When Trump says he loves our democracy, he leaves out a word that more accurately describes what it is that he loves; ” Russian” democracy. His adoration for Putin as a ” strong” leader is a dog- whistle in support of authoritarianism. An autocratic government is defined as; “enforcement or advocacy to strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom.” Trump has made pronouncements such as, “Article II of the Constitution says I can do anything I want” and “the president has absolute power,” and “maybe I can stay in power indefinitely like President Xi in China.” These statements should alert millennials that this election is not about having your favorite candidate win. It is about removing from office the first autocratic president in the history of the United States. He is getting more emboldened as can be seen in his attack on the USPS and vote by mail. He appointed Postmaster Dejoy who is a campaign donor, has no experience with the post office, has destroyed sorting machines, and removed neighborhood mailboxes to suppress the vote. What happens to a democracy when the president is trying to interfere with the access to vote for American citizens?
There are 10,000 American soldiers buried in Normandy, France. These young people stormed Omaha Beach during World War II and fought for the freedoms we enjoy today at the cost of their lives. These Americans were the same age as of today’s millennials when they died. Thankfully, millennials have not had to fight a war. Many have had the good fortune of having parents who sent them to college or trade school, and because they struggle with finding jobs and attaining financial independence, they are also allowed to live at home. So by not exercising our right to vote, we diminish the sacrifices those young Americans who are buried on foreign soil made to protect our democracy.
It is normal during early and middle adolescence to look for a “wow” factor when deciding which issues, movements, and candidates you care about. Wanting to feel excited about getting involved in the issues that affect your life is understandable. The actions we take and the beliefs we hold help us choose what political party, social cause, or ideology will help shape our personal identity. However, Trump and his ideology threaten the protection of individual rights over the Executive Branch’s interests. The alarm bell is ringing. When a president declares his powers as “absolute,” appoints unqualified friends and family members to positions of power to actualize his goals as an autocrat, and makes American adversaries his allies and American allies his enemy’s, democracy is at risk to fail. If these patterns continue for four more years, the America we learned about in school and thought would survive to protect our constitutional rights may end.
Trump’s misuse of executive orders is one of his dangerous autocratic patterns. By bypassing Congress and the Judiciary Branch of government, he can violate the individual rights afforded to us in the Constitution. The tear-gassing of peaceful protestors during the racial injustice demonstrations is an example of how Trump will disregard rights given to individuals in the Constitution if they conflict with his agendas. With Attorney General William Barr’s protection, Trump will be able to act unilaterally with the ultimate power to shape America into his idea of what democracy is, not the image created by the Founding Fathers. With Putin and the Saudi Prince at Trump’s table, America will become a dictatorship whose goal will be to enrich its leaders’ wealth and strip individuals’ of their rights to empower the leaders.
Joe Biden stands for what America is about. He has stated his goal is to preserve our democracy, which Trump is tearing down. He is a statesman with experience, integrity, and compassion. His opening line at the Democratic Convention last week was, “I will work as hard for those who did not vote for me as I will for those who did.” This one simple statement tells us that Biden understands the job of being president. The job is about serving the country and every individual in it. Trump’s view of the job has been to promote himself politically and enrich himself personally, despite the laws he will break, or who may get hurt. Biden has upheld the oath of every office he has held for over 50 years. Trust builds over time when people keep their word and tell the truth.
When was the last time Trump spoke directly to the millennials about the difficult issues they face during this crucial time of COVID? Millennials, the poor, the disabled, and minorities are rarely mentioned in his speeches. These demographic groups are of no interest to him. Policies aimed to help members of these groups will not be a part of the Republican agenda. The majority of millennials seem to dislike Trump and are aware of his low character, lack of competence, and illegal acts. However, if they choose not to vote, Biden and Harris’s chances of winning the election are diminished. This election is defined by the need to save democracy from an autocratic president, protect American lives from the out of control, mismanaged COVID pandemic, and restore decency and respect for the rule of law to America. When Trump hugs the flag and drapes it around his shoulders, he might as well be saying, “my version of patriotism is to use the flag as a prop to fool you into believing the Constitution is safe with me.”
Bernie Sanders spoke at the Democratic National Convention and urged everyone to vote early and to vote for Joe Biden. There are many smart reasons to vote for Joe Biden. His experience and decency are what the country needs during this time of national and global crisis. Sanders also said that the country is in an existential crisis with a president who denies climate change, doesn’t care about racial injustice, creates an economy for the rich, and is not too keen on women’s rights. Voting for Biden is the only way to defeat Trump. If elected, Biden has made it clear that some of the qualified candidates who ran against him will be chosen to fill important positions in his administration. He calls himself a “transitional candidate,” paving the way for the younger generation to govern America with decency, adherence to the Constitution, and intelligence. Many Americans who did not vote in the last election, and whose lives have suffered under Trump, have come forth and admitted having regret for that decision.
Here is hoping the millennials will show their maturity and patriotism and exercise their right to vote and accept the two-party system for now, so Trump can be escorted back to Mar-a-Lago or jail, whichever comes first.