DNC uncovers disagreement, major differences within Democratic party

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ANGELA VASISHTA / THE FLAT HAT

Last week, the Democratic National Convention took place in Milwaukee, Wis., and the wide cast of speakers present, including official nominees Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, offered insight into many problems currently plaguing the country. Topics ranged from universal healthcare, coronavirus response and racial tensions, including the call for defunding the police in light of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Although it may have appeared as if the Democratic party was united on policy, the only thing that they can actually agree upon is taking down President Donald Trump in the looming election.

It is well known that presidential candidate Joe Biden comprises a more conservative side of the Democratic party, and his policy ideologies are consistent with this. Considering that the majority of Democrats tend to be from a younger generation, such as college students like ourselves, Biden is finding himself becoming more and more progressive as the main competitor to Trump’s far right presidency.

This progressiveness has been heightened with the country’s coronavirus response; both sides of the political spectrum have become disappointed and disillusioned with how events have unfolded. Indeed, our college experience this year hangs precariously on the rate and quantity of coronavirus cases, and this issue is understandably in our best interest to maintain both safety and the College of William and Mary’s best course of education. Economic stimulation to protect jobs is implicit in coronavirus response, and Biden has frequently discussed improving the minimum wage, which would directly impact jobs that college students hold without completed degrees.

Perhaps the most beneficial policy changes that the DNC discussed was its ideas and values on college funding and financial support to students. Many students at the College struggle with paying tuition, and although some opportunities exist now, the Democratic party wants to increase this in terms of loan forgiveness, grant amount and tuition-free public college for lower-income families. Furthermore, the Biden administration would focus on vital cultural and educational institutions, such as historically Black colleges and universities. Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke about education in tandem with child care during the DNC, which has been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and her previous role as a teacher has caused many to ponder the possibility of her becoming education secretary within the Biden administration.

Despite this appearance of agreement within the Democratic party, there is much strife and discontent on key issues, climate change being one of them. Biden has declared a plan for over a trillion dollars to be spent on clean energy development and usage for the United States, and a good portion of his nomination speech at the DNC was spent discussing these concerns, in part because he has previously been more lenient on climate change policy. Biden has not called for a ban on fracking, wherein even Kamala Harris, his pick for vice president, has called for such in an attempt to rectify the climate situation.

The media this summer has focused a great deal on the #BlackLivesMatter movement, as many African Americans and people of color are being disproportionately harmed and killed by the police. During the opening night of the DNC, Biden spoke about how some cops were good, ultimately upsetting many progressives and activists within the party. Indeed, the majority of the movement is calling for defunding of police in some manner, but Biden has repeatedly rejected this while other prominent Democrats petition for it. In relation to his lack of progressive support for BLM, Biden has remained rather mild on immigration issues. It is very concerning that Biden has not truly addressed the long-terms immigration changes and deportation policies outside of the first 100 days, considering many college students today may have undocumented status.

Altogether, Biden has many stances that differ wildly from other speakers of the Democratic National Convention, they are essentially unanimous in their support of him over President Trump. This is very reminiscent of Trump’s initial presidential campaign, as many Americans were searching for something different, even if they didn’t 100 percent agree with his policy ideals. Now, many Americans are tired of the way in which the current administration has handled national and international affairs, and hope Biden will change this; again, individual policies do not necessarily align with their own.

“Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” former first lady Michelle Obama said during the DNC. If the Democratic National Party hopes to win in the quickly approaching election, more agreement must be reached than simply on this matter. Students on this campus, regardless of their political affiliations, Democrat, Republican or otherwise, deserve strong candidates with specific, detailed and widely agreed-upon policy platforms respective to their party association.

Email Elaine Godwin at

sgodwin@email.wm.edu.