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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

ABEL: In response to Nguyen; Go celebrate Biden’s victory.

The right to vote is too precious to be toyed with, denied, manipulated or sacrificed in the name of “liberation.”
Emery Little
Joe Biden’s victory is a testament to the resilience of our democracy; let’s celebrate it. (Hustler Communications/Emery Little)

I cast my first vote two weeks ago from my dorm room. I read the instructions sheet at least six times and checked my ballot over and over to make sure I’d done it correctly. I wore my “I voted” sticker everywhere I went for the next few days, proudly displaying my pride at having done my civic duty. My eyes were glued to national news coverage for three days straight; I was excited that my vote was going to help dismantle the system of hatred and division that currently defines our nation. After Joe Biden was announced as president-elect, my floormates and I jumped up and down and screamed in the hallway.

I celebrated Joe Biden’s victory.

Last week, I read Danny Nguyen’s article “Do not celebrate Biden’s victory. Electoral politics have no role in liberation,” and I was shocked. Nguyen’s claim that my “liberation will not come from voting” is blatantly incorrect. To me, liberation is the ability to select leaders who will make decisions for me. Liberation means the freedom to choose. Liberation, on the whole, comes when groups have equal economic and social opportunities; voting is one of the most important ways we can achieve this. 

My vote gives me an opportunity to speak up for what I believe in and be a force of change in my country. 

We have just experienced the most divisive, dishonest and vitriolic administration in American history that attacked the very ideals we hold as Americans. Donald Trump has not spent a single day of his presidency trying to be the president for all the people. Trump has always been a clear danger to the integrity of our democratic system, trashing norms in ways no other presidents would dare. The Trump administration has shattered our American vision: E Pluribus Unum, the American dream, the equality of all who live here. 

Nguyen makes a good point in saying that the United States does not have a true democracy. There are countless flaws with the way our government is structured, however, this election was not the time to address them. This election was not about systemic, structural change, but the removal of a leader who threatens national safety, the rights of minority groups and the notion of fair and free elections. 

Although the election didn’t bring the stinging repudiation for Trump that Democrats had hoped for, more than half of American voters still rejected him. His defeat marks the first time in 28 years that a president has been turned out after a single term. A broad coalition of traditionally Democratic voters, Republican voters and independents formed with the single goal of voting Trump out of office. Biden won the highest number of votes of any presidential ticket in history, ever.

Biden’s victory and Trump’s defeat serves as a testament to the resilience of our nation. We did not become a nation where bullies like President Trump can succeed through disorder, apathy and demonizing minorities. Americans resisted in an overwhelming manner, turning out in record-breaking numbers to have their say. Americans stood in line for hours to vote, even weeks before Election Day. Voting officials combatted Trump’s attacks by adhering to their responsibility and ensuring that citizens could cast ballots. 

If that is not a testament to the strength of our vote, I don’t know what is. 


Divesting from the system

To suggest that our role is to “divest” from the system in which we live, the status quo for the past few centuries, is illogical and contradictory to the change we desire. We currently live in a two-party system where there are two mainstream choices. For many voters, this election was not about bringing structural change to the system, but voting President Trump out of power. In this election, not voting at all would have been like a vote for Trump. 

Nguyen’s argument about abstaining from the vote reveals the very real elitism that keeps us confined to our campus bubble. There are real and important issues that need to be addressed in our Vanderbilt community and in our world at large. 

Telling people to divest from our system of government is not one of them. 

In order to truly achieve the social change that Nguyen wants, we should not be telling others what they can and cannot do. Call-out culture is not activism. Nguyen’s article insinuates that the only way to make change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people. That is not activism or meaningful change. Pointing the finger at others is easy to do—and it’s not going to get you very far.  

History will not remember those who divested from our government system. History will record that in this dark time for our democracy, Americans rose to the moment by voting to preserve our nation.


Disenfranchisement of Minorities 

The argument that voting will never achieve liberation for minorities is fundamentally incorrect. There’s a gap in voter turnout between white people and people of color—a gap that has an impact on election outcomes and on our democracy. Today’s structural racism and inequality of access to voting are deep-rooted and bipartisan. 

Telling marginalized groups—who fought with blood and tears for their rights in our nation—that they should not vote is unbecoming of our democracy. Voter suppression stands to affect every Black community in the United States, so why are we encouraging these citizens not to vote? Abstaining from the vote does more harm to the disenfranchised communities that you name than voting does. 

Biden’s victory revealed the power of the Black vote, the power of grassroots organizations, leaders like Stacy Abrams and John Lewis and the value of every single vote. That’s why it’s upsetting that one would suggest that anyone sits out an election. The right to vote is too precious to be toyed with, denied, manipulated or sacrificed in the name of “liberation.” 

I was not always a Biden supporter. However, as soon as Biden was announced as the Democratic presidential candidate, I knew that showing support was the right thing to do; it was too important to vote Trump out of power. To suggest that individuals divest from the system that governs us is counter to social change and progress. We live in a two-party system at the moment, and we only have two options. 

I agree that we should not venerate Biden and Harris as celebrities, but we must recognize that the time for a complete overhaul of our democratic system is not right now. 

Danny, my vote did give me liberation from being part of a political system I couldn’t participate in. This was the first time I could have a say in the decisions that affect me. I cast my vote for Biden on behalf of my younger siblings who are too young to vote but have so much to say. I cast my vote for Biden on behalf of my high school teachers and college professors who are risking their lives behind plexiglass barriers. I cast my vote for Joe Biden on behalf of my LGBTQ+ family members, who deserve to feel valued for who they are. I cast my vote for Joe Biden not only because it is a responsibility but because it is a privilege. My vote may be “blindly upholding the American dream,” but I am proud of my choice and I believe that communities I care about are better for it. 

Yes, there are real worries about our democracy. There is meaningful change that needs to be brought about by this administration. Our country has a lot of work to do to restore the virtues of civility, compassion, compromise and cooperation. It is our responsibility to keep our leaders accountable for their promises. 

But before turning to them, let us pause and, yes, celebrate.

View comments (9)
About the Contributors
Zoe Abel
Zoe Abel, Former Opinion Editor
Zoe Abel (‘24) is from Washington, D.C., and is a student in the College of Arts and Science. She is majoring in medicine, health and society and child development with minors in biology and French on the pre-med track. In her free time, Zoe loves distance running, good music, coffee and telling terrible dad jokes. She is also an avid Oxford comma advocate. You can reach her at [email protected].  
Emery Little
Emery Little, Former Social Media Director
Emery Little (‘22) is from Birmingham, AL. She majored in communication of science and technology and Spanish. In her free time, she loves to design graphics, follow tech news and run her photography business. She can be reached at [email protected].
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Comments (9)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
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3 years ago

While I certainly agree that a collective group of people is enfranchised by equal voting rights, a single person isn’t. It’s one vote, in a sea of millions. While anyone that thinks they would be a competent voter should vote, no one should vote thinking their vote will make a difference. Our vote doesn’t empower us individually. The election will go one way or another, regardless of whether any single person votes or not.
While I voted for Biden this election, I regretted it the next day. It is depressing that our country elected Biden and Trump in the primaries. Two incompetent candadites, both of which has extremely unjust ideologies. As a person with extremely different views from the Democratic and Republican parties, I believe that my vote should go to the candadite that is close with my views, and has a chance at making a real difference.
Trump sure was a terrible president that has threatened our very democracy, but Biden sure won’t progress our country. What will he do, tax the rich a tiny bit more, and make decisions about the pandemic that any non-spontaneous, unbiased person would make? People are excieted about Biden because he will bring a sense of normalcy, but why should we accept an incomptent government that has a system of moderate capitalism, which is doomed to systemically disenfranchise the poor at unacceptable, unexplainable levels (and of which in our country, also disenfranchises minorities)?
Pehaps if a mild capitalist like Elizabeth Warren, or an economic centrist like Bernie Sanders were to be the Democratic primary candadite, I would vote for them (I am still debating myself about that), but I deeply regret someone as unacceptable as Joe Biden, and as long as there is a significantly better third-party alternative, I will never vote for someone like him again.

VU Alumnus
3 years ago
Reply to  Student

“…economic centrist like Bernie Sanders…”
Please tell me that is a joke.

3 years ago
Reply to  VU Alumnus

You might think Sanders isn’t a centrist, but the reality is that we live in an echo chamber of capitalism. America’s version of leftism is still quite economically capitalistic. Consider the full economic scale that exists. Pure capitalism is complete economic freedom. Pure socialism is complete economic equity.
Sander’s economic ideologies are quite progressive compared to literally every mainstream American politician, but still gives a lot of room for capitalistic systems. Sanders does not propose a socialist structure, proposes a moderately progressive tax rate, believes in a capitalist version of healthcare (he proposes a very basic plan of free, universal healthcare, something that is accepted, and possibly too conservative, by liberals and conservatives alike in literally every developed country except America), believes in a progressive divestment away from fossil fuels, etc.
At most, Sanders could be considered a social democrat. While Sanders presents some ideas that would align with socialists, he also has capitalist ideologies, and he fails to present any serious socialist economic system, still advocating for the capitalist system we have today. Perhaps one could argue that Sanders leans more to socialist ideologies, but it is ignorant to blantantly say that Sanders is a socialist based on the conservative propaganda (and strangely, liberal propaganda, despite it being clearly unfavorable to call oneself a socialist considering the spontaneously-driven stigma of socialism in America today) that is clearly based on zero consideration for what the word actually means.

Last edited 3 years ago by Student
Vanderbilt Parent
3 years ago

I’m not entirely sure this comment section understands the point of the article. The writer is not glorifying a Biden presidency, she’s arguing that Nguyen’s article made little sense in the current election season. This writer actually defines liberation and does not rely on a liberal thesaurus of buzzwords to make her argument.
To the commenter who said this piece glorified Biden- Abel admitted she was not always a Biden supporter and argued that we “should not venerate Biden and Harris as celebrities.” She is clearly in no way thrilled that her first vote was cast for Biden, but understands the constraints of a two-party system and the importance of voting out Donald Trump. She is arguing, I believe, that voting out Trump is the first step in a long journey towards equality. Voting seems to be her key issue here.
I would also commend both writers for putting themselves out there- that’s not easy. I advise both Abel and Nguyen not to let the comments calling you ignorant get to you. You are doing much more for your Vanderbilt community than “anon” commenters hiding behind a computer screen. Know that many of us out here are proud of you!!

3 years ago

I think you misunderstood the comment section. It seems to me that the commenters are aware of the author’s dismay of Biden. The problem they (and I) have with the author is that they are willing to accept it. They specifically said that they were proud to vote for Biden. That means that while they may not prefer Biden, they find him an acceptable candadite. Perhaps I’m wrong, and the commenters misinterpreted the article, but still, I find it perplexing that people are perfectly fine with Biden’s victory, and that people actually support candadites like Biden and Trump. It seems to me that the candadites from the Green, Alliance, and Libertarian parties are clearly better candadites than Biden or Trump, regardless of what one’s ideologies are. Yet people simply go on the bandwagon, or base their opinions on the confidence and appeal of candadites over their competence. People value tribalism over analysis of ideologies. There are people that even stigmatize people for breaking away from the polarizing two-party system. The author goes out of their way to attack the views of someone that has rejected conformity. Not to say that the author is a bad person or anything. But the commenters that disagree with the author reject Biden as an acceptable candadite.

3 years ago

While this is well-meaning, the idea that this country can return to its “values of virtue” really shows how ignorant you are to the strife of working class and black peoples. Your definition of liberation is shallow at best and at worst, insulting to every black and indigenous organizer that’s actually fighting for their liberation. This country was built on exploitation and genocide. Today’s political unrest is not a “lack of civility” , seriously? This is the real America. You say this election is not the time? Then when is it? With all due respect, Please learn about how neither of these parties work for any of the groups you claim to care about so that you can understand why we shouldn’t celebrate Joe Biden’s win. No one is saying don’t celebrate beating Trump, but to be happy about Joe Biden is to blind yourself from the realities of this country that existed way beyond Trump and insult the work of millions of people.

You're Missing the Point
3 years ago

This article is equally as ignorant as the one you are responding to. Yes it’s good that we voted Trump out. However, please think critically about who we just voted into office. Joe Biden is a warmonger, rapist, racist, and one of the main architects of mass incarceration. Don’t pat yourself on the back for voting a (lesser) evil into office. And please don’t invoke the well-being of minorities as a justification for voting for Biden, because it’s fairly obvious nothing will fundamentally change for those groups under a Biden administration. Voting for Biden served one purpose and one purpose only: To get Trump out of office. Don’t pretend we’ve been “liberated” or that we’ve somehow put the country back on track. Black people will still be murdered by police, the rich will still get richer while the poor are crushed by debt, and the U.S. war machine will still slaughter innocent children in the Middle East.

Vandy Alumni
3 years ago

I disagree with the commenter above. I think this article provides a much-needed contrast to Nguyen’s. The article is not so much celebrating Biden’s victory as it is celebrating the coalition of voters who assembled against trump. I would applaud Ms. Abel for tackling such a difficult political response piece with grace.

3 years ago

Is this not what the other article argued