See Disclaimer. See also related articles: Letters to an unfit president and Letters to our future President (including Why we must elect you, Mr. Biden and Let’s talk vision and plans, Mr. Biden).
There is no certainty on who will be our next President. But when the sun rises this coming Wednesday, America will be different. How different depends on who wins, and whether he will have a supportive Congress.
No, we will not be a socialist country. If your planned vote is driven by fear that Mr. Biden will install socialism in America, please stop. No matter how much Mr. Trump misleadingly says otherwise, Mr. Biden is not a socialist. In fact, Mr. Biden strongly opposes socialism as a transition to communism, and he does not advocate for democratic socialism.
For clarity, these two political philosophies are fundamentally different. Both advocate a level of ownership or control by government of the means of production. But socialism as or towards communism involves exclusive ownership or heavy control, and is typically coupled with single-party political autocracies (as in North Korea, China and Russia). By contrast, democratic socialism involves less stringent economic control, typically driven by social justice imperatives, and operates well as an option within multi-party democracies (as in France or Portugal).
Mr. Biden fits neither. Using an international terminology, he fits instead somewhere between a social democrat and a Christian democrat. Those are the parties that have alternated in power in modern Germany, ultimately building the country post-war into a stable and economically vibrant democracy, with indisputable European and international leadership. Social democrats advocate for economic and social interventions to promote social justice, within a framework of democratic freedoms and a hybrid (‘market’ and ‘planned’) economy. Christian democrats lean center-right on cultural, social and moral issues, but lean center-left on economic and labor issues, civil rights, and the environment.
Neither philosophy is scary, and both are consistent with American values, even if we have historically used different terminology. In fact, the Biden personal blend of social and Christian democracy will set us on a clear path for becoming ‘a more perfect Union,’ deeply committed to democratic ideals. This commitment matters—and should be accounted for when we vote.
In fact, depending on who wins we will soon be differently committed to democracy. Mr. Biden has and will remain a staunch advocate for the freedoms outlined in our Constitution. He will govern for all Americans, defend a free press and will protect everyone’s right to vote—all of which are at the core of our democratic republic.
By contrast, Mr. Trump has perilous autocratic leanings, and often shows admiration for countries like North Korea, China and Russia that have autocratic (and, ironically, socialist) governments. If re-elected, he will intensify his attacks on the fundamentals of our democracy, progressively eroding our national grasp on freedom—against and in spite of the democracy-preserving mechanisms of our Constitution.
If you plan to let ideological purity (such as democratic socialism) or specific social issues (such as abortion) drive your vote, please stop. Our disagreements on policy and national priorities can best be addressed through the democratic process. That is the type of process that a Biden Administration will foster and abide by, but that a Trump Administration has shown appetite and willingness to curtail.
Regardless of the winner, COVID-19 will not vanish as per miracle. But a Biden Administration will approach this devastating public health crisis with a clear-eyed and science-informed plan—saving lives and protecting the health of Americans, while enabling a faster recovery of the economy. That’s a vast and urgently needed improvement relative to a Trump Administration that has grossly mishandled all aspects of a crisis responsible for over 9.2 million cases and 230,000 deaths to date in the US.
Regardless of the winner, we will face an uphill battle on climate change. But, unlike the Trump Administration, a Biden Administration will not ignore or aggravate the crisis. Rather, a Biden Administration will be advised by science in actively mitigating and adapting to the ongoing climate changes. It will do so though coordinated national and international efforts, recognizing both the utter urgency for effective action and the opportunity for economic development fueled by the clean energy sector.
Regardless of the winner, misinformation and conspiracy theories will not disappear overnight. But, unlike the Trump administration, a Biden Administration will not fuel them. Instead, a Biden Administration will strive to re-install truth, facts, and science as anchors of our thinking and actions.
Regardless of the winner, intolerance and discrimination will also not vanish overnight. But, unlike the Trump administration, a Biden Administration will practice and promote civility and social justice. In fact, civil dialogue and participation will be key tools for consensus building at government level, setting the example for the entire nation. And social justice will be a priority, addressed with balance and without compromising law and order.
Regardless of the winner, we will still have family, friends, and neighbors that, deep down, we care about— even if they disagree with us politically. The Trump Administration has been adept at driving an even deeper wedge among us. By contrast, the Biden Administration will help us feel, once again, that we are all Americans—and that we have far more in common than what divides us.
Joe Biden’s is the America I hope to wake up to, this coming Wednesday. I thus proudly voted for him, and for a Congress supportive of him. Will you join me?
— Antonio Baptista
* Note: ‘Wednesday’ is used rhetorically. It refers to the day after the results of the presidential election are known, whatever that day might be. It stands to reason that all votes must be counted, no matter what Mr. Trump might say.