New year, new president
On Nov. 3, 2020, United States citizens cast their votes for the next president. Though this election is like no other, as voter turnout hit an all-time high and people could cast their votes by mail, early in-person or on Election Day.
On Nov. 7, Democratic candidate Joe Biden had surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, making him the new president-elect of the United States. With Donald Trump out of office and Biden in, people in the U.S. can expect to see a few changes.
Trump Challenges Results
Even with the announcement of Biden winning the 2020 presidential election, current President Donald Trump has refused to concede and has claimed that Biden won due to voter fraud. The Trump campaign has even gone as far as to file over 30 lawsuits across six swing states. Out of these lawsuits, at least 25 have been denied, dismissed, settled or withdrawn according to an article by NBC.
Even with the attempts to prove that there was voter fraud and that the Democratic party won through unlawful ways, Trump’s chances of winning these suits and maintaining his position of president are slim to none.
On Dec. 14, electors of the electoral college will cast their ballots for president and vice president. Then, on Jan. 6, 2021, the vote count is finalized, and the results are certified.
Though it is still unclear as to when Trump will concede to Biden, or if he even will, it will not have any impact as to who is in office in January.
Melinda Kovacs, associate professor of political science at Missouri Western State University, says that despite conceding not being required by law, it is important for democracy.
“Conceding is not required by law, nor is it what makes the results official. However, conceding is tremendously important for democracy: democracy is a system with a peaceful transfer of power and legitimacy is conferred by symbolic acts like conceding,” Kovacs said.
With all this being said, it is almost certain that Biden will be the next president and with that comes change.
COVID-19 under Biden
One of the biggest events of 2020 is the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic affected people worldwide, though it first really hit the U.S. back in March. Now, nearing the end of the year, cases and deaths are still on the rise and the virus affects the country.
With the U.S. rising to the top of the charts based on cases and deaths when compared to the rest of the world, many have critiqued the Trump administration’s response to the virus.
Now, with cases skyrocketing around the country, many are waiting and expecting the Biden administration to do more.
Jonathan Euchner, an assistant professor in political science, thinks Biden has to do something different, just because what Trump has and has not done has failed.
“Maybe expand testing, maybe a mask mandate, maybe some additional money out of Congress for COVID,” Euchner said. “I think Biden will just set a different tone, science will be back in charge, you’ll have press conferences, they’ll ask questions.”
Ed Taylor, another political science professor at MWSU, expects a better coordinated national response to the pandemic.
“This could include a nationwide mask mandate, strategies for distribution and disbursement of FDA-approved vaccines, hopefully, financial relief for Americans (including extending unemployment benefits, loans to business, student loan relief among other things),” Taylor said.
Though he is not in office yet, Biden has already begun working on a plan for COVID-19.
“Biden already assembled well-respected doctors to serve as his advisors and as his response team. It is striking that many on President Trump’s COVID task force are not health care experts. So the Biden response will certainly be more expertise-centered. Biden also seems much more ready to impose nationwide mask ordinances,” Kovacs said.
Though mask mandates, testing and vaccines seem to be the first things that come to mind when thinking about COVID-19, money and financial relief, as mentioned by Euchner and Taylor, are also important aspects when discussing responses to the pandemic.
Back in late March, Trump signed into law a $2 trillion stimulus package for COVID-19 relief. Married couples earning up to $150,000 would get $2,400 plus $500 per child, while individuals making up to $75,000 in annual gross income would get $1,200 plus $500 per child.
Euchner believes that another relief bill will come with Biden’s presidency, as many will push for one.
“I think there will be a lot of pressure to approve another bill and provide relief for people that have lost jobs or had some kind of hardship,” Euchner said. “And they’ll borrow money because no one wants to raise taxes.”
Like with the handling of the virus in assembling a team to deal with all the physical health aspects, Biden is already ahead and urging Congress to pass a second relief package.
Healthcare under Biden
Another hot topic when discussing political candidates is healthcare. For most, especially college-aged people, Biden’s policies and stance on healthcare will benefit them.
Mike Luce, a campaigns specialist for the Dover Group, brings up Biden’s past with the Affordable Care Act.
“Part of Biden’s legacy was helping pass the Affordable Care Act as vice president,” Luce said. “And I think we will see him attempt to improve it as president.”
Like Luce, Kovacs mentions Biden’s start with the ACA and what this means for college students, as they will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance.
“Biden was present at the birth of Obamacare / Affordable Care Act and he will revive it, I am sure, once he is president. I believe he will revive the option for young folks to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26. I say ‘revive’ because there are ongoing efforts still by the Trump administration to get rid of the ACA,” Kovacs said.
Euchner also noted the attempts to overturn the ACA, and says that a Biden presidency means that the Supreme Court will likely not overturn the ACA.
Student Loans under Biden
Another relevant issue to college students is that of student loans. Biden has brought up the possibility of forgiving a certain amount of student loans.
Though nothing is set in stone yet, students could see $50,000 of their student loans erased at some point during Biden’s presidency.
“With a Republican-controlled Senate, very little can be done. However, I have seen Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer encourage Biden to forgive everyone’s first $50,000 of student loans via executive order,” Nathan Scott, Missouri Western’s SGA president said.
In addition to student loan forgiveness, Biden has discussed making some college free, depending on circumstances.
“In terms of financial aid, Biden has vowed to forgive some student debt, to make community colleges free and also make four-year institutions free to students whose families make less than a certain amount of money a year,” Kovacs said. “Overall Biden seems much more committed than Trump to making college and higher ed, in general, more affordable and that should qualify as good news for college students.”
Taxes under Biden
One last topic often talked about in politics is that of taxes, but this will likely have a very minimal impact on students and most people residing in the U.S.
Scott brings up Biden’s tax plan to increase taxes on those who make more than $400,000 annually.
“Many college students barely make enough to be taxed, so it’s unlikely that these increases would affect a majority of students,” Scott said. “We may see the price of common items such as gas go up which might have the biggest impact on students.”
Overall, Biden’s tax plan will not be of much concern to Americans, as most do not make anywhere near that amount.
First Female Vice President
It is clear that Biden’s presidency will bring about change, but Kamala’s Harris’ vice presidency is also very important. Being the first woman vice president is a very historical and significant moment in United States history.
Latyoa Muhammad, the multicultural education director at MWSU, discusses how Kamala Harris’ vice presidency will encourage and empower others.
“In higher education we talk about how when students see leaders that look like them they are more successful and they can see themselves in those individuals. I think the same goes for the leaders in our country. When we see ourselves in the leadership of our nation it encourages us to continue achieving our goals whatever they may be,” Muhammad said. “It tells us and our girls that anything is possible. We must have diversity in these positions so women can aspire to be in those same positions so people see them and hear them.”
As for what Harris’ vice presidency means for the future of women in politics, Muhammad hopes that this means we will continue to see an increase of women in power.
“I hope this means we will continue to see more women in these roles. Kamala’s presidency will empower other women to see themselves there. It also changes the narrative certain people in our society have about women especially women of color in our country,” Muhammad said. “Sometimes the narrative won’t change for certain people and that is sad but I am hoping people see that when you add diverse perspectives different solutions are brought forth that people may not have thought of because of their lived experiences.”