Arielle Fischer, features editor
It has been just over a year since the 2020 election between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Some might argue this most recent presidential election was among the most nail-biting and polarized elections in history. From all sides of the political spectrum, there was speculation of fraud as well as protests against certain leadership. Now, a year later, many things in America have changed as a result of the election and all the trials that came with it.
Sophomore Class President, Hunter Perez spoke on the extent of the 2020 election’s impact, as well as some of the changes that have occurred since Biden’s election.
“The 2020 election greatly changed politics and elections in America,” Perez said. “It’s never been this much unethical cutthroat in politics. To be fair, it has always been cutthroat, but now it feels like a game between the sides.”
Perez added that changes in political, social and economic realms come with every new wave of presidency, regardless of who is in office and who is in the Cabinet. Likewise, Perez said that some changes to American life are not instant, especially larger campaign promises, so some potential changes during Biden’s presidency may need time to unfold.
One of the biggest expectations for Biden since the election has been for him to improve of civil equality and social justice among all people and identities. Perez said this concern and how it has transpired over the past year.
“I cannot say specifically that social justice has been improved,” Perez said. “But I can tell you, the awareness has improved, and the understanding that it’s a topic we need to have and discuss has improved.
Another concern in the U.S. presidency has been COVID-19 and how the virus has been handled since the outbreak. Perez said that there isn’t a guide to handle a crisis as big as the pandemic the world has faced this past year. Because there isn’t a handbook on COVID-19, Perez believes there is no way of knowing if the situation will get better or worse, for people won’t know the outcome until they’ve gotten to it. Perez also said that whoever is in office can only try to the best of their ability to combat such a huge global problem.
Since Biden’s election, there have been extensive changes in social, economic and political aspects of American life. However, some may argue that certain changes may have been more effective than others.
“Financially, the changes can be taken both ways,” Perez said. “Some people were given much needed support; however, in some aspects, the funding was being taken away from things it could’ve been used for. The eviction moratorium was good for some people, however, it was negative for homeowners. Also, the stopping of student loan payments was good for the individuals, but not necessarily good for the companies and colleges. Socially, people have been more aware of the lives of those around them, but the negative effect has been the ‘cutthroatedness’ of the sides. We haven’t attempted to bring back civility.”
Perez said he feels that Biden has achieved some smaller promises from his campaign, for with all the problems going on in America, small, manageable victories are still victories. Perez emphasized that while Biden’s presidency may not have achieved all that was promised in the realm of social equality, Biden has certainly brought acknowledgment to the subject matter. Also, Perez said that Biden kept his promise to bring women and minorities into authoritative and Cabinet positions.
Eric Sands, an assistant professor of political science, shared his input on the past year since Biden’s 2020 election and what the most noticeable changes have been.
Unlike Perez, Sands believes that there have not been many changes to elections and politics since Biden’s win.
“In 2020, we were a highly polarized electorate who had very different views on what we wanted out of government and the limits of what we thought the government should be able to accomplish, or need to accomplish,” Sands said. “I personally think the election exacerbated that division and divisiveness. The divisiveness is so extreme that the opposing party is coming out swinging from day one, trying to block what the majority party wants to do. But nothing we’re seeing is really ‘new,’ these kinds of things have happened before in elections and after them.”
Sands said that speculation of voting fraud was irrelevant, purely because there isn’t substantial evidence to prove anything more than small concerns. To some degree, there is always fraud in every election, and nothing will likely change in upcoming races, according to Sands. He said that people don’t want elections framed by illegitimacy, and that no partisanship should develop the mentality that the other party is trying to steal the election for their own.
“Socially, there has been a huge cultural divide about vaccines and vaccine mandates,” Sands said. “Some people are losing their jobs over vaccines. On one side, you have the anti-vaxxers who don’t want to be forced to take something they’re suspicious about, wherever those suspicions may come from. Then you have people who are anti-mandate, but pro-vaccination. People try to make this out like it’s purely following party lines, but I don’t think that’s true, I think it’s crossing party lines in a couple of instances, especially on the mandates and their enforcement.”
Sands said that since Biden was inaugurated, economically, the country has fallen a few notches, with rising inflation and average prices increasing. While there is economic growth, supply chain issues are having a detrimental effect on the overall economy. However, Sands clarified that he doesn’t believe this is purely Biden’s fault and a lot of factors are involved in making up the financial state of the country.
“I think the whole social justice movement has been forgotten since Biden took office,” Sands said. “Nobody is paying attention to social justice and especially the Black Lives Matter movement at the moment. I feel like a significant occurrence could trigger popular passions again. But so far, things have been relatively quiet compared to how they were two years ago.”
Similar to Perez, Sands said that, in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, there aren’t any instructions on how to handle such a crisis. Because people haven’t handled this big of a crisis since the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1920, Sands said the COVID-19 virus is hard to evaluate. Sands said that regardless of measures taken, people are still dying, and politics have unfortunately been worked into this pandemic to make one president look worse than the other and vice versa. Sands argues that there isn’t much Biden could’ve done differently, given the circumstances. Sands also believes that Biden’s promised achievements have mostly not been accomplished yet.
“Biden hasn’t come near to delivering on his campaign promises, but very few presidents do,” Sands said. “It’s a very hard thing to pull off. Lots are going to hinge on the legislation before Congress and whether it gets stripped or blocked.”
Sands said that opposing partisanships seeing each other as “mortal enemies” is a tragedy. Sands added that anytime each side makes an argument about the other, it is automatically filled with assumptions and accusations that are not always true. Sands said that if the parties were to recognize that neither is trying to “hijack America” or alter the Constitution, then all they are left with are just differences in how the government is perceived and what governments should pursue, and it is okay to disagree.
According to both Perez and Sands, the 2020 election, and the events leading up to it were among the most polarized and openly disagreed upon in history. Nevertheless, while they may have disagreed in some respects, Perez and Sands agreed that reflecting on difficult times and past concerns is crucial for making any sort of improvement in the present, even more so for the American government.