In less than three weeks, Montclair State University students, faculty, staff and millions of other New Jerseyans will cast their votes in what has been called the most important presidential election of our lifetime.
While the election is receiving attention everywhere from newsrooms to classrooms, the decisions made on one’s ballot regarding local government and state policy are just as important, if not more.
The past four years have undoubtedly been the most politically polarizing in decades. Not only that, but four more years of a Trump administration would certainly extend this era of hatred amongst the American people, whereas an election of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden would create an opportunity to turn a new page and begin a reunification of the United States.
It is clear to The Montclarion, to young people at Montclair State and to those across the nation, that Joe Biden is not at all our first choice to take presidential office.
However, as unpleased as we may be with his too-moderate agenda, including a problematic career in the Senate and him being out of touch with our demographic, we must recognize how detrimental a continued Trump administration would be in regards to the Black Lives Matter movement losing traction, continued inaction in the climate change crisis and an unnecessarily politicized response, or lack thereof, to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Even putting policy aside, it would be difficult to admit changes that do not need to be made. Politically charged American-on-American crime has ignited between radical political groups like Antifa, the Proud Boys and other hate groups. Many common citizens feel uneasy attending family gatherings because of the political arguments that too often break out.
While President Trump has continually added fuel to the fire, a common talking point for Biden over the past several months has been how he will be a president who governs on behalf of all Americans, not just those who voted for him. We believe him and for that, The Montclarion endorses him.
Subsequently, The Montclarion endorses the reelection of Cory Booker to Senate, who has been senator for seven years now. He has been the primary sponsor of nine different enacted bills, including the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019 and a bill to grant state rights to reallocate funds to support clean drinking water.
Booker has been an active lawmaker in support of combatting the climate change crisis, protecting women’s reproductive rights and establishing support systems for the racially disenfranchised.
While these accolades are certainly commendable and we, The Montclarion, support Booker’s reelection, a portion of the ballot that every eligible New Jerseyan votes with is more important than any local, senate or presidential election.
On the back of each New Jersey ballot there are three public “yes” or “no” questions. The first question is for the approval to amend the Constitution to legalize marijuana, the second to amend the Constitution to provide tax breaks to peacetime military veterans and the third to amend the Constitution to allow redistricting when a census is delayed.
In order to finally put an end to the counterproductive and grossly unjust incarceration of millions of Americans for non-violent “crime,” which in reality has actually been proven to aid those suffering from physical and mental illness, the legalization of marijuana must be passed.
In order to protect those who willfully risk their lives, regardless of the current standing of American military conflict, tax breaks must be given to military veterans and their spouses.
In order to make sure that districts are drawn in such a way to provide fair governmental aid to the most impoverished and underprivileged areas of the state and country, a census must be required to redraw districts so those who rely on governmental aid do not go overlooked, and their emergence out of economic strife may not be delayed any longer.
These three questions give each New Jersey voter the power to directly change lawmaking. We can elect politicians to office and hope they follow through with the promises they make, but too many times, they do not. These three questions provide us with the rare opportunity to take matters into our own hands.
Just how Vice President Biden has recognized the responsibility of the president to govern on behalf of all Americans, we hold our own obligation, that is, to vote on behalf of all Americans.
We are in dire need of healing and voting with compassion is our best medicine.