We Must Hold Joe Biden and Other Presidents Accountable for Progress



David Lienemann via WikimediaCommons

Official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden in his West Wing Office at the White House, Jan. 10, 2013.

Camryn Keller, Staff Writer

It amazes me how, even after everything Donald Trump has done, he still has supporters. Trump is racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, ableist, and in general a horrible person. There are so many different accounts of Trump showcasing these parts of himself, but for some reason, many people are okay with not holding him responsible.  

This election became a fight for our lives and our rights. It became more than whether there would be a change in power or not. Trump staying in power goes against everything America is supposed to stand for. Holding people of influence and power accountable for their actions is our job as citizens. Trump’s actions before he was even a presidential candidate in 2016, like the released Access Hollywood video from 2005, in which he made extremely vulgar misogynistic statements that the Wingspan cannot print,  should have prevented him from becoming president at all. But people excused it when he claimed it was “locker room talk,” as if that should make that kind of ideology okay. 

Unfortunately, people close to us–friends and family–have shown their true colors by their willingness to stand by Trump. Almost everyone I have talked to has had to cut off friends and family because of it. I myself have realized that some family friends that I grew up with are not the people I thought they were. I can’t stand by and associate myself with someone who is willing to let injustices pass and refuses to take a stand against inequality, especially if the actions hurt others and don’t involve you. You shouldn’t either. Being a bystander is being a part of the problem. 

 It is our moral duty to help and take action for the people who can’t. The only thing we have is each other. People needlessly suffer so much because of broken systems. Bigotry should not be allowed to exist, but it does, and groups of people are treated worse because of the differences that exist between them. Turning our back on people in need for our own benefit will lead to our own downfall.     

This is more than a different political opinion. Plenty of people claim that people with different political stances can still be friends and I agree. But at this point, Trump’s harmful actions towards marginalized people can’t be given a pass. Doing so makes you part of the problem. People in power need to be held accountable for their actions, whether that means being removed from office or facing criminal charges with appropriate jail time. Basic human decency as well as acceptance and respect toward others who are living another life than you should be the bare minimum.  

Trump’s supporters seem to put him on a pedestal as we do for celebrities. This made him into someone who can do no wrong. Just talk to any fervent Trump supporter. Most are willing to ignore Trump’s actions because of his business background and his image as a “successful businessman”. They believe that something is getting done and seem to miss that action isn’t always a good thing.  

This type of ideology is dangerous. It keeps a person from applying a critical eye to a person in power. Nearly every problematic action committed by the president or his staff was overlooked and ignored. Many times those actions restrict the rights of marginalized people.   For example, the ban on transgender people in the military or the promise to build a wall based on defamatory and untrue claims about Hispanic immigrants.   

One positive that can be taken from this dumpster fire of a year is that we as a people got Trump out of power. While many of us high school students couldn’t vote, our influence on our family can’t be disregarded. Our protesting made a difference and had an impact on the people around us. Adults all over the country were made aware of our pain in a way that was impossible to ignore. The March for Science and the countless peaceful BLM protests have all been ways we called the problem to attention and make our voices heard. People in power have been forced to take a look at their stance. 

Fighting for people who are being oppressed through protests creates action, shown through the BLM movement. Police Brutality and racist systems are being brought to light and the waves of support are strengthening Black voices. Taking part, whether that be fighting for the stop of climate change or fighting against racism, is what makes an impression on others who can vote and get corrupt politicians out of power. Trump claims that these are violent and aggressive protests, trying to discredit the BLM movement’s message, but most protests really haven’t been violent. He has made his opinion on race very clear.     

The election of Joe Biden is a win for America that should be celebrated. Biden won with 306 electoral college votes and about 80 million individual votes compared to Trump’s 232 electoral college votes and about 75 million votes. This is significant because in the 2016 election Clinton and Trump both had around 60 million votes each. 2020 had a record voter turnout.  Getting Trump out of office was a difficult task that was significantly influenced by the deep divide between both sides.  We also elected the first female vice president, and she is a woman of color. That is a great thing for our country. But we can’t get too lax. 

Now that Biden will become President in January, we can’t let him get away with problematic actions or decisions. He must be held accountable if he is complicit in the same ways Trump is. He will make mistakes; they are bound to happen. I fear that many people will let negative actions slide because the bar Trump set previously is so obnoxiously low. Most politicians will and can do a better job than Trump did because of general experience, but that does not mean they are absolved of the consequences of their actions. 

Biden has sexual assault allegations against him, (but fewer than Trump). No amount of sexual assault allegations are acceptable and it is horrible that we have to compare numbers like that.  These allegations need to be looked into more. There have been considerable changes in Biden’s stances on many topics, such as immigration and LGBTQ+ rights.  In the past, Biden passed legislation that restricted the rights of the Queer community, but as Vice President to Obama, he helped get same-sex marriage legalized. He now claims to be an ally and wants to undo the harmful actions of Trump.  

In the past, Biden helped create a crime bill that has been accused of increasing mass incarceration rates that especially impacted people of color.  He now admits that the support of the 1994 crime bill was a mistake on his end. All of this is to say that Biden may have grown and changed a lot over time. A lot of his negative and harmful opinions seem to have shifted to a more positive place. One thing that sticks out to me is that he admits that he misstepped and hurt vulnerable people, unlike Trump. He still has his faults, but he has made an effort to change himself. I believe we need to give people the chance to grow and evolve. Many times harmful opinions are the result of upbringing and misinformation. 

We should, however, treat these conflicting actions with cautious positivity.  He’s made promises, just like every politician does, and we as a people need to hold him accountable and see if his future actions match his claims. I do think he has done enough for now. That is subject to change depending on his actions and whether he takes accountability for his actions. When the time for action comes, that is where we will see true colors. 

It is a difficult truth to accept, but as we have seen through the many years of human existence, power, money, and influence change a person for the worse. It is going to be a constant process that will need a critical eye and an open mind, especially with the damage the United States has suffered over the last year  

Having someone in power that we fought so hard for might make him an idol in many people’s eyes. We must not do this. Idolizing a politician is a terrible misstep and part of the reason we are in the mess we are now. Biden will inevitably be better than Trump, but we as a people must remember that being better than the bare minimum is not enough. A president should be someone we are proud of and someone other countries can respect. We need a champion of equality, someone who takes action. As president, just being an ally isn’t enough.  America should not settle for the bare minimum.