Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons) and Donald Trump (AP)
If you’ve been listening to the rhetoric coming from Donald Trump’s campaign, you’d be forgiven for assuming American cities were dystopian wastelands of rioting and violence. In recent weeks, Trump has taken to framing civil unrest as emblematic of Joe Biden’s America despite the fact that these protests are taking place under Trump’s national leadership. Many critics also argue that widespread unemployment, racial divisions, and poorly mismanaged pandemic response fueling protests can be directly attributed to Trump’s penchant for stoking racial divisions, encouraging authoritarian crackdowns, and his incompetent management of crises.
As Trump continues to incite fear of Democratic leadership and encourage conspiracy theories in his bid for re-election, he’s failed to articulate a clear vision for his second term. The glaring absence of a comprehensive Republican policy platform at the RNC was further confirmed by vague comments from Trump in recent interviews that if re-elected, he’ll pursue “more of the same.” Given that recent polling indicated only 13% of Americans are satisfied with the current direction of the country, this doesn’t seem like messaging that will win over already anxious voters.
What exactly does more of the same mean and how does that contrast with the vision for America Democrats unveiled in their DNC platform? After all, as the saying goes, show me your budget and I’ll tell you your priorities. How do the plans Biden has articulated and committed to enact during his presidency contrast with the actions Trump has already taken in his first term on the issues Americans care about?
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A Snapshot Of The Top 5 Issues Concerning Americans: Biden vs. Trump
At Rantt, we’ve already done in-depth coverage of the huge differences between Biden and Trump on issues ranging from climate change to immigration. But to further contrast the platforms of Biden and Trump, we took a look at the top five issues Americans said they cared about the most in an August 2020 Reuters poll. Many of these issues represent shifting priorities as the economy has worsened and the pandemic has taken hold across much of the country. In cases where we were not able to identify an articulated policy stance by the Trump administration or the Biden campaign, we derived conclusions from current policies or public comments.
Scale-up and fund free COVID-19 testing across the country
Funding for medical supplies, overtime pay for essential workers
Establish more testing sites nationwide including a minimum of 10 mobile sites per state
Create national health corp to employ 100,000 contract tracers
National mask mandate
Initially downplayed the threat of COVID-19 and failed to scale up testing
Advocated reopening schools and lifting restrictions against advice from health experts
Threatened to cut off funding to the World Health Organization
Reportedly asked officials to “slow down” testing
Supported the use of hydroxychloroquine deemed by the FDA as an ineffective and potentially dangerous treatment for COVID-19
Funded Operation Warp Speed for potential deployment of a vaccine as early as October after rapid test trials
Government Accountability & Reform
Constitutional amendment to eliminate private dollars from federal elections
Legislation to provide voluntary matching public funds for federal candidates receiving small-dollar donations
Strengthening prohibitions to keep foreign money out of elections
Restricting SuperPACs, ban corporate contributions
End dark money groups, close federal contractor loophole
Require real time disclosure, increase transparency
Impeached for obstruction of Congress and abuse of power
Uses the DOJ to pursue his enemies and protect his friends
Eight of Trump’s associates have been indicted on criminal charges
Repealed the individual mandate resulting in higher premiums in 2019 & 7 million more uninsured
Ended Obamacare cost-sharing reductions
Currently suing to invalidate Obamacare in its entirety
Allowed states to impose work requirements for Medicaid
Passed legislation allowing terminally ill patients to try unapproved drugs by bypassing the FDA
The Rantt Rundown
If, like the majority of Americans, you’re disheartened by the current state of politics and the progress of the country, Trump’s “more of the same” campaign messaging isn’t likely to generate much enthusiasm. However, Biden has painted a clear vision of how America can stage an economic recovery through resilience and expressed faith in our ability to rise to the challenge of this crisis. Biden, often touted as a centrist Democrat, has also embraced more progressive policies in his platform across a wide variety of issues from criminal justice reform to healthcare and education.
While everyone may not agree on Biden’s policies, there’s certainly a lot to sink your teeth into. Substantial twenty-five-page documents filled with specific, detailed policy proposals clearly map a way forward through legislation and bipartisan initiatives. The RNC on the other hand simply rereleased their 2016 platform prefaced with a one-page resolution that reads like a list of petty grievances instead of the vision of a party in power. The choice seems to be clear: substance and substantive change or more of the same chaos and corruption. You decide.
Kaz Weida is a freelance journalist, editor, and photographer. Her areas of expertise include education, gender equality, and all things foodie. You'll find her on Twitter @kazweida, getting into "good" trouble.