United by Pride: A Policy Review

51 years ago, Pride Month began as a protest against wrongful police actions against the LGBTQ+ community on the steps of the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Although significant gains have been made for the visibility and civil rights for the LGBTQ+ community, Pride Month remains a protest more than ever under the Trump Administration. President Trump continued to fight against critical health care access for the LGBTQ+ community, denied transgender people the right to serve our country, allowed adoption agencies to turn away caring same-sex couples, and has perpetuated the homelessness crisis in the LGBTQ+ community by allowing federal funding to go to shelters that refuse to help the community. It is clear that the work for the LGBTQ+ community does not stop at the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges and Altitude Express v. Zarda Supreme Court cases, which protect marriage equality and employment for LGBTQ+ people at the federal level. With Republicans still bent on rolling back some of the most significant civil rights gains for the LGBTQ+ community as provided by the Supreme Court, it is on Democrats to craft a policy response that addresses the needs of the community. We deserve and require a president who is willing to lead on policy that acknowledges the intersectional aspects of the LGBTQ+ experience. The Biden War Room will review some of what we feel are the most important policy proposals that Vice President Joe Biden has laid forth on his website (full text can be read here). Vice President Biden will help restore and bolster legislation and policies that address the needs of the LGBTQ+ community at every step of their lives. Our education system must do better by our LGBTQ+ students because so many of our valuable students are being left behind due to their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. LGBTQ+ students, and especially LGBTQ+ students of color, transgender students, and LGBTQ+ students with disabilities, are more likely than their non-LGBTQ+ peers to receive detentions, suspensions, and expulsions from school, often as a result of discrimination and harassment. The Biden Administration would not only investigate these discriminatory disciplinary practices, but address the root causes of this issue by passing the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which would require school districts to update their bullying and harassment policies. Additionally the Biden Administration would reinstate the Obama-Biden guidance to require that federally funded schools to prohibit harassment against LGBTQ+ students.  It is also an unfortunate reality that LGBTQ+ discrimination affects our seniors in a unique way as well. SAGE, an organization that advocates for the rights of LGBTQ+ seniors, has thoroughly documented the issues facing over 3 million LGBTQ+ seniors in healthcare, housing, and employment. The Biden Administration would help pass the Ruth and Connie LBGT Elder Americans Act to ensure that all of our seniors are protected by the Older Americans Act of 1965. Vice President Biden will also work towards policies that speak to the realities that LGBTQ+ people face alongside other aspects of their identities. Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies that speaks to multiple facets of inequity in the United States is the high rate of violence against Black transgender women. Alongside measures that would address LGBTQ+ homelessness and violence through legally protecting LGBTQ+ people in housing and employment, the Biden Administration would acknowledge and investigate anti-transgender violence through the LGBTQ Essential Data Act. This legislation would help illuminate the rate of violence against the LGBTQ+ community and help address the factors that lead to this violence through continued legislation. Another segment of the LGBTQ+ community that has been under attack are refugees and asylum-seekers, often people of color, who look to the United States as a place for legal and social freedom. The Trump Administration has prevented asylum seekers from entering the United States before their hearings and has turned down countless individuals from seeking refuge here if they are being targeted by anti-LGBTQ+ laws and violence in their countries of origin. The Biden Administration promises to allow migrants to live in dignity instead of detention, facilitating things like doctor visits, social services, and school enrollment for children, which is far less expensive and far more effective than criminalizing the act of seeking a better life and future for one’s self and family. However, legal protections for the LGBTQ+ community are only one part of the equation for Vice President Biden’s policy plan. Nobody can thrive without good health. As of June 12, 2020, the Trump Administration has quietly rolled back non-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community under the Affordable Care Act as people in the United States and abroad suffer under COVID-19 and protest against systemic racism. We not only need to restore these protections, but take greater action for the health of the LGBTQ+ community. The Biden Administration will work to enact the Therapeutic Fraud Protection Act, which would ban scientifically fraudulent and harmful “conversion therapy” that aims to erase the LGBTQ+ community. Vice President Biden will also work towards ensuring that transgender and nonbinary people have coverage for gender confirming healthcare services and ensure that health care plans cover PrEP and PEP medication (and necessary follow-up lab services for these medications) so that lives will not only be saved, but be sustained as well. Biden will revoke Trump’s restrictions on Title X of the Public Health Service Act and restore funding to Planned Parenthood, so that vital services for reproductive healthcare, cancer prevention, HIV testing, and hormone therapies can resume for underserved communities. When multiple facets of the LGBTQ+ experience are addressed through policy, our government does its job in ensuring all of its citizens are able to fully enjoy what our country has to offer. No one should be denied the pursuit of happiness based on who they love or how they express themselves. Vice President Biden will ensure that the rights of the LGBTQ+ people of every background are protected and bolstered so we can all be equal participants in our democratic society. This work cannot be done under four more years of an administration hellbent on quietly removing protections for the LGBTQ+ community, so be sure to sign up for the LGBTQ+ for Biden Team to play your part in defeating President Trump this November.

Finding Myself and Finding an Ally in Joe Biden

In an ideal world, no one should have to live their life in a closet. Rather, people would be able to live happily and be themselves. Vice President Biden said it best - “Every human being should be treated with respect and dignity and be able to live without fear no matter who they are or who they love.”However, that simply is not the case for LGBTQ+ people in Trump’s America.First and foremost: I am a gay transgender man. It still seems hard to say, or in this case type, because I am basically revealing my longest and best kept secret. I’ve only started to accept this as a fact last year; it is not something I can change, and though it may seem troubling at times, it is a part of my identity. Growing up, I knew there was a difference between other children and myself. I’d always acted in a typical masculine manner, spent most of my time hanging around other boys, and, even from a young age, expected that I would be raised and treated like other boys. I would even insist on being called by a masculine version of my birth name. Being called my full birth name or forced to participate in stereotypically feminine activities made me extremely uncomfortable. I had no concept or idea as to what being transgender or experiencing gender dysphoria was at the time, but the thing I knew for sure is that I desperately wanted everyone to see me as a man.I began searching online for similar experiences when I was about 11 or 12. I was definitely at a low point; something felt wrong, and it caused me to feel alone. There wasn’t really anyone around me that I could talk to. Attending Catholic school and hearing lots of bigoted, anti-LGBTQ+ remarks only led me to hide and repress my feelings. When I found personal memoirs or articles from other transgender people, specifically transgender men, something clicked in my mind and things started to make sense. I understood how they felt, and their stories helped me to experience what I was feeling. Of course, I was still terrified upon discovering this because I had no idea what others would think or how it would affect everything else in my life. However, knowing that there were other people out there who knew what I was experiencing brought me comfort. One of the biggest moments during my years of middle school was the first time I got a men’s haircut. I was thirteen years old and it was toward the end of seventh grade. There was a lot of fighting with my parents, but I eventually was able to take this step by convincing them that shorter hair would be much easier to manage. Though I was still in the closet, there was one thing I knew for sure: this was the start of my transition. When I went into high school, I had a better understanding of who I was, but still had to hide it because I attended an all-girls school. Outside of my friend circle, my identity was kept secret. Throughout my four years, I was able to find other LGBTQ+ students; while I wasn’t exactly close with all of them, there was a subtle support network we had for each other. I’d met most of them during my junior and senior years since they were predominantly underclassmen. Generally speaking, however, being out to anyone at school was definitely the largest risk for me because, if it turned out that someone was not accepting, I could’ve been outed to the school and my family; more importantly, I most likely would have been expelled and/or sent to a religious counseling session. Since I’ve now graduated, I no longer have to fear that this will happen, but I still fear many things pertaining to my identity.It goes without saying that the Trump administration is a direct threat to the LGBTQ+ community. On the campaign trail in 2016, he painted a picture that he would be “a friend” to LGBTQ+ Americans, then chose Mike Pence as his vice president; when asked a question about LGBTQ+ rights, Trump joked not to ask Pence because “he wants to hang them all.” On election night 2016, it was reported that calls and texts to crisis support lines skyrocketed; most of the people contacting the hotlines identified as LGBTQ+. Two of the major concerns were the possibilities of losing access to healthcare and being unable to change legal documents. One of the Trump administration’s recent actions was rolling back Obama-era protections for transgender people seeking healthcare - a little over a year after stating that they would not be guaranteed healthcare protections under the Affordable Care Act. This is only one of the many cruel and horrific restrictions and rollbacks the Trump administration has set in stone. Within minutes of being inaugurated, any mention of the LGBTQ+ community was erased from government websites. The Trump administration has taken multiple steps in allowing “religious freedom” - so far as to even allow discrimination toward LGBTQ+ individuals. This administration has even refused to acknowledge Pride Month. One of the most notable rollbacks early in the Trump administration was banning transgender people from serving in the military. Trump has allowed adoption agencies to deny gay couples the ability to adopt based on “religious exemptions.” The administration has rolled back Title IX protections for LGBTQ+ students, and removed “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” from the list of terms to track bullying data in the Department of Education database, instead replacing it with “sex stereotyping” and eliminating anti-LGBTQ+ bullying tracking data. Trump’s team has also defined gender as a person’s biological sex many times, attempting to erase transgender people. Make no mistake - Donald Trump is not, and never has been, an ally to the LGBTQ+ community.My biggest concern, especially after the 2016 election, was which candidate had the best plan moving forward to protect the LGBTQ+ community. Initially, I was a huge supporter of Mayor Pete Buttigieg. It meant a lot to me to see a gay man running for president, and that’s initially what made him appealing to me. I did not have that connection with any of the other candidates. He was always my first choice. I’ll admit that I was definitely surprised when he dropped out of the race, but in time I understood it was what needed to be done. Without question, I immediately threw my support behind Joe Biden. While he may have not been my ideal candidate, I have always had a lot of respect for Biden. In my state, you’re taught that Joe Biden is a man to be respected because he always fought for the common man. His name is a household name here, and he’s even regarded as our third senator. It is important to me that the nominee shows strong support for the LGBTQ+ community, and I certainly was not let down. A lot of people like to drag his name through the mud because of not expressing support from the very beginning of his career. To that, I say one thing: Vice President Joe Biden has shown time and time again that he is not afraid to admit when he is wrong, and shows that he is willing to learn and change his views. He has shown that he is an ally of LGBTQ+ people. In 2012 on Meet The Press, Vice President Biden expressed his support for gay marriage. Hearing this from a government official, especially someone in his position of power, was unheard of. And, as the story goes, he not only almost got into trouble with President Obama, Biden later forced Obama’s hand in support of gay marriage. At a field office later that year, Biden stated that transgender equality is the civil rights issue of our time. The Obama-Biden administration was able to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act and repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Biden expressed overwhelming support for the ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015. Biden’s LGBTQ+ policy is very lengthy, and covers a lot of ground in terms of the work needed to be done to ensure protections. A Biden administration would focus on reinstating the Obama-era protections rolled back by the Trump administration. Within his first 100 days, one of Biden’s top legislative priorities will be passing the Equality Act, ensuring equal rights under the law for LGBTQ+ Americans. His administration will also reverse the transgender military ban, allowing transgender service members to not only serve openly, but also receive medical treatment and be free of discrimination. Biden will also crack down on discrimination loopholes and fight for LGBTQ+ individuals turned away due to this. A Biden administration will ensure that transgender individuals have the ability to change their legal documents - such as IDs and passports - to affirm their gender identity by providing the gender marker options of “M,” “F,” or “X.” Biden will also ensure LGBTQ+ people are protected from violence by seeking to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act in his first 100 days, and include sexual orientation and gender identity protections in the Family Violence Protection and Services Act. He will also guarantee that the ACA covers transgender individuals and does not allow them to be discriminated against, as well as expand mental health and suicide prevention services for the LGBTQ+ community. Most importantly, a Joe Biden presidency will enact the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, banning the horrific act of “conversion therapy.”Now, I understand the hesitation to support certain candidates. However, the choice is undeniably clear now. The LGBTQ+ community cannot take another four years of Trump. Make no mistake - Joe Biden is our ally.

Getting Up & Moving Forward

As the child of Asian-American immigrants born two months after the 9/11 attacks, the 2020 election is the first in which I can cast a ballot of my own. Because of this, I decided to pay attention to what was happening in the primaries this year. I considered myself an independent, and am still currently registered as such, but I strongly disagreed with many of the actions of the incumbent Republican administration, both in the White House and in Congress, and so decided that I would most likely be voting for the Democratic nominee this year. Out of the record-breaking 29 candidates who ran for the nomination, I will admit that Vice President Biden was not on my initial radar of who to eventually vote for. For the majority of the primary, however, I remained undecided, watching the debates and learning more about each candidate while I decided who I liked more and who I liked less. Through this process, I came to the general decision that, based on my own political stances, I would most likely back a candidate from the moderate wing of the party, such as Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and, yes, Vice President Biden. When Biden won the South Carolina primary in a landslide and Buttigieg and Klobuchar dropped out over the next two days, the choice became clear. I submitted my mail-in vote for Biden in the California primary on Super Tuesday, then watched as he pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in recent American political history. Over the next few months, as our country locked down due to COVID-19 and Biden emerged as the presumptive nominee, my support of Biden began to shift from not just support of his platform, but support of him as the type of person we need as our president. Like many Americans, the first thing I knew about Joe Biden was that he served as Vice President during Obama’s administration. As a result, he played a major role in many of the key achievements of his presidency, including the $831 billion stimulus package during the Great Recession preventing an even large economic collapse, and the passage of the Affordable Care Act, expanding healthcare coverage to 20 to 24 million more Americans. Biden also was a key advocate on LGBTQ+ rights, announcing his support of same sex marriage and helping lead a shift in nationwide attitudes on the issue that would culminate in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision three years later, as well as immigration. It would take pages upon pages of writing to list all of the other accomplishments Biden helped turn from proposal into policy during Obama’s presidency, but even those reflect only part of a long career fighting for the American people. Before serving as Vice President, Biden served as a Senator from Delaware for 36 years. In 1986, he blasted the Reagan administration’s support of South Africa’s apartheid government in a congressional hearing, helping to raise awareness of the widespread discrimination and outright violence nonwhites faced in the country. In 1994, President Clinton signed Biden’s Violence Against Women Act, providing justice for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and other violent crimes. Biden also became an advocate for American intervention in the Balkans to stop the genocide of Bosnians  and Kosovans that was taking place in the region. These are just a few of the many bills and amendments that Biden has spearheaded the passage of throughout his career, and what makes all of this even more remarkable is the personal challenges and tragedies he has had to go through during his life. Throughout his life, one thing has defined Vice President Biden’s story: his ability to persevere when knocked down or facing seemingly insurmountable challenges. As a child, he overcame his stutter by reciting poetry in front of a mirror in his home. As a candidate for Senate, he defeated a longtime Republican incumbent against whom no other Democrat had dared to run, then dealt with the loss of his wife and daughter just weeks after celebrating victory, taking the Amtrak home from Washington every night to care for his two sons who now found themselves without a mother. As a senator, he survived a brain aneurysm that was devastating enough to call in a priest to prepare to administer his last rites, then continued to serve in the Senate and get much of his legislation passed for two more decades. As one of his final acts as Vice President, he pushed for a bill to fund cancer research after his own son passed away in the spring of 2015. The fact that Biden is able to come back stronger than ever with a renewed purpose after hitting rock bottom so many times during his life is truly inspiring to me, and points to a quality I believe is necessary in any President: to never lose hope even when things seem bleak, and to let your challenges strengthen your character and resolve, not destroy them. Furthermore, Biden’s personal tragedies allow him to empathize with and comfort those in grief better than most people can and truly care for those suffering. Not only are these traits, as I have said earlier, necessary in any President at any time, they are especially needed now. With the COVID-19 pandemic claiming the lives of over 110,000 Americans and causing the largest economic disruption and job losses since the Great Depression, and nationwide anguish over the death of George Floyd, now more than ever are the qualities of perseverance and empathy needed in our leaders.Of course, healing after these events is only the beginning. Not only must we get back up after being knocked down, as Biden himself has done so many times in his life,  but we must also keep moving forward into the future. Biden’s policies will do exactly that. As a young American, one of the issues I am most concerned about is climate change. Under Biden’s plan, the United States will achieve a 100% clean energy economy and net zero carbon emissions by the year 2050, lead the world in climate action, and create thousands of jobs through building the green infrastructure we need to make this plan a reality. As an Asian-American and child of immigrants, Biden’s plans on these issues are also important to me. As President, Biden has promised to reinstate the DACA program that he and President Obama first introduced and protect Dreamers, while providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He will also reform our current immigration system to increase the number of legal immigrants we allow to come into the United States. Throughout our nation’s history, immigrants have been what makes America great, and under a Biden administration, they will continue to move here looking to improve their lives, working hard to benefit both themselves, their descendants, and our country as a whole, just as my own family did when they first came here. As a college student, and someone who is fortunate enough to work with people from all different works of life, including members of the LGBTQ+ community, I am glad that Biden has plans in these areas as well. Joe Biden’s plans for students include making four-year public colleges and universities tuition free for families making under $125,000 a year, making two-year community colleges free, increasing access to Pell grants for lower and middle class students, increasing funding for public universities and community colleges, and taking action on the gun violence epidemic that has plagued our country. Meanwhile, he plans to push for the passage of the Equality Act, ensuring legal protections for LGBTQ+ Americans under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, during his first 100 days in office, and use federal civil rights agencies to protect their rights. He will work to address the issues of mental health and homelessness among the community, especially LGBTQ+ youth, stand up for the rights of LGBTQ+ veterans, and ensure that transgender and non-binary Americans get the care and legal recognition they need. With his decades of work in fighting for the rights of every Americans, both in the Senate and as Vice President, his ability to rise above tragedy stronger than ever and empathize with others going through loss, and his vision to build a better future for our country, Joe Biden is uniquely prepared to meet the unique situation that the events of this year, and the challenges we as a country and as a planet face, have created for whoever wins in November. Not only will he lead the United States into a future with liberty and justice for all, but, thanks to his experience as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Vice President, he will restore America’s voice and influence abroad, a voice and influence that have been greatly damaged by the last four years, and help us lead the entire world into a future with liberty and justice for all. That is why I am voting for Joe Biden this fall, and why I hope that you will join me in electing a President who can realize our potential as a nation.

The Ugly Truth of Voter Suppression

Voter suppression in the United States is not something new. Rather, it has been a tactic used to target minorities and people of a low socioeconomic status since the founding of the country. The first form of the Constitution gave the states the right to decide who has the ability to vote. Initially, just white men and liberated African American slaves who claimed property were permitted to cast a ballot. Eventually, states gradually started to drop the property prerequisite and gave the right to vote to all white men, and some African American men. All women were also denied the ability to vote.   Some Jim Crow ballot laws included a highly difficult literacy test, which was essentially impossible for most former slaves (who had not received an education). Other states had a poll tax, which a lot of African Americans were incapable of paying. A few regions even held primaries for only white people, contrary to government law. Any attempts to violate the Jim Crow laws were regularly met with destructive retaliation. Women were granted the right to vote in 1920, but it took 45 more years to finally end the Jim Crow laws. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 explicitly prohibited any kind of assessment to qualify voters dependent on guidance, capability, or understanding of the English language.  Disinformation is another famous strategy for suppressing votes in an election. During the 2016 presidential election, the Trump campaign not only put out their own advertisements of disinformation via web-based networking media sites, but also had the assistance of Russia, who were spreading their propaganda and pretending to be real Americans to influence votes while distributing false information.  Other strategies used for voter suppression include various types of laws. A voter ID law in Indiana which requires voters to show a photo ID to curb voter fraud was upheld by the Supreme Court but is denied in states like South Carolina and Texas. Various state legislatures that are controlled by the Republican Party have passed laws prohibiting convicted criminals, even those who have already served their time, from ever casting a ballot again.  There are many forms of voter suppression that are used to target a specific group of people including no early voting, intimidation, gerrymandering, re-locations of voting stations, and voter purging, which are only a few out of many. During the 2018 gubernatorial race in Georgia, the Republican candidate Brian Kemp, who was also the Secretary of State of Georgia at the time as well, was called on to step down to prevent any conflict of interest (since he, as the Secretary of State, had the power to oversee the election in which he was a candidate), which he refused to do. Abnormalities in voter enrollment happened the day before the election, with hundreds of thousands of individuals being wrongly declared by the state to be ineligible to cast a ballot, and a huge number of voter enrollments being deferred without sufficient warning time. These anomalies lopsidedly disenfranchised African American voters, leading to charges that Kemp was deliberately disenfranchising voters to improve his odds of winning the election. He adamantly denied these charges by accusing his opponent of trying to rig the election (without ever offering any sort of evidence). Even in the year 2018, voter suppression was alive and well.  Almost every state requires voters to register before the election. In 2019, the House of Representatives voted to require states with a background marked by voter suppression to obtain government consent to change laws for elections, but this bill is being hindered by Senate Republicans and the White House. This continuing pattern of voter suppression should anger every citizen who believes that voting is a fundamental right. As the 2020 election nears, there are concerns among many across the country that President Trump will do whatever he can to win, even if that includes stealing the election. That is something I thought I’d never say about an American President, but Trump is the most dangerous President in my lifetime. Vice President Joe Biden believes that the United States must have automatic voter registration, and as President, he will ensure that voting will be easier for those who are targeted by voter suppression. Everybody who is eligible to vote should be able to vote without any hindrance. The very fabric of our democracy is endangered by voter suppression. As Vice President Biden says time and time again, this truly is the battle for the soul of this nation. What do you want to tell your grandchildren when they ask you what you did to help end voter suppression? Do you want to look back with regret on how you wish you could’ve done something to stop it? How can we truly have a representative democracy if groups of people can’t even vote based on what they look like or their background? I challenge you to do something about it. This coming election will truly be the most important election in your life and you have the power to stand up for what is morally right. You have the power to spur change and encourage others to do the right thing. We need to make our voices heard and prevent those in power from suppressing the voices of others. I encourage everyone to get involved to stop this ugly disease once and for all, as it should have been defeated hundreds of years ago. Whether it’s by passing petitions around or protesting for easier ways to vote, there has to be fundamental change from our leaders. Voter suppression should be something we read in the history books of having been an ugly form of intimidation that had been stopped, but it’s not. Those who want so dearly to cling to power will do whatever’s necessary to keep it. Not only should we end voter suppression, but we must hold our leaders accountable as well. In order to have free and fair elections in the United States, we have to put voter suppression to an end. For the sake of America’s democracy, we must.

Testimonial Tuesday: The Stepping Stone Philosophy

To put it simply, I see Vice President Joe Biden as the stepping stone candidate. You see, Biden was not my first choice during the primaries (that position went to Mayor Pete Buttigieg). Nor was he my second choice. At the time, Biden seemed to me to be a middle-of-the-pack compromise candidate, with nothing particularly good or bad about him. But as time went on, it became clear who our nominee would be. Biden’s sweeping victory in South Carolina was followed by a string of endorsements, which I call the Moderate Consolidation. Former candidates who shared many policies and values with Biden, notably Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and former Representative Beto O’Rourke, all endorsed Biden within the period of a few hours [1]. The following Tuesday was the first hint of the power of unity, as Biden swept ten of the fifteen Super Tuesday states and territories [2]. States like O’Rourke’s home state of Texas and Klobuchar’s home state of Minnesota were previously believed to be toss-ups at best, yet the endorsements pulled Biden over the top [3]. Fast forward a little over a month, and America is in the midst of a pandemic. A sudden and simultaneous dual disaster of a health crisis and economic crisis has changed everyday life as we know it. However, in the middle of all of this, comes a second series of high-profile endorsements. Over the span of a week, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders endorse Biden, and are joined by former president Barack Obama [4]. The former two were the most progressive Democratic candidates for president this past cycle, and Obama is lauded by Americans of all political affiliations. Thus, these endorsements marked the Liberal Consolidation, the unifying of the entirety of the Democratic Party behind Biden, seemingly a fully united front against President Trump. However, many conservative Never-Trumpers and centrist politicians often critical of the President currently remain on the fence. Luckily, if there is any person who could convince them to join the fight against Trump, it’s Joe Biden. Biden is seen by many as a moderate Democrat. His policies are closer to the center in comparison to many of his former competitors’. It is this perception of moderateness and willingness to compromise to the political center that could earn the support of conservative politicians such as former Republican Representative Justin Amash, vocal Trump critic, and former Ohio governor John Kasich, respected Senator Mitt Romney who voted for the removal of Trump from office in February, and other politicians who have publicly stated their difficulty deciding between Trump and Biden, such as Senator Lisa Murkowski [5]. This potential Conservative Consolidation would all but ensure a Democratic victory in November, as the conservative politicians would be able to convince their constituents to support Joe Biden. However, it is important to note that Biden is more than a unifier: he is a stepping stone to a more progressive future. You may have noticed that I spoke of the “perception of moderateness” that could earn the support of conservatives. I phrased it this way purposefully, because one of Biden’s greatest strengths is his ability to mask progressive policies in moderate rhetoric. While his policies are admittedly less ambitious than those of his other previous competitors, come January 2021 he will be the most progressive president in recent history, advocating for new reforms previously seen as radical—supporting everything from a $15 minimum wage to Senator Warren’s bankruptcy plan would have seemed like all but political suicide just a decade or two ago. Biden also has a history of fighting for progressive reforms, notably for Black Americans. Biden was a co-sponsor of the Civil Rights Act of 1990 that aimed to protect Blacks from employment discrimination, and his current plan for Black America vows to tackle wealth disparities and expand access to high-quality education, among other things [7]. Donald Trump, on the other hand, was quoted in 1991 as having said that he hated having Black accountants, and that “laziness is a trait in [Blacks]” [8]. And as president, Trump has appeared to more vocally oppose a Black football player kneeling on the ground than a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd. So, for those of you who, like me, are fed up with the regressive policies of President Trump and want a more progressive candidate, I encourage you to take comfort in the fact that electing Joe Biden as president will be a stepping stone toward a new progressive future, normalizing what may have otherwise been seen as radical rather than common sense, and laying the groundwork for a new era of progressivism. [1] – https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5e5c9942c5b6beedb4edbabc/amp[2] – https://ballotpedia.org/Super_Tuesday_primaries,_2020[3] – https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/our-final-forecast-for-super-tuesday-shows-bidens-surge-and-lots-of-uncertainty/[4] – https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.politico.com/amp/news/2020/04/15/warren-endorses-biden-as-democrats-unite-for-the-fall-187627[5] – https://news.yahoo.com/amphtml/murkowski-praises-mattis-speaking-says-171051493.html[6] – https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/20/opinion/joe-biden-progressive.html[7] – https://joebiden.com/blackamerica/[8] – https://fortune.com/2016/06/07/donald-trump-racism-quotes/

Lift Every Voice

It has been 401 years since the first 20 or so African slaves first arrived in the current United States in Point Comfort, Virginia after being seized by British privateers from a Portuguese slave ship and while significant gains have been made for the civil rights of African Americans over the course of our country’s history, it is apparent more than ever that there is still work to be done before we can truly say we do right by African Americans. Within the past few months alone, a light has been shown on how our Black community is still deeply hurt by systemic inequities in the United States. The compounding effects of the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affecting African Americans and the murder of George Floyd and countless other African Americans at the hands of the police have ignited the desire for institutional change by Americans from all walks of life for the Black community. The hard work in front of us to create an equitable and just society for African Americans cannot be done under the Trump Administration, especially when they have consistently ignored how the Black community has been disproportionately affected by the social and economic difficulties the United States has faced in the past few months alone and dismisses the deep history behind the causes behind our systemic inequities. We simply cannot continue to live under an administration that continuously lies that they are doing the best for the Black community when the reality of their policies is far from the best we can do as Americans. The Biden War Room would like to highlight a few key policy proposals from Biden Plan for Black America (the full text of this plan can be read at https://joebiden.com/blackamerica/) that outlines how Vice President Joe Biden will begin to immediately address issues facing the Black community from Day 1 on January 20, 2021 for long-term, sustainable progress for African Americans. Perhaps the most immediate concern that Americans from all walks of life have expressed through 1st Amendment protected protests across the country for the Black community is the need for police reform and a fair system of justice. Under the Obama-Biden Administration, the Justice Department used authority from legislation spearheaded by Biden during his time in the Senate to address systemic police misconduct in communities such as Ferguson, Missouri after the police shooting of Michael Brown. However, under the Trump Administration’s Justice Department, the use of the tools provided in this legislation was significantly limited. The Biden Administration vows to restore and strengthen the power of legislation designed to give the Justice Department the authority to root out unconstitutional and unlawful policing through new legislation that would clarify that pattern-or-practice investigation authority can also be used to address systemic misconduct by local and state prosecutor’s offices to address the concerns of communities. The Biden Administration would also provide a $300 million investment towards the Community Oriented Policing Services program, which was a program that was never funded but would provide conditions, funding, and training for communities to have policing that reflects local racial diversity will scrutinize the types of equipment that the police are able to use at their disposal. Additionally, the Biden Administration would establish a panel to scrutinize what type of equipment that police departments are able to use at their disposal, an issue that has gained significant importance after the life-long injuries civilians and journalists have sustained at the hands of the police during the protests after the police murder of George Floyd. African Americans have also faced recent devastation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged that African Americans faced worse health outcomes under the COVID-19 pandemic than other racial and ethnic groups in the United States. The CDC has stated that “The conditions in which people live, learn, work, and play contribute to their health. These conditions, over time, lead to different levels of health risks, needs, and outcomes among some people in certain racial and ethnic minority groups.” With 90% of African-American owned businesses shut out of financial relief programs designed for economic recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic, environmental pollution in African-American communities exacerbating COVID-19 symptoms, and greater numbers of African-Americans in our essential workforce, systemic change must be made for the Black community to address inequities created over the course of our difficult history for recovery and better long-term public health outcomes. For community economic recovery, the Biden Administration plans to reverse the cuts made to the Small Business Administration by the Trump Administration and expand access to lending services and federal contracts to underserved communities so that African-American small business owners have equitable access to capital like their White entrepreneurial counterparts. To address environmental public health factors, the Biden Administration will restore the strength of the Environmental Protection Agency by prosecuting corporate pollution ignored under the Trump Administration and will reduce matching funds required of local governments that do not have the tax base to repair critical water infrastructure ignored in predominantly African-American communities such as Flint, Michigan. Finally, to tackle challenges in health care access for Black communities, the Biden Administration plans to not only build upon the Affordable Care Act passed under the Obama-Biden Administration, but to create a public option for health care coverage and ensure that all medical costs related to COVID-19 are fully covered for every American, insured or uninsured. Of course, change in a representative democratic system will always be an ongoing project and the input of members of the Black community for tangible policy solutions is vital for the success of policies that reflect our ideals of an equitable society. Vice President Biden vows to not only listen to Black leaders and communities, but to appoint effective leaders that are representative of the people. His promise to appoint the first African-American woman to the Supreme Court will not be his only appointment that will help our government be more representative of our country’s demographics. Together, we can help create a more representative, equitable, and just society through democratic actions at every level of government by electing Vice President Biden on November 3, 2020 and defeat the current administration that chooses to ignore and dismiss issues that have faced the Black community for far too long.

Latinos Can Change the Course in 2020

It is anything but a mystery. The manner in which Latinos have been treated under President Trump and his administration has been repulsive. His anti-Latino rhetoric has been obvious from the start, and isolating families at the border is just one of the crimes that the Trump Administration has committed which have harmed the Latino community. Although every community has been affected negatively under President Trump, the Latino community has been a target of President Trump’s ever since his campaign announcement speech, in which he proclaimed that “They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists...”   Fast forward to five years later, while this nation is in a massive pandemic, Vice President Joe Biden has emerged as the Democratic nominee and has promised to protect the Latino community and reverse the tragic policies that Donald Trump has delivered against them. Vice President Biden comprehends the agony felt by each person across the nation whose friend or family member was expelled from the country, and he accepts the notion that we should improve and maintain our laws altruistically. Along with this, he has laid out his plans to do so if he were elected President in November, vowing to promptly reverse the brutal approach that takes away parents from their children at our borders, including the frightening and discouraging strategy of taking legal action for small infractions, and will unite each and every family separated by the Trump administration. Donald Trump's policy of forcing asylum seekers to live in Mexico for long periods of time before being able to apply has allowed an alarming number of brutalities and misuse to occur, with cartels hijacking, viciously attacking, and blackmailing vagrants. Vice President Biden will make sure that the basic advantages to make certain refugee bundles are handled productively and not corruptly, while treating families and adolescents with empathy, the way they should have been treated from the very beginning.  When elected, Joe will end expanded confinement and reinvest in a situation control application which empowers migrants to live in safety. He has additionally vowed to try and systematize insurances to defend children and put resources into network-based case control projects to move them into a more secure climate as fast as could reasonably be expected. As President, Joe will lead the way to roll out altruist and well-intentioned resources at the border and champion civic action. Humane and beneficent extremities are confronted within a chain of clustering. Under his leadership and administration, he will adequately boost government assets which will help immigrants wait for refuge.  Furthermore, Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall, which was a central campaign promise of his in 2016 that has yet come to fruition, doesn’t solve the problem of gang members and criminals terrorizing our borders and those trying to cross it. Unlike our current President, Joe will guide existing assets to push for border security without building a meaningless wall as it should have been in the first place. Donald Trump claims to support Latinos, yet makes racist statements and has repeatedly called them criminals and rapists. We don’t need a leader who generalizes a group of people and repeatedly terrorizes them. We need a leader who has compassion and can sympathize with those who need help and are counting on our nation’s leaders to do so. We need a leader who won’t demonize Latinos and generalize them as criminals. While Joe currently has a 41 point advantage over Trump when it comes to Latino support, we cannot take it for granted. The Latino community needs our help and Joe Biden and his administration can do just that.