We the editorial team of RogerEbert.com endorse the Democratic ticket of Joe Biden for President and Kamala Harris for Vice President for the 2020 U.S. election. We have never made an editorial endorsement before, and the fact that we are doing so today reflects the importance of this decision.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have a plan to tackle the coronavirus pandemic which, due to President Trump's failure of leadership, has wreaked havoc on our health and our economy. With millions infected by COVID and over 220,000 Americans dead from it, they have a plan to slow the spread of the virus, put us on a path to normalcy, and stabilize our economy. They advocate for unity over division and embody the personal principles we believe in, such as empathy, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. We are at an inflection point in our nation's history where social unrest over racial injustice must be fairly addressed. We must take a stand for our poor and our middle class and for those who feel as if they have not been part of the American dream. We must protect the dignity of women and their right to make choices about their reproductive health. And we believe that Biden and Harris will serve as the leaders of One America embracing the patchwork quilt ideal of our nation.
As the former Vice President in the Obama Administration, Joe Biden skillfully interacted with our allies in other countries, strengthening our international relations and national security. He has an abiding respect for our military and intelligence agencies as has been demonstrated by the long list of military and intelligence experts who are also endorsing this team. Likewise, Biden is the only choice to restore and maintain our democracy and the principles upon which this country is founded, including independent executive, judicial and legislative branches, and fair and inclusive elections. And he will reestablish our adherence to scientific facts when dealing with health and the environment. While no one is a perfect candidate, Joe Biden's decency stands as a model, not only for our children, but for those globally who look to the United States of America as the beacon of hope and fairness.
The 2020 election is not about Democrats versus Republicans. This election is not about big versus small government or a strict or broad interpretation of the Constitution. It is about integrity versus corruption, leadership versus chaos, science versus hokum, and democracy versus dark money oligarchs.
Donald J. Trump has a longstanding history of being polarizing and self-dealing. From Trump’s treatment of the Central Park Five and his failures as a businessman to his campaign trail misogyny, bigotry, and encouragement of violence against political adversaries and reporters, he was clearly unsuited to the job he sought. And when he squeaked into an electoral college victory and won the nation’s highest office—seemingly to his own surprise as much as everyone else’s—rather than reach within himself to try to become a better man and a flexible chief executive, he doubled down on his most grotesque flaws.
Trump appointed unqualified friends, benefactors, and family members to critical posts and more than a few of them ended up being investigated, indicted, and even sent to prison. He allowed other appointees and business acquaintances to loot the treasury through conflicts of interest. He encouraged a culture of fear and blind loyalty within his administration that caused experienced employees to resign, change departments, or risk prosecution by turning whistleblower. He transformed borders into walls and immigration facilities into something more akin to concentration camps. He appeared uninterested in diplomacy with allies abroad and showed little inclination to learn how his own government worked at its most basic level. By his own admission, Trump spends too much time watching cable news, golfing, and Twitter ranting. And he brags about love letters from dictators.
Trump’s behavior, temperament, and judgment are not going to change. Whether discounting science that could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, denying the existence of systemic racism, casting doubt on the legitimacy of the electoral process, or isolating our nation from our allies, he has shown himself to be too small for the size of the moment. We deserve a leader who will serve the entire country, and put our interests ahead of his own.
Joe Biden is the kind of leader who knows that shaping the future takes a team of men and women who will heed the advice of experts, even when they don’t reflect the party line. The one thing that can’t be undervalued in this race is that Biden surrounds himself with expertise rather than cronies. That is evidenced by his choice of Kamala Harris for his Vice President, a strong, intelligent leader, who served as the Attorney General of California before becoming the first Indian American to serve as a U.S. senator, and only the second African-American woman. The list of cabinet members and allies who have left Trump’s side and revealed how insular and defensive he can be even as he’s making key decisions should be conclusive, as should Trump's recent attacks on experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci. Biden and Harris have both demonstrated that they are not only able to accept others’ input and criticism, they seek it out, correctly grasping that such outreach is an integral part of maintaining a functioning, flexible government.
A common question for most incumbent presidents is “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” We believe the crucial question in 2020 is “Who do you trust to take you where you want to go four years from now?” Joe Biden has the experience, intelligence, compassion, and knowledgeable experts around him to take us on that fraught journey in ways that Donald Trump has proven time and time again that he simply does not.
Roger Ebert said about politics, shortly before he died: “’Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.” We owe it to ourselves to embrace Roger's values when we vote this year, or we risk not having the chance to do so again.
Other Endorsements We Suggest You Read
“Elect Joe Biden. Reject Donald Trump” – USA Today
“Joe Biden for President” – Rolling Stone
“Joe Biden for President: The New York Times Editorial Board Endorsement” – The New York Times
“Joe Biden for President” – Washington Post
"Dying in a Leadership Vacuum" - The New England Journal of Medicine
"Scientific American Endorses Joe Biden" - Scientific American
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