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2020 vs. 2016: What’s Different? What Makes This Election Even More Important?

The night of the election of 2016, I remember anxiously awaiting the results, and being absolutely devastated and extremely confused when Donald J. Trump had won. Now in 2020, with Trump vying for re-election, I am exponentially more devastated and confused. This election is arguably the most important in modern U.S. history, and the fate of many issues depend on the results. 

Photo by Tiffany Tertipes on Unsplash

Today, the nation looks vastly different than it did in 2016: a global pandemic that is seemingly never-ending (particularly in the U.S.), the Black Lives Matter movement gaining mainstream popularity as systemic racism and its effects continue to this day, and climate change wreaking havoc throughout our country and globe.

Many would respond to these issues by simply blasting the song F2020 by Avenue Beat, blaming this year for the problems the human race and particularly Americans have caused. Despite the fact that F2020 is a brilliant song that should be streamed over and over again, this is not the appropriate reaction. The suitable action to take if these issues anger you is to have your voice heard by voting, signing petitions, protesting, or exercising some other form of civil action. Although the problems I listed above (with the exception of the pandemic) were extremely real in 2016, it is even more apparent now in 2020 that these are vital to address.

In 2016 Black Lives Matter did play a role in the election, with activists showing up at Town Halls and events. However, their actions were described in CNN as, “[t]he activists are emerging as a wild card on the 2016 presidential stump, popping up at rallies and town halls, threatening to derail carefully crafted events.” In 2020, BLM is far from a “wild card” that pops up occasionally; it is seemingly a pillar of the Democratic platform. The Democratic National Convention was largely centered around racial justice. Although this was seen by many as “empty promises” and exploiting Black issues to gain votes, it is still a drastic change from 2016. Alicia Garza, a co-founder of the BLM movement, described the recent actions of democratic leaders by saying, “[i]t took seven years for Democrats to articulate that Black Lives Matter. Now, the country is watching to see if and how they will close the gap between symbolism and substance.” 

black lives matter protest signs
Photo by Obi Onyeador from Unsplash

Regardless of the fact that the new focus of the Democratic Party on BLM could simply be a maneuver for votes it is important to recognize the change in their stance and ask why. In the past four years Donald Trump has displayed a clearly racist mindset, calling white supremacists “fine people” when commenting on the events in Charlottesville and encouraging birther theories for former President Obama and potential Vice President Kamala Harris. The difference between this election and 2016 is that now there is a blatant racist holding the “highest office in the land,” making Black Lives Matter even more vital as a push towards greater equality; thus making it a more mainstream accepted movement. 

The next pressing issue of the 2020 election is climate change. This problem is becoming increasingly important and noticeable because it is an evolving issue that has gotten worse since 2016. In recent years the effects of climate change have become more and more dangerous, consequently making climate activism even more important. In addition to the ever changing nature of this issue, the problem has become worse due to many politicians denying the fact that it exists at all. In a recent interview, President Trump responded to the Natural Resources Agency Secretary’s urge for action on climate change by saying, “I don’t think science knows, actually.” Climate change is an extremely pressing and rapidly worsening issue, and four more years of denial will not save the planet. 

Climate Change protest
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Perhaps the most obvious difference between this election year and 2016  is the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic threatens every part of our nation: it has taken over 200,000 American lives, closed businesses for weeks propelling us into a recession, and increased inequality in education which will have lasting consequences for generations. Donald Trump underplayed the magnitude of COVID-19 and has been denying the importance of masks since the pandemic has begun. If serious action is not taken to help the United States with COVID, including  quick movement and administration of a vaccine whenever it is formulated and safe for distribution, the pandemic will continue devastating our economy and our way of life.

It is important to note that these three issues are not the only changes from 2016 to now, with womxn’s issues at the forefront of discussion, along with immigration and many other pressing problems in the U.S. With the importance of these issues combined, it is apparent that this election is extremely important and vital to the state of this nation. If these issues anger you; vote! Your vote could decide the replacement of Ruth Bader Ginsburg dictating the supreme court for decades. Your vote will also decide how Covid-19 and possible future pandemics are handled. Your vote will be a decision towards imperative Presidential cabinet members such as the Secretary of State, Attorney General, Secretary of Education, and Secretary of Defense. Voting is not purely a decision between Joe Biden and Donald Trump but means much much more, especially this year.

Original Illustration Created in Canva for Her Campus Media

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Photos: Her Campus Media

Jordyn Habib

American '24

Jordyn is in her second year at American University double majoring in CLEG and Arab World Studies. She writes about anything in terms of politics, DC news and history, as well as pop culture. She is also a section editor for Her Campus and involved with American's high school model UN conference.
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