The election’s effect on teenagers

Bowen Deng ’22

The 2020 election is one of the most important of the 21st century. In this turbulent year, the election results will drastically reshape the United States, for better or for worse. Among the many policies and implications to sift through, the candidates’ stance on the issues of COVID-19 and climate change are most relevant to our generation. 

     If teenagers want their lives to return to any semblance of normal, COVID-19 must be dealt with first. Both candidates have promised a vaccine. However, they have different measures for combating the virus before a vaccine is widely available. Biden has a detailed plan on his campaign website, promising free and expanded testing, more emphasis on the opinions of health experts, more supplies for hospital workers and first responders, and many other proposals to deal with the pandemic. His proposals seem to focus on short term sacrifices – putting the pandemic before the economy – for long term benefit, with his belief that “we cannot get the country moving before we control the virus.” 

     Biden has stated that he is willing to shut down the country again if scientists advise it. For teenagers, a Biden election brings promises to flatten the curve, defeat the virus, and hopefully allow businesses and institutions to loosen the restrictions. Yet, if that doesn’t happen, it also holds the possibility of returning to lockdown. Whether or not these promises will be kept remains to be seen, since Biden has backtracked in the past with regards to his proposals. 

     “Under Biden we may see another complete lockdown like we had during the beginning of this virus.” says Joshua Ricefield ’22. “I think that if Trump were reelected we would be seeing the country fully reopen to save the economy.”

Jackson Overton Clark ’19 marches in Center City at the Youth for Black Lives March, August 2, 2020 – Quinn Luong ’22

     As Trump has no publicly available plan with regards to fighting the virus, one can only assume he will do the same things as he is doing now. A Trump reelection would most likely continue the current policy of putting the economy before the virus and attempting to build it back through similar policies of the last four years. Teenagers would most likely have to continue to live with the virus for longer. Our daily life will continue as it is now, and there will still be an increasing case and death count until a vaccine is available. 

     With record-breaking wildfires across Western states such as California and Colorado, it is clear that, if something does not change, our generation and future generations will face the severe consequences of climate change. For the first time, the topic appeared in the presidential debate. Biden’s plan is ambitious and expensive, seeking to transition the United States away from oil and focusing on renewable energy sources while creating new jobs at the same time. Again, even if Biden is elected, it will remain to be seen if this plan will be enacted. If possible, however, it would be a significant step in improving the environment and futures of teenagers.

     Trump has no plan regarding climate change, simply stating that he wants the “cleanest water” and “cleanest air.” Yet, he has advocated for boosting production of oil and natural gas. His response to the pleas of California Governor Gavin Newsom to recognize climate change’s effect on the wildfires was “It will start getting cooler, you just watch” and “I don’t think science knows.” In four years, he has rolled back 72 environmental regulations. It is clear that climate change may not be one of Trump’s concerns, which should be worrying for teenagers.

Somebody must lose, and there will be dissent and bitterness in schools all around the country.

     These two, however, are by no means the most important policies in the minds of everyone. My peers will each have other policies that they place a high emphasis on. 

     But regardless of results, teenagers’ social life is most immediately impacted by the election, and not in a positive way. “A social tempest will occur amongst students of the losing party. Social media will be divisive and caustic, and classrooms will be full of toxic discourse for a period of time,” says Tripp Ronon ’24. 

     Somebody must lose, and there will be dissent and bitterness in schools all around the country.