Final Thoughts on the 2020 Election

Stuyvesant students share their thoughts on the upcoming election, President Trump’s past four years in office, and the current state of America.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Cover Image
By Anna Ast

2020 is a year for the history books.

From a deadly pandemic to a global justice movement for Black lives and all things in between, this year has catapulted the U.S.A. into an unprecedented era. Over 220,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus; millions across the globe have united under a cry for overdue social justice. With each passing day, it seems almost as if the magnitude of the world’s problems is so great that events that would have made front pages in ordinary times take to the sidelines. Even in our own neighborhoods, the way we carry out our lives has been fundamentally altered; it's almost as if every individual needs to be a Titan, or an Atlas, each carrying a piece of the world on his or her shoulders.

The year 2020 has essentially redefined global politics and history. It is a year that, by scholarly standards, is so notable that its events could be formed into the document-based questions of future history curricula.

Yet it seems that future history students will have to sit through one final chapter. With November 3, 2020 fast approaching, there are ever-increasing tensions within and between all parties. Junior Student A, who was one of the many students who chose to retain anonymity due to the confidential nature of political opinions, wrote about their political opinions in an e-mail interview. “At Stuyvesant, most people automatically think it's a given that you hate [Trump], or you’re just really leftist. I personally think that the first couple of years of Trump’s time in [office] [were] just fine. I wouldn’t say I ever supported or didn’t support [Trump], but with knowledge of 2020, nominating him was a big fiasco on the GOP’s part,” they wrote. “Unless the current White House finds an alternative to what it's been doing, I don’t think it’s a good idea. America is as stable as an earthquake right now, and selecting a new face to represent it is extremely risky.”

Other students feel more hopeful about the impact of a new presidency on America’s current status quo. For senior Student B, electing a new person in office will reflect the state of America’s current social unrest and need for change. “I’m generally optimistic about the future of America. Trump is a bit of a dumpster fire, but he’s very likely to be out soon,” Student B said. “Biden isn’t the greatest president. On race issues he’s sparse on concrete action, [and] on foreign policy he’s a bit hawkish, but I think he’ll move the ball forward. I’m optimistic because we’re finally rounding a corner on climate change, social awareness of race issues, and new economic schools of thought surrounding stimulus and government spending.”

For others, however, the 2020 election—and its candidates—is just one part of a larger puzzle. “Honestly, I’ve been numb to the ills of America for a long time, so I find it difficult to get angry,” sophomore Levi Simon said. “I’m just tired when the other option is also a bigoted hack, just less so, which is why I’m not exactly spending my time phone banking or writing postcards. I want the DNC and America to do better in the future. Hopefully, [when] Biden is elected they’ll realize what the solution to this country’s problems are and move past neoliberalism.”

Much like Simon, freshman Jennifer Ye believes that each candidate’s personal history reflects strongly on their potential incumbency. “There is no doubt we should be settling for Biden this current election because just to simply put it, Trump doesn’t give a [EXPLETIVE] about anyone besides himself and his green dollar bills.”

Others believe that Trump’s presidency represents the outputs of an intrinsically broken political system. “The fact that we somehow managed to vote [Trump] into office should be an indicator of how this system is a mess,” sophomore Luca Adeishvili said. “[Trump] has refused to condemn white supremacist groups, made a lot of his rhetoric targeted against certain marginalized groups (Muslims, immigrants) and to the opposition (to the point where he thinks they should be dead.) He’s rolled back environmental regulations and tried to attack parts of our democracy in almost every sense of the world.”

As sophomore Sayeb Khan said, “The state of democracy and its inherent flaws have never been put on display so explicitly.”

Much like Adeishivili, freshman Student C strongly believes that the Trump administration has helped perpetuate a standard that reflects America’s own contentious origins. “Why don’t more people realize how disgusting America is?” Student C asked. “We stole this land from indigenous people and tossed them aside, established an economy that profited off the backs of enslaved people, fought a bloody war just to see them endure years and years of systemic opression, [...] and did not let people marry who they love (you don’t decide to be gay!) up until five years ago.” The final straw, in Student C’s view, was electing Trump. “We voted for [Trump], who claimed climate change was a hoax, sat idly while white police officers [continued]to murder Black people and get away with it, and trie[d] to control what women [choose]to do with their bodies,” they said.

Yet for many, it's not just the Trump administration that reflects a broken system and history. It's also some Trump supporters who continue to give the administration power. “[Trump supporters] act like fanatics,” Adeishvili said. “They treat [Trump] like a god and they raise him onto this pedestal. Trump promises to bring us back to a former glory. What former glory? What glory did America have when it spent most of its history destabilizing democracies, supporting fascists, and destabilizing communities even on their own land?”

The final word goes to both Adeishvili and Student C. “We are living in a political nightmare,” Adeishvili declared. “Trump isn’t a virus amongst a usually perfect system. He is the symptom of the diseases that have been plaguing this country for years. Some radical change needs to be made, or else again our democracy will be under threat by people like Trump.”

Student C, drawing from the popular TV series “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” had one final insight: “In the wise words of Avatar Kyoshi, ‘only justice will bring peace.’”