OPINION: These Are The Stakes

Dash Kostka, ACC Student and Political writer for his site The Dash Files, argues for the importance of a win for the Democratic party in the upcoming 2024 presidential election. He says, “We can either choose to preserve our democracy by re-electing Joe Biden, or can choose to end it by allowing Donald Trump to win.”

By Dash Kostka

This November, the voters of the United States, the oldest living democratic republic on earth, will head to the polls to decide whether to extend the lease on their nation’s constitution, its guarantees of freedom, and its promise of the rule of law – or to instead plunge the very foundations of our republic itself into the dark by electing Donald Trump to a second term as President of the United States. The drastic consequences that will result from your vote, or your choice to not vote, will far outlive just the next four years.

The Threat of a Second Trump Term

Nothing about this election can be treated like it’s normal. We cannot sit back and ignore the fact that the Republican nominee for President was impeached for attempting to extort the President of Ukraine and for inciting insurrectionists to attempt a coup at the United States Capitol to steal an election he lost. We cannot act like it’s okay that Trump is under indictment for 85 felonies, which include alleged criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States, deliberate mishandling and dissemination of classified documents, racketeering, and falsification of business records. And don’t forget he’s been found civilly liable for sexual abuse, defamation, and fraud.

We should all be reminded: Donald Trump was a really bad president. And if elected again, his top priorities will include unfunded tax cuts for the wealthy, a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, appointing hundreds of right-wing judges who will annihilate abortion rights, and abandoning NATO. He’ll also pursue a psychopathic agenda called Project 2025, which includes creating internment camps for deporting 13 million Latinos, systematic targeting and imprisonment of journalists, appointing special prosecutors to arrest his political opponents, banning abortion pills nationwide, deploying the military to shut down protests, revoking broadcast licenses for news networks that criticize him, instituting a national ban on pornography, as well as banning parental surrogacy and no-fault divorce.

Furthermore, if Trump wins, it’ll likely render him totally immune from prosecution for his 85 criminal indictments. The Supreme Court might also allow Trump to pardon himself of his federal crimes. He would, by definition, become a King. If there’s any greater threat to American democracy than this, I cannot think of one.

A Uniquely Dangerous Man

Donald Trump wants to incinerate the Constitution and lay waste to the rule of law because you, the American voter, are the only thing standing in his way. He tried to end American democracy on January 6th, and he’s trying to do it again. We all saw it with our own eyes. You cannot be a populist who wants to supposedly “fix the system” if you only love democracy when you win. Trump’s true interests are neither with repairing America’s institutions, nor to actually “Make America Great Again.” It’s all a big lie.

There’s a reason Trump believes the rules shouldn’t apply to him – and why he’ll govern like a mobster. He’s the toxic byproduct of a nation that has for multiple generations rewarded wealth and privilege while simultaneously diminishing the value of hard work and merit. Trump believes in perpetuating the darkest side of American greed and inequality – what Martin Luther King called the “two Americas” – where oligarchs bask in their inexhaustible quantities of wealth and affluence, while “millions of work-starved men walk the streets daily in search for jobs that do not exist” and parents are denied the help they need to raise a family because Republicans needed the money to cut taxes for multinational corporations. 

Trump contributes to our country nothing but fraud and grift. What kind of “billionaire” begs his supporters to buy $60 “God-Bless-the-USA endorsed Bibles” or those ridiculous $200 gold “Trump sneakers.” It’s a joke! This is a man who scammed thousands by convincing people to attend his fake college, Trump University, and had to declare bankruptcy four times for his failed Atlantic City casinos. Ask yourself, how incompetent must you be to lose money running a casino?

Billionaires like Trump who’ve never experienced an inkling of financial hardship believe they’re entitled to certain rights that ordinary people like you are not. He thinks he’s a better person than you because his name is on a couple of skyscrapers and his Schwab account is bigger than yours. And that’s why he’ll spend his presidency cutting taxes for people like himself, while accomplishing nothing to improve your way of life. Trump thinks that because his face was on reality television, and yours wasn’t, that his opinions and worldview are inherently more valid than yours. And that is why, should he win re-election, he’ll make his entire second term about himself. 

If you’re among the millions of people in this great melting pot of a nation who don’t conform to the sinister identity requirements to be a first class citizen of Donald Trump’s America – if you don’t have white skin, or you aren’t male, straight, cisgender, a natural-born citizen, or Christian, there will be nowhere to hide if he wins. Trump believes you’re “poisoning the blood of our country,” and that’s why his original slogan, “Make America Great Again,” has never changed: His campaign has always been driven by fear and resentment in the fact that America no longer belongs to a select few, and that you, this nation’s new diverse generation, have an equal shot at attaining freedom, civil rights, and the pursuit of happiness. 

Joe Biden for President

In October of 2020, the New York Times endorsed Joe Biden for President, stating that “[i]n the midst of unrelenting chaos, Mr. Biden is offering an anxious, exhausted nation something beyond policy or ideology. His campaign is rooted in steadiness, experience, compassion and decency.” They endorsed him because he would “embrace the rule of law,” “return a respect for science and expertise to the government,” “stand with America’s allies,” “work to address systemic injustices,” and “would not court foreign autocrats or give comfort to white supremacists.” By this metric set in 2020, Biden has met the mark. And yes – we are better off than we were four years ago:

When President Biden took the oath of office in January 2021 on the steps of the Capitol, its interior was still being repaired from the January 6th coup, and its exterior was littered with 400,000 American flags marking those lost to COVID-19. There was no darker time in American history besides the prelude to the Civil War that a president entered office. Yet, during this dire moment, Biden’s leadership shined. With the freshly-minted COVID-19 vaccine coming online, he promised to deliver 100 million shots within 100 days. He did it in 58, while in the meantime ushering $1.9 trillion in badly needed stimulus for the economy.

When Biden faced inevitable setbacks, such as COVID variants or inflation, he responded by doing something about them. With the help of congressional Democrats, he signed into law the largest investment in public infrastructure since the 1950s, the first major gun control bill since the 1990s, hundreds of billions in new funding for manufacturing semiconductors and microchips, allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of prescriptions, capping the price of insulin to $35 a month, and investing billions to fighting climate change, which is estimated to cut carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. I understand that not everything is perfect – interest rates are high and groceries cost too much. But after four years of things getting better, where unemployment is at 50-year lows, inflation is falling, crime is down, and wages are up – let’s build on the progress instead of handing the reins to a psychopath.

Illustrations by Ruby Krimstein

Yes, our 46th president is really old, but what matters infinitely more is the age of his ideas. I’d rather have an elderly President who believes in the basic human rights and constitutional protections for gay people to marry and attain employment, for women to obtain safe and legal abortions, and for racial minorities to earn equal status in society – than to elect a (barely) younger candidate who wants to take American society back to the 1950s. 

Quoting David Sedaris of The New Yorker to put this year’s choice between President Biden and criminal defendant Trump in perspective, “I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. ‘Can I interest you in the chicken?’ she asks. ‘Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?’ To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.” To ponder a third-party candidate who cannot win is to let millions of Americans choose the platter for you. “I mean, really, what’s to be confused about?”

Vote for President Biden on November 5. The stakes are too high for you to stay home.