As the U.S. reaches Election Day on Nov. 3, Iowa State staff and students explained the results of the presidential election are the make or break for the next four years in America.
“Think about what kind of world you want to live in,” said Karen Kedrowski, an Iowa State political science professor and director of the Catt Center for Women and Politics.
The two worlds, one in which President Donald Trump is reelected and one in which former Vice President Joe Biden is elected as president, are drastically different, according to Iowa State students and staff.
From climate change to racial injustice, women’s rights to international relationships, the next four years in America will be crucially important to the future of the nation and the world.
“This is literally crunch time to enact legislation that will hopefully secure the future of the planet,” said Abigail Meehan, a junior in political science and the communications director for the Iowa State Democrats, when asked about climate change during the next four years.
Jonathan Hassid, an associate professor of political science at Iowa State, offered a view of what climate change will look like under four more years of a Trump presidency.
“If Trump were elected, on the climate change front, the U.S. would continue to be a major carbon emitter and would do little to nothing to reduce the effects of climate change,” Hassid said.
Hassid continued and said while Trump may believe climate change is a Chinese hoax, it most definitely is a pressing threat to our world. Kedrowski shared a similar view.
“One of these candidates, Biden, believes that climate change is real, and one of them does not,” Kedrowski said. “Do we continue to make progress ... to lower emissions, or do we ignore science and continue to ignore science and deny that climate change is real?”
Under a new administration, there will hopefully be a better use of renewable energy, which could result in the creation of many jobs, said Sehba Faheem, a senior in biological systems engineering and the president of the Iowa State Democrats.
“With our economy in such a low point because so many people have lost their jobs, it makes no sense for us to not be investing in renewables,” Faheem said. “It is better for our economy. It is better for our people both safetywise and financially.”
When discussing the economy, Kedrowski said she believes the economy performed very well under the Trump administration before the COVID-19 pandemic. She noted the stock markets were doing well, unemployment rates were low and there were even talks of raising the federal minimum wage.
“The difference would be that there’d be, I think, less focus on what the stock market is doing and more focus on what regular Americans and how regular Americans are doing,” Kedrowski said when asked what the difference in the economy would be in the coming years according to who wins the presidential election.
However, Ryan Hurley, a sophomore in prebusiness and the president of the Iowa State Republicans, said Joe Biden’s plan for the economy is less than sufficient.
”Economically, Biden’s plan is a disaster and it’s going to hurt small businesses,” Hurley said.
Hurley said he believes if Trump were to be reelected, international relationships would “continue to improve.”
”I’ve talked with multiple ministers from Hungary, countries from the Middle East, and, you know, a lot of them are saying that relationships are improving under Trump," Hurley said.
However, Hassid said he believes Trump has negatively affected our relationships with other countries.
“The U.S. is no longer respected in many countries,” Hassid said. “President Trump has continued to disparage American allies. He’s threatened to pull out of NATO. U.S. relationships around the world are at a global low.”
Faheem said Trump has chosen allies with dictators from other countries, which she said is less than adequate and leaves the U.S. in a vulnerable state with relationships with other countries. Kedrowski shared a similar view when saying Trump has alienated many of our allies that have given the U.S. support in the past.
”This has placed the United States far out of step with the rest of the world ... and has really abandoned the American position as an international leader,” Kedrowski said.
Hassid offered a perspective on how the way Trump has managed foreign relationships has affected the future of America. He explained that Biden has made it clear he takes American alliances more seriously, which Hassid said differs from Trump's administration.
“Joe Biden has worked with these foreign leaders before too,” Faheem said. “So, he knows them. It’s not like they have to get to know a whole new person. He already has those relationships, he just needs to pick them up.”
International relationships wouldn’t be the only connections that will take an extended amount of time to repair in the U.S., but Americans can also expect the repercussions of racial injustice to only continue because it was baked into the foundation of America, Faheem said.
“This [people's reactions to racial injustice] is nowhere close to being over. Protests may have slowed down right now because it’s colder outside, but as soon as it starts to get warmer outside, they’re going to pick back up again, and they’re going to keep going,” Faheem said. “I really do hope that whoever is in office takes the concerns of protesters seriously because I don’t think that we’re asking for anything that is particularly extraordinary … It’s not a revolutionary idea to feel safe going for a jog.”
Hurley said Trump has done a great job reaching out to minority communities and Biden would only worsen those relationships.
“I think that Trump is really reaching out to these different communities — the Hispanic community, the African American community,” Hurley said. ”I think people are starting to realize that Trump puts all Americans first, and that’s what we need in a leader.”
However, Novotny Lawrence, an associate professor of journalism and mass communications at Iowa State, said he thinks differently.
“If we continue along the trajectory we are going down, I don’t really expect that much is going to change in terms of racial injustice — correcting racial injustice — because it seems that there’s not an interest from the house on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to take that seriously,” Lawrence said.
When asked what racial injustice will look like during the next four years if Trump is reelected, Lawrence said he is less than hopeful.
“To think about what would happen under four more years of that kind of leadership is very scary,” Lawrence said. “I don’t know what the predictor looks like, but I fear the worst.”
Hassid and Meehan both said it will take the action of multiple presidents to eradicate the deeply rooted problem of racial injustice in America.
“I think this president and the next few presidents are going to ... be a turning point to see where this goes in the future. It could really make or break it,” Meehan said.
Hassid said there is only so much a president can do to fix a centuries-long systemic problem. He said he believes Trump has been hostile around the subjects of racial injustice but that Biden will be more sympathetic.
“I hope that the overall attitude of the country will start to shift back to one of more tolerance instead of people being emboldened to do and say racist things and to treat people as if they don’t matter,” Lawrence said in response to what racial injustice would look like under a Biden administration.
Faheem said she agreed the systemic problem cannot be fixed overnight — that it’s a lot harder to stop something than to start it.
While Lawrence reminded voters that even if laws and policies are passed under a new administration, they don’t all change hearts and minds.
Faheem, an Indian, Muslim woman of color, also explained her own personal experience with racial injustice.
“There was a lot stronger anti-Muslim rhetoric than I think we see now,” Faheem said. “For me, growing up in that community, it was pretty scary. There were concerns of me and my family members, me and my friends, going to our mosque and being able to feel safe.”
Faheem said in order to prevent the increase of fear from minority communities there needs to be action. Lawrence explained that people need to vote for someone who will take that action for marginalized communities.
“You have to put the people in place, regardless of political affiliation, who actually seem like they care about you and the things that happen to you in this country,” Lawrence said. ”You have to put the people who seem to have your best interest in mind in power — vote for those people.”