The election is just four days away and this will be the last pre-election post that Jeff and I will likely be doing. We were pondering what our final words to you should be, what one last thought we wanted to leave you with before this momentous election. The one thing that weighs heavily on all of our minds is what our country will look like four years from now, for we are at a turning point in many areas and how we respond going forward to such things as the pandemic, climate change, income disparity, healthcare and more will have a dramatic effect on whether this nation thrives or fails in the coming years.
With that in mind, we want to leave you with our thoughts on what the U.S. will be in four years under each of the candidates for the presidency. We will not engage in hyperbole or wild fantasies but will try to imagine in our own minds what each of these candidates will realistically be able to accomplish … or destroy.
2024 Under Donald Trump
It’s 2024 and Donald Trump has now been president for seven years and a few months. At the beginning of his second term, back in 2021, the pandemic ravaged the nation. With more than one million dead by the end of 2021, there was not a single family that hadn’t suffered the loss of a loved one. Worse yet, the job market tanked as most every state, with the exception of Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas imposed strict lockdown measures in order to try to save lives. Chaos reigned, especially in the cities where bands of gun-toting marauders roamed the streets, making it unsafe for people to go about their business. Fortunately, by the summer of 2022, a reliable, safe vaccine had been widely distributed and the pandemic was downgraded, with fewer and fewer people becoming ill. Although the vaccine was created and manufactured at Oxford University in England, Donald Trump took full credit and told us we should get on our knees and thank him.
So many things have gone seriously wrong in these past four years that I don’t know where to begin. It’s almost impossible to remember when the EU, UK, Canada, Australia and many other countries were our allies, and there was mutual respect between us. Today, it’s safe to say that no nation on the planet respects the U.S. Trump’s foreign policy is non-existent and changes on a day-by-day basis. The only constants are that he is on the friendliest terms with Russia’s Putin, Brazil’s Bolsonaro, North Korea’s Kim Jong un, and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman … all of whom are autocratic, despicable leaders. Our former allies watch us closely with suspicious eyes and there has been talk of a wide-scale full trade embargo if we do not take drastic steps to reduce our carbon emissions, as well as plastic waste. Trump, meanwhile, scoffs and like a schoolboy, taunts the European leaders. There will be a price to pay … one that we will all pay — are already paying.
As a result of Trump’s trade deals and ridiculous tariffs, our cost of living has increased significantly … a trip to the grocery store is now approximately 40% higher than it was four short years ago … and yet wages have barely risen in most industries. Time and time again, Trump has refused to sign into law a $15 an hour federal minimum wage law, and today the federal minimum wage remains stagnant at $7.25 an hour, as it has been since July 24, 2009 – some fifteen years! In 2020, nearly 46 million people in this country lived below the poverty level. Today, that number has nearly doubled to 89 million people, with women who are single parents being hit the hardest.
Perhaps the most heart-breaking thing over the past four years is the way in which Trump has openly promoted racism and other forms of bigotry. While he still has managed to build only a few miles of the abominable wall he promised 8 years ago, immigrants have largely stopped trying to come to this country, for in 2021 ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) shot and killed hundreds of asylum seekers attempting to cross the border between the U.S. and Mexico. This they did with Trump’s approval, and though lawsuits were filed, while some courts found ICE guilty, the Supreme Court, now with a 7-2 conservative bench since the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer, ruled that ICE was only doing their job. Police departments across the nation are aware that there will be no repercussions for harassing people of colour and immigrants. Last year in Portland, Oregon, a gang of white supremacist thugs murdered eight Black men on their way home from a bachelor’s party and last week, every one of the white supremacist murderers were awarded a ‘not guilty’ verdict.
The suicide rate last year doubled from just a decade ago, and such things as drug use and alcoholism are, according to the experts, at an all-time high, not surprisingly. People are tired, they are hungry, they are struggling just to put food on the table, while the wealthy corporate executives now pay almost no taxes, and Trump has undermined such social programs as housing assistance, medical assistance and food stamps such that many see no alternative but death. Today, Social Security … the government-mandated pension plan we all paid into for our entire lives, is on the Supreme Court chopping block, leaving seniors wondering how they can survive.
The day that Trump was re-elected in 2020 was the darkest day in this nation’s history, and the darkness has not yet lifted … won’t lift until he … and his family … are out of office.
2024 Under Joe Biden
Well, here we are … another election year. Joe Biden has been president for just over three years now, and overall, I believe the nation is better today than it was four years ago. The first two years of his administration were rocky, mainly because it was a time of trying to reverse course from the Trump years, and so many who had given Trump their support tried to throw every possible obstacle up in front of Biden’s attempts to repair the damage.
I well remember the winter of 2021 when Biden ordered the shutting of non-essential businesses for a period of 60 days in order to try to reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. There were riots in the street, people claiming their ‘rights’ had been violated, and every day Trump was on Fox News, further stirring the masses. But, Biden’s plan ultimately worked, and by the end of March, new cases were less than 100 per day, and deaths were down to 20-30 per day. The masses began to see that there was method to the madness.
And then the great fossil fuel debate, after Biden almost immediately re-joined the Paris Climate Accords, setting off the oil, gas, and coal companies. But, by early last year, there were far more jobs available in the renewable energy fields than there had been in 2019 in the fossil fuel industry, and even the most devoted climate deniers had to admit that this was a win-win. Not, of course, before windmills and a couple of solar energy facilities were blown up by said activists, but even that didn’t stop us from moving forward.
We still haven’t quite managed a Universal Health Care plan, but we’re a step or two closer than we were four, or even eight years ago. Joe Biden did as he had promised, built on the Affordable Care Act that had been established under President Obama, made sure that nobody could be denied health insurance at an affordable rate, and that nobody would be left out due to a pre-existing condition such as heart problems, diabetes, chronic lung problems or any other condition. Prescription drugs are still more expensive than in most other countries, but the costs are coming down, slowly but surely. I believe that in the next four years, if Biden is given a second term, we will achieve something very close to Universal Health Care, but I am not holding my breath.
As we feared four years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court did, in fact, overturn Roe v Wade and women’s rights took a hit. However, 42 of the 50 states have passed laws allowing a woman to have an abortion up to 22 weeks into her pregnancy in most cases, which has taken the teeth out of the Supreme Court reversal. On a brighter note, though they tried, the Court was unable to overturn Obergefell v Hodges, and same-sex marriages are still legal under federal law. Unfortunately, the evangelical churches continue to stir antagonism against the LGBT community.
In addition to re-joining the Paris Climate Accords, President Biden has invested a great deal of time in becoming more involved in the United Nations and NATO, has re-joined the World Health Organization (WHO), and has brought the U.S. back into the Iran nuclear agreement, although by this time, Iran had already increased its supply of plutonium and was well into the testing stages of their nuclear program. Most importantly, though, President Biden has reassured our allies that we consider them to be highly valued friends, and he has taken steps to ensure that Russia and other countries will not have access to programs that would enable them to interfere with this year’s election. Although, since Vladimir Putin’s assassination last year, Russia has been less concerned with our affairs.
Mind you, everything hasn’t been a bed of roses. The first two years were rocky, to say the least, and it wasn’t easy for President Biden to earn the trust of the people of this nation, particularly those who still felt cheated and left out by our government, those who had blindly supported Donald Trump and his loss felt as if the rug had been pulled out from underneath their feet. But Biden didn’t give up, he kept his promises, he truly represented ALL of the people, not just democrats or republicans, but all of us. By his third year, people were getting used to his sometimes-hesitant speech, to his infamous opening line, “Now here’s the thing …” People were starting to see that with the new federal minimum wage of $15 per hour they had more money left over at the end of the pay cycle, were even able to save some for a rainy day. They were grateful to be able to take their child to the doctor without worrying about how to pay. And, they were grateful, whether they admitted it or not, for the peace, the lack of chaos. There has been very little turnover in this administration, agencies like the EPA and Health & Human Services have been brought back to do the job they were initially intended to do. Domestic terror events have decreased, though groups like the Proud Boys and other white supremacist groups are still around, but just not as prevalent since this administration has taken domestic terrorism threats very seriously.
Racism is still with us, and perhaps it always will be. The number of racist incidents by police has been reduced since the Biden administration’s renewed efforts to screen and train police officers around the country, however just last month a black teen was shot and killed by police in Dallas, Texas, as he was walking home from a high school sporting event after dark. The officer was immediately terminated and now awaits trial.
Four years ago, when Joe Biden was elected, I think we had hopes that the rifts, the things that divide us … democrat vs republican … would heal quickly, but sadly they have not. They are healing, but ever so slowly. There are those who would still welcome Trump and his plans to build a wall, and they are among the most vocal of all. And there are those among the democratic ranks who haven’t forgotten Trump and all the damage he inflicted on this nation … in fact, I think it’s safe to say that this nation is still very much divided by Trump and his radical views almost as much today as we were four years ago.
I’d like to say that this has returned to being a nation I could look at with pride, but it has not. I wonder if it ever will? Yes, things are better today, at least in the view of the majority of us, but I feel that there is always a threat out there, that disaster is always just a day away. I’m not sure this nation can ever heal completely.
This concludes mine and Jeff’s project. We hope that what we’ve done over the past 10 months has helped clarify some of the issues, the candidates’ positions, and the importance of this election. Just four more days, though the results may not be known for another week, possibly even two. Thanks for bearing with us, for joining in our conversation, and I hope that we all get our wish next week.