My grandfather immigrated to the United States when he was a teenager to reunite with his father and start a new life. At the time, post-war Hong Kong promised no stable life, and my great-grandmother struggled to make ends meet. In America, though they remained low-income immigrants their entire lives, and their lives were definitely unstable due to the nature of the jobs — seamstress and waiter — they had, this country gave them the opportunity to build an even better life for successive generations — my parents and me — than staying in Hong Kong would have.
There is something to be said for our country’s democratic system and the relatively stable and safe society we have. The United States’ democracy with free and fair elections ensures all representatives’ power is always finite, so no one person or political party could take power forever to oppress or persecute my apolitical grandparents based on diverging political, social, racial or cultural values. They were free (and they still are, as my grandfather loves to criticize politicians at every chance) to disagree with our government, as well as free to choose to vote, two privileges most of the world do not have; in many places, criticizing governments lands citizens in jail. Criticism, which is necessary for growth at all levels — personal, societal, governmental — is how progress is made. Without Americans critiquing the racism inherent in the Chinese Exclusion Acts and other immigration quotas, both sets of my grandparents would not have been able to build a new life in the United States, and I would not be alive today. If this situation happened in a one-party government, there would have been no opportunity to hold leaders accountable, and blatantly racist laws like the Chinese Exclusion Acts would be cemented as foreign policy forever.
The United States to which my grandparents immigrated is now changing. In the past, both parties in government could disagree over ideological differences yet come together to pass legislation important for all Americans. Today, Washington is mired in political gridlock, in the middle of a pandemic, an election, and an economic depression. Our country is at an important crossroads. No election has ever been more crucial for preserving our democratic process that makes our country a stable, free, and livable place. We Chinese Americans have to vote for Joe Biden not solely for his policies, but overwhelmingly for his respect for and commitment to our democratic system. Otherwise, we will have to continue paying the price with our lives, our freedoms, our businesses, and our culture, as we have already been doing under the current Trump administration. Trump and other Republican politicians legitimize the hatred and the fear of Chinese Americans by not just condoning the discrimination against us by refusing to prevent hate crimes from happening, but also by stubbornly continuing to call the coronavirus as the “China virus.” Americans do not care to differentiate between the cultural differences between a mainland Chinese person and a Chinese American person, so we have become a scapegoat and a target for a pandemic spiraling out of control because our president refuses to see the gravity of the situation and counterproductively refuses to listen to public health experts.
Another four years of Trump will be filled with the consequences of the violence that accompanies the erosion of democracy and stability in our country. Ever since Trump assumed office, hate crimes are on the rise, specifically anti-Asian hate crimes, which are nearing an “alarming level”, according to the UN. This is because Trump is a white supremacist, putting the United States’ stability and safety in an extremely precarious position. Trump recently said in a rally that white people have the best genes, which echoes Hitler and other problematic eugenics leaders. Trump further makes it acceptable for white supremacist groups like Proud Boys to inspire election terror and carry out other hate crimes, such as deliberately infecting people of color with COVID-19 or lighting Chinese people on fire. In refusing to fully and unequivocally condemn white supremacy, Trump has condoned the biggest domestic terrorist threat to our country. This is not what a democratic leader does; this is what a power-hungry tyrant — who wants a system that benefits only him and other white people — does.
Our government has checks and balances for a reason — by dividing power among separate branches, the United States’ founding fathers hoped the new system would prevent a tyrant from taking full control. This division of political power gives us a stability in government that translates into a stable and, to a certain extent, free society. Today, this division of power is slowly being consolidated, because Trump is unchecked by any of the Republican controlled branches (currently, the Senate, and now, the Supreme Court). No Republican politician stands up to him because they are unable to be independent from Trump. If they so much as criticize him, he will publicly launch a tirade against them, using his presidential power to alienate them from the party. Using a position of power against domestic opponents is a worrying sign of a move away from democracy. If Trump’s own party is fearful of speaking out against him, then they’re complicit in this power grab, too. How can we hold our government, particularly our president, accountable if his own party won’t?
Unlike Trump, Joe Biden will not sabotage democracy or the societal stability that depends on having free and fair elections by having postal workers remove mailboxes in order to undermine our country’s electoral system. This move, which occurred in majority Democratic areas, is the blatant suppression of certain groups’ votes (blue votes). He will not undermine the credibility of mail-in ballots or other forms of more accessible voting. Biden will not restrict and attack the freedom of the press, an important part of the First Amendment, by illegally preventing journalists of certain news sources from going to press briefings or labeling news he doesn’t like as fake. Threatening the press is the first step to controlling free speech, one of the hallmarks of the erosion of democracy. Biden also won’t publicly undermine the credibility of truth and facts by blanketing objectivity with uncertainty. He will not lie to the American public. Biden will not propagandize with one favorite media outlet while demonizing all others, unlike Trump, whose reliance on Fox News to support him unconditionally has led many Americans to recognize it as the administration’s state sponsored media. Biden, in essence, will protect the freedoms under the First Amendment, which are important to all of us for being able to express our opinions without censorship by the government; for reading different opinions in the newspaper, even if it’s critical of the those in power; for allowing us to know the truth and make our own decisions about our life.
Moreover, Joe Biden will not call science “fake” and not only disregard the gravity of a pandemic, but also be the single greatest source of misinformation on COVID-19. Biden trusts experts like Dr. Fauci, our nation’s leading epidemiologist, and will not publicly threaten the public health community’s credibility in the middle of a pandemic. He will not blame other countries for the virus while failing to hold himself responsible for the deaths of over two hundred thousand Americans. Biden denounces white supremacy unequivocally. He will ensure a peaceful transition of power and has stated he will accept the results of the election whether he wins or not, a key tenet of ensuring that the leaders we elect remain temporary ones, so that the American people will always have a choice about their leader. Biden promises to win fairly, not by possibly relying on a favorable, conservative Supreme Court to keep him in power, a tactic also known as cheating. If the American people didn’t elect Trump to be president, he shouldn’t get to override 350 million votes to steal a victory that he didn’t win fairly. Biden doesn’t wonder about a lifelong term as president, other words for a power hungry leader, either. In short, Joe Biden has rejected all the premises of becoming the dangerous leader Trump is. That’s because Biden believes in and respects our democratic process, where elections are free and fair; where all leaders have term limits; where freedoms of all Americans, including those of the opposition, are respected and valued.
This election is not about whether you like or agree with Biden or Democrats anymore — it’s about whether or not you want stability. What does stability give to your family and your children, and how would your life change if the violence against us kept increasing the way it does now? I know that without stability, I wouldn’t be able to go to school, visit my grandparents, or take advantage of all the opportunities life has given me. Instability and the erosion of our country’s social fabric would make it normal for people to spit on my family whenever we go to a supermarket to buy groceries. These past four years, Trump has created hatred, division, and chaos in our country. It’s quite clear that he is not even capable enough to lead us through the pandemic, and that is why I am voting Biden/Harris and blue up and down the ballot. State and local elections influence our lives much more than federal politics — the kind of education children get, the kinds of roads we drive on, the kind of local taxes we pay — , and since Republicans cannot detach themselves from Trump’s disasters and stand for instability and personal career gains over what’s best for the American people, it’s important to vote blue. I disagree with Biden or Harris on many policy points. They are by no means my favorite politicians, but I know they will be leaders who will ensure our country remains a stable and livable place, and for that reason alone, I ask you to vote for them.
This article is part of the series “Why We’re Voting Blue and Why, as a Fellow Chinese American, You Should Too.” This series by young Chinese Americans is about what is at stake this election in their eyes and how they are voting in 2020, with each article exploring a different reason why. The WeChat Project is not involved with or endorsed by the Biden campaign or any other group related to the Democratic Party. All views are strictly those of the writers themselves. Read the other articles in our series here.