Writer: Liam McCarthy
Edited By: Jake Donohoe
Coronavirus, Covid-19, the “Chinese Virus” is the only thing you hear about when you turn on the news. However, as we continue to fight this pandemic by staying home, distancing ourselves from others, and taking precautions when outside, we have to look forward. With an election coming up that will possibly overlap with the time frame of this pandemic, it’s important to see how the process of our presidential election could be affected, and the changes that candidates have made to their messages, actions, and demeanor as a result of the virus and the government’s role in this crisis.
The election process is one of the most fundamental things our country was built on. With no fair election, there is no possible way to run a working democracy. However, when voters in Wisconsin’s primary election opted to wait in line instead of vote by mail on April 7th, reports show that many could have contracted COVID-19 in the process (source). Yet 70% of Wisconsin was able to vote by mail, and as of 2020, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Hawaii conduct their elections entirely by mail. Voting entirely by mail seems like the best possible option, however it comes with many problems as well. It is already incredibly hard to motivate the population into voting, so compounding that by removing arguably the more engaging and participatory side of voting could greatly reduce the overall representation of our next election. The other alternative is postponing the election, should COVID-19 still be a problem, however, this further complicates things, since leaving the current President in power would be highly polarizing in a time like this.
Polarization of our political discourse has been an ongoing problem, and COVID-19 has only seemed to accelerate this process. President Donald Trump has been at the epicenter of much of this coronavirus controversy. He has even taken non-traditional approaches to how his administration deals with this crisis. Government giving people money has often been a big point of resistance for most Republican politicians, however many congresspeople, as well as Donald Trump himself, have endorsed and tried to speed up the process of distributing these so-called “Stimulus Checks” to the people. This can win him favor with both big players in our economy, who are held afloat by customers having money to spend on their products, and the people hit hardest by the reaction to the pandemic, the people who have lost their only source of income. However, not everything Trump has done has made the majority of people happy, as many Democratic politicians have criticized him for his slow reaction to the virus, seemingly in attempts to not destroy the economy he has bragged so much about. This is where the polarization problem shines through once again, as Trump and many of his supporters argue that his reaction has been effective and swift, while still keeping the economy afloat. Trump’s main opponent, Vice President Joe Biden, has stayed relatively quiet about this crisis, at least in comparison, yet some polls suggest that the majority of Americans would rather have him handling the situation than the current President. Regardless, in these confusing and unprecedented times, it is important to know all of your facts, and especially important to vote, because we cannot let a hardship like this ruin our democracy.