OPINION: Biden’s road ahead

OPINION%3A+Biden%27s+road+ahead

Photo credit/ Autumn Bohner

Emma Rushworth, Opinion Editor

While President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ victory has broken barriers, the problems that facilitated someone like President Donald Trump to hold the highest office in the nation will still plague us. Here’s where we go from here.

We are still in the middle of one of the deadliest pandemics we as a nation have faced in recent history. Every day new, grim records are set in terms of deaths and new cases of COVID-19. Virtually everyone has been affected by the ramifications of the Trump administration’s negligence in responding quickly and efficiently to the needs of the American people during this time. I believe that Biden will listen to scientists and try his best to get the virus under control and to provide relief to those financially impacted by the various shutdowns and changes in business.

However, the damage has already been done, to some effect. Small businesses have closed permanently, there is distrust in the government and the guidelines that have changed a million times, and most importantly, over 250,000 Americans are dead. Implementing a national mask mandate is just step one. Thankfully a vaccine should be available during the first few months of Biden’s first term. However, if cases continue to spike and deaths rise, the dreaded shutdown may need to take place.

The only way that we can beat the pandemic is to follow the lead of others who have, which means restrictive regulations on all of us so we can get back to normal sooner. Ideally, the government would have protection funds in place to alleviate the financial burden a shutdown would have on businesses and citizens alike.

Speaking of global crises, climate change is still at the forefront of pressing issues that the Biden/Harris administration must take head-on. The only way we can rapidly repair the damage done by humans on the earth is to enact a Green New Deal. This would bring our carbon emissions down to net zero, a transition to renewable energy (which would create hundreds of thousands of jobs), and hold corporations accountable for their substantial role in hastening the death of our home. I do have confidence that the Biden administration will take on climate change as one priority but it’s up to us to rally behind drastic measures to ensure a clean tomorrow for the country.

Another popular policy that needs to be championed is the proposal of Medicare for All. Medical debt and lack of access to health insurance that will cover the most basic of needs is not something that one of the wealthiest countries in the world should struggle with. The passage of Obamacare was a start but simply put it isn’t enough. Biden has been hesitant to get on board with Medicare for All during the election, but hopefully, if there is a big enough push, Medicare for All can become a reality to eliminate medical debt and give proper access to healthcare for every American, as is our right.

In the same vein as Medicare for All, another mass issue we face as a nation is the opioid epidemic. Pennsylvania is one state hit hard by the misuse of prescription opiates and the path to stronger drugs like heroin. Drug addiction is a personal issue to Biden as his son Hunter overcame addiction in recent years. I hope that under a Biden presidency we as a society can rethink the way addiction is addressed. Oregon recently took a huge step in the right direction by decriminalizing all drugs so that those who are addicted go to rehabilitation centers instead of prison.

On the thought of prison, this summer saw the biggest conversation on the topic of police brutality, the prison system, and institutionalized racism that our generation has ever seen. While I don’t expect any significant change to occur with a former prosecutor as vice president and a centrist Democrat like Biden in office, we still need to push for reform. Prisons should not be for profit, as the mass incarceration we see in our country is no accident. The over-policing of Black and Brown Americans for lesser crimes than white or wealthy Americans has led to a cycle that many can’t break free of.

Our prisons do not rehabilitate criminals to become better citizens. It does the opposite. Prison life leaves ex-convicts in such bad shape to reacclimate to civilian life that they often willingly commit crimes to go back to prison since that is the only life they have adjusted to. Not only that, but those who commit felonies are stripped of their constitutional right to vote. This is purposefully orchestrated so that the same black and brown Americans who are over-policed and over punished are stripped of voting rights.

The way that we police our citizens, the militarization of our police and the mass incarceration for often small drug offenses is something that needs to be corrected at the top levels of authority in this country. While I am not optimistic any drastic change will occur under a Biden administration, it is still important to fight for those who are oppressed.

The Biden/Harris administration has a lot of potential and a lot of work to do. There are so many issues that they need to repair from the previous administration, like the situation at the border, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, and immigration laws. But the next four years cannot be spent simply fixing what went wrong in the previous four. We have to advocate and fight for a better tomorrow and a brighter future, or we won’t be any better off in four years than we are now.

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Twitter: @e_tww