation and reporting — saying, “The line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one, and the junior Senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly.” We believe that we are able to default to our humanity without risking our credibility as journalists in instances where neutrality poses a significant risk to the well-being of our audience.
What follows are statements written by members of The Quad’s Editorial Board, each specific to one policy or other important issue in this election, explaining in more detail why we have decided to endorse Joe Biden.
The Coronavirus Pandemic
Do you remember March? Because somewhere in the deep recesses of our minds we remember our commander-in-chief saying that we would have a country open with “packed churches” by “Easter Sunday.” He said that seven months ago. Have you been to mass? How about the vaccine that same man promised us before election day? We don’t recall getting a shot. And that quick economic recovery he swore to? It now rests on the possibility of stimulus checks that his GOP won’t give us.
Has it ever once seemed like Donald Trump has had a real plan? An actual concept for action that wasn’t just some idyllic, “best you’ve ever seen” future? Every piece of information that the Trump administration has given the American people about the coronavirus has done as much as possible to ignore the public’s suffering while simultaneously making faulty, reelection-centered promises. The health of our nation is being threatened by a deadly disease, and Donald Trump chose to withdraw from the World Health Organization and demonize the Center for Disease Control.
You want a plan? Biden has one, and it’s not a vague promise or a magic recovery. His plan is a humane solution to our new reality. Literally the first promise it makes is an allegiance to the CDC (a relationship that Trump has strained beyond belief), followed by a vow of stimulus to those in need. Joe Biden wants to rejoin the WHO, and in doing so, help not only the country but the world. We’re not convinced Donald Trump has thought past Nov. 3 since he was elected.
Matthew Shimkonis, Copy Editor
Climate change is an issue that shapes our future in a number of ways, though our current president appears to have no understanding of that fact. President Trump has blatantly disregarded science in favor of exploiting valuable resources. His administration has not only been complacent but also active in the destruction of the earth, encouraging the continuation of environmentally harmful practices instead of creating opportunity for solutions.
President Trump has repeatedly ignored the rising temperatures and melting ice caps that so clearly cry “crisis.” His 2017 announcement that the United States would leave the Paris Agreement, a green initiative signed by over 190 countries, was the beginning of a long list of environmental atrocities. 2019 saw him rollback limits on greenhouse gas emissions as well as open more land to drill for oil and gas. In 2020, California is in flames, Flint, Michigan, is still without clean drinking water and our carbon emissions continue to push the planet to the point of no return. His continued lack of concern for the planet is, in a word, concerning; how is a leader to promise bright futures when there will not be a planet to host them?
A future with clean air, drinkable water and renewable resources cannot subsist on President Trump. Joe Biden has promised to protect the environment and make green energy development a priority. He has promised to create solutions, not settle for problems. He has promised a future for our generation, a seemingly basic concept that our current president cannot grasp. Even if we cannot be certain that he will deliver these promises, we can be certain that President Trump will spend another four years destroying the very planet we live on.
Caroline Helms, Assistant News Editor
Let’s begin by saying that President Trump overtly nominated the most unqualified secretary for the Department of Education (DOE) in U.S. history, Betsy DeVos. It has been found that DeVos has not attended or worked in a public school. Along with the president, DeVos and her team cut $9.2 billion from the Department of Education’s funding; this funding was the key to teachers’ pay, after-school programs for low-income students and more. If it hasn’t been clear throughout Trump’s term, he and the conservatively-run DOE want to invest into the private education system, which would mean working to transform most public schools into charter schools. If Trump continues his presidency, this problem will only increase, and many parents/guardians may face the harsh reality of being forced to pay for their childrens’ private education because their local public school district was shut down. Let’s not forget when Trump and DeVos threatened to defund the Special Olympics, a nonprofit that trains and educates athletes with intellectual disabilities to compete in various types of sporting events: only because there was a bipartisan uproar did President Trump revoke his decision.
The education department is shrinking as we speak. In Trump’s executive order from March, he urged the downsizing of departments and agencies within the system. While the Obama administration issued guidance for sexual assault victims in U.S. universities, DeVos and Trump decided to ease those obligations on universities. With all that being said, we need a president that will strive to protect our students, teachers and public education system. While Joe Biden may not be the exact nominee we were hoping for, his policy and plans to support and build back education are extremely timely.
The Biden-Harris administration promises to make sure teachers receive increased wages, invest in teacher mentoring, double the amount of school psychologists and other health professionals on site, expand after-school programs for students in need and instill innovative approaches to recruit educators of color. These are only a select few of the former Vice President’s promises if he takes office. It’s disheartening to witness the downward spiral of our education system. It hurts to see the unwillingness to care for teachers, students and their families while without them, what would our world be? Education is the foundation of our careers and strength. We need to vote for growth, not regression.
Madison Starinieri, Assistant Multimedia Editor
Human and Civil Rights
Since the day President Trump took office, his administration has strategically and systematically attacked the hard-fought rights of marginalized groups, such as women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community. On Inauguration Day, the White House website removed all mentions of women’s rights, civil rights and LGBTQ+ rights. His administration has stripped back regulations requiring employers to report pay data in relation to race and gender, removing safeguards against pay discrimination. They have eroded women’s reproductive rights, from countless attempts to defund Planned Parenthood to July’s Supreme Court ruling that employers do not have to cover birth control (which is essential to many women’s health for reasons besides contraception) based on religious objections. Spearheaded by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, his administration has weakened Title IX, making it harder for sexual assault victims on college campuses to receive justice. They have eliminated anti-discrimination policies for transgender individuals in education and healthcare, as well as barred them from serving in the military. They have constantly undermined anti-discrimination policies based on sexual orientation and gender identity in all areas of life, from education to employment to healthcare.
Most visible are Trump’s attacks on people of color. He referred to white supremacists in Charlottesville as “very fine people” and refused to condemn white supremacist organizations like the Proud Boys at the first presidential debate. He sent in the National Guard to clear out peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors so that he could take a photo outside of St. John’s Church. He has rolled back Obama-era policies designed to hold police accountable for brutality and abuse of power, all while encouraging police to use force against nonviolent demonstrators. Just last month, his administration attempted to ban federal agencies from offering racial sensitivity training based on critical race theory.
With the recent confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, another four years of Trump’s presidency is more dangerous than ever. In her career as a judge, Barrett has consistently ruled against protections for women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community. With a third of the Court now appointed by Trump, landmark cases such as Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges hang in the balance.
While Joe Biden’s policies may not be as progressive as we want them to be, he certainly will not actively oppose the human rights we have fought so hard to obtain. In fact, he has committed to protecting and even expanding women’s and LGBTQ+ rights. Admittedly, his history regarding racial justice has been inconsistent, to say the least. Even now, he still does not support defunding the police. However, his platform does involve criminal justice reform and economic advancements for people of color. It’s not ideal, but a few steps forward is better than the giant leaps backward we have seen under the Trump administration.
Shannon Montgomery, Copy Editor
America’s Racial Divide
Since becoming president in 2016, Donald Trump has made history, becoming known for creating the most racial divide any president has since the Civil Rights era. If you ask President Donald Trump, he isn’t racist. To the contrary, he’s repeatedly said that he’s “the least racist person that you’ve ever encountered.”
Trump’s actual record, however, tells a very different story. On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly made explicitly racist and otherwise bigoted remarks: from calling Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists, to proposing a ban on all Muslims entering the US, to suggesting a judge should recuse himself from a case solely because of the judge’s Mexican heritage. The trend has continued into his presidency from stereotyping a Black reporter to pandering white supremacists after they held a violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump hasn’t stopped with racist acts after his 2016 election.
Most recently Trump caught COVID-19, which before he rudely called the “Chinese Virus” and claimed was a hoax. Now with one of the most important elections on the way, he has continued to divide the United States.
Will we let this divide continue for the next four years?
Najah Hendricks, AVATT Editor
Growth of Social Movements
If we wish to grow or, at the very least, maintain the momentum at which the social movements across the country have been operating with, it is in our best interest to vote for Joe Biden. Though he may not be someone who we know will make every single change we hope to see, there is a level of ability at which organizers and movers will be able to operate under his administration as opposed to what will come with the continuation of the current administration.
As Angela Davis explained in her talk here at West Chester University, we aren’t just voting for a name. We aren’t voting for Biden because we love everything about him. We are voting for him because doing so means voting for ourselves and our communities and the communities we support and wish to see succeed.
We know exactly what we can expect from the Trump administration. Allowing him to reign for another term means signing ourselves up for four more years of lies, gaslighting, threats and greed, none of which are conducive for the growth of human rights or the movements which advocate for it.
It can be maddeningly discouraging to not have an option who makes this growth a top priority in the way that many wish a presidential candidate would. As a result, it might feel as though the best option is to vote for someone outside of the two majority parties. It might even feel like the best option in order to protect communities and movements at risk is to not vote at all.
But in this particular moment, it isn’t about who can tick every single one of the correct boxes, although we wish it could be. Rather, it is about which of the two candidates will allow for the cultivation of an environment which will enable the continuation and expansion of some of the most important social movements in our nation’s history.
Too much is at stake to allow for this sort of neutrality. Neutrality in this instance is equivalent to active harm. The only way to take a stand against this is to use our one and only vote and make sure it is going to a candidate whose leadership has shown that it can make space and safety for social movements to continue advocating for what is right and what will make this country a better place.
That candidate is Joe Biden.
Ali Kochik, Op-Ed Editor
Use of the Presidential Voice
The world of American politics has a concept of something called the “presidential voice” that is the presence and authority possessed by the president and used by them, often to substantial effect. This is less of a substantive policy issue than the rest of those discussed here but is equally as important, especially when dealing with a president who either has no concept of the consequences of his use of the presidential voice or who doesn’t care.
In April, President Trump tweeted “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” with that very tone, caps and all, sandwiched between the same tweet for Minnesota and Virginia, respectively. All three states have Democratic governors who had instituted, in the eyes of Trump and many of his fanatics, restrictive stay-at-home orders to attempt to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. In early October, it was revealed, as a result of an FBI investigation, that several individuals had conspired to kidnap Gretchen Whimer, the current Governor of Michigan. As of Oct. 16, and according to CNN, 14 individuals have been charged in relation to the kidnapping plot.
At the presidential debate on Sept. 29, moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump to unequivocally denounce white supremacists, like the organization known as the Proud Boys. Trump refused and instead said, to the Proud Boys, “stand back and stand by.” The Proud Boys subsequently posted a new logo to social media using the president’s words, celebrating what they viewed as encouragement and support for their causes.
A president possesses a vast amount of power in simply making public statements, and the use of that power carries with it consequences that vary in their severity, which, at worst, can motivate Americans to commit violent acts and take the lives of their neighbors. President Trump possesses this same power and shows no fear or concern when he employs it. He either explicitly desires the consequences that arise from using that power or doesn’t understand that those consequences could manifest.
Joe Biden, on the other hand, has proven himself to be a much more measured leader. He has no history of making inflammatory statements — certainly not on Twitter — that could inflame and mobilize extremist groups to commit aggressive acts out of their prejudice and hate. That measure might come from his years of managing a stutter, or it might come from a certain compassion that Trump simply fundamentally lacks — it doesn’t really matter. What matters most is that a president is elected that will not only avoid but refuse to encourage extremist groups to commit violence. In this regard, Joe Biden is the only choice.
Kyle Gombosi, Assistant Op-Ed Editor
Attacks on the Press
One reason newspapers specifically have a right to endorsement is by virtue of the unique relationship between the press and the systems of power it covers. The press is specifically guaranteed rights by the First Amendment because of its ability to inform and connect people on a large scale. This power, like all power, can be used to great and terrible ends, and those news outlets who use it to mislead and abuse their audience deserve critique. However, someone against the idea of the press, with no specific criticism beyond a general disdain for the truth, likely fears and hates the idea of information and connection. To turn the people against the press is to make the right arm distrust the left. One of my first memories from the Trump presidency was hearing the term “alternative facts” used in regards to the number of attendees at his inauguration. Since then, the validity of news according to the president has been exclusively measured by how much it appeals to his ego. I have never, not once, in four years, heard Donald Trump admit that anything negative said about him was correct or apologized without passing the blame or playing his transgression down. This goes beyond the unfair discrediting of a specific organization; Donald Trump has done severe and generational damage to the idea of the truth through the repeated derision of the press and the mass gaslighting of Americans.
Beyond this broad disdain for the truth, I find it hard to talk about Trump’s personal attacks on my brothers, sisters and other siblings of the press without losing my written voice in a sea of anger and grief. I think of Serge F. Kovaleski, a reporter who was mocked by Trump at a rally as the soon-to-be president flailed his arms around in a schoolyard imitation of Kovaleski’s arthrogryposis. I think of Ben Jacobs, a reporter who was assaulted by Republican Representative Greg Gianforte, an event which Trump would later celebrate unequivocally at a rally. I think of the countless women in journalism that Trump has talked over, dismissed, insulted, yelled at and demeaned. And, most recently and most painfully, I think of Jamal Khashoggi, an American journalist who was murdered and dismembered by the order of Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In the interviews recently released by Bob Woodward, Trump said that he personally convinced Congress to stop investigating bin Salman’s involvement, followed by (assuredly unrelated) boasts about the trades he was able to secure with Saudi Arabia.
I know not yet what Joe Biden’s relationship with the press is going to be, but I cannot stand neutral as the president lets my fellow journalists be butchered as not to endanger oil trades.
Brendan Lordan, Editor-in-Chief