Let’s Talk about Joe Biden and Donald Trump

Leah Lentz, Writer

Former Vice President Joe Biden and current President Donald Trump are the prospective candidates for the 2020 election in November, which is almost certainly still going to happen. We’re gonna go over the candidates’ resumes, voting histories, and other notable actions they have taken. We will not be looking at their claims or plans, but I’ve already covered Biden’s views in this article from January, and they haven’t changed since then.

Joe Biden

Joe Biden was born in 1942 in Scranton, PA, to two very Catholic parents. His family had recently struggled financially, eventually leading them to move to Delaware and settle into a middle class lifestyle. He went to school at the University of Delaware with majors in political science and history. Once he graduated, he went on to study law at Syracuse. In 1972, he ran for US Senate and won, launching his political career. He would remain an active member of the Senate until 2009, at which point he became Vice President under the Obama administration. From 2009-2016, he served as VP, and once Obama’s term ended, Biden began publicly speaking and criticizing the Trump administration.

In the past, Biden has voted conservative; however, at the start of the millennium, his votes began to shift towards liberal views. Note that Joe Biden is by no means a liberal candidate, and if anything, his views align closest with centrism. In 1996, Biden voted to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, but later proved the shift in his views by pushing Obama to legalize same-sex marriage. In 2001, he voted in favor of the No Child Left Behind Act, an act linking school funding to standardized test scores, which would later be repealed in 2015. In 2005, Biden voted against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act which would disable those hurt by gun violence to sue gun manufacturers. 

One cannot discuss a president without discussing his history with human rights, and Obama was no exception. To name a few of the most notable, he did not react in a timely manner to the human rights violations occurring in Syria, which enabled the growth of terrorist groups and the deaths of hundreds of thousands at the hands of their own government. Furthermore, in the Middle East, the Obama administration granted Israel aid despite war crimes in Gaza. It was also deafeningly silent on the situation in Yemen, which culminated in civil war in 2015, and has had devastating and lasting consequences. One may argue that Biden did not directly sign off on any of these, but by all accounts, he did not object either. It can also be suspected that because of his position, Biden likely played a major role in implementing these actions.

Perhaps it is not a good thing to have the nickname of “Creepy Uncle Joe”, which was a nickname for Biden within the news cycles up until last year when women began to come forward and accuse him of being, well,  creepy. It is notable that none of these accusers described his behavior as being sexual in nature, just weird and intimate. He touched noses with one woman, kissed another’s head, and has even been noted to have sniffed a woman’s hair. Most women who have come forward have described the encounters as uncomfortable. Only one woman, Tara Reade, has filed a criminal complaint against him. She reported that he pushed her against a wall and penetrated her with his fingers, and when she pushed him off, he said he thought she liked him.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump was born in 1946 in Queens, New York. He attended Fordham University but later transferred to Wharton School of Finance, and graduated with a degree in economics. He began to expand upon his father’s real estate company, founding the Trump Organization, Trump Casino Chain, and Trump Tower, as well as multiple tv franchises including The Apprentice, which rose to international fame very quickly. Unfortunately, Trump has no political experience outside of his current term in office. He does have business experience, obtaining a notable $2.1 billion in net worth. These billions have not been without controversy – Trump has drawn legal controversy specifically relating to the Fair Housing Act and Trump University. In 1973, Trump and his father attracted a federal lawsuit stating that he encouraged his employees not to rent to African-American people, which was exposed after a rental was denied to an African-American man, but the same rental was nearly handed to a white woman. There was no admission of guilt, and the case was settled outside of court. A little over three decades later, Trump would come under fire for providing a series of classes that plaintiffs argued  were of minimal value. Despite this, in 2016, he won the presidential candidacy in the Republican National Committee, and proceeded to beat democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the race for president.

In regards to Trump’s behavior in office, he has definitely demonstrated more conservative viewpoints. Considering that he is a conservative president, this is pretty standard. Notably, he pulled out of the Paris climate deal, banned transgender people from serving in the military, and rescinded a DACA policy which allowed children of immigrants tohave citizenship by being born in America. He also got rid of the requirement that healthcare companies cover birth control and enforced new restrictions on the Title X Family Planning Program, which provides federal funding for birth control methods and other associated family planning materials. These restrictions banned clinics that use Title X funding from doing abortions in the same space. Notably, throughout his 2016 campaign and in many rallies while in office, Trump has made a point to mention his increases on border control, specifically implementing a wall that he had long supported throughout his campaign. This unfortunately came with a family separation program which many called inhumane. In terms of wartime behavior, Trump cut refugee allowances, sanctioned Iran, and assassinated General Soleimaini. Notably, Trump was impeached but acquitted in the Senate, the only president ever to be acquitted during an impeachment trial. Most recently, he suspended immigration in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. 

Again, the presidency comes with a slew of human rights abuses committed overseas. In 2019, the Department of Defense reported that in 2018, 120 civilians had been killed and 65 injured in operations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia, with none in Yemen or Libya; however, independent researchers later argued that this number was much higher. Trump has made a point of criticizing China’s behavior specifically in relation to the “Re-education” centers in Xinjiang, intended to force Uighur Muslims to change religions and abandon Allah, and the treatment of protesters in Hong Kong who are rallying to maintain democracy. 

Trump has been accused of sexual assault or harassment by at least seventeen women. Some of the more notable cases include that of Jill Harth, who sued him for groping and harassing her in the early nineties, but later settled outside of court. Bridget Sullivan, former Miss USA contestant (which Trump owns), stated that Trump would often enter the changing rooms at the competition while the girls were half nude. He confessed to this in an interview with Howard Stern in 2005, which you can read about here. Trump has also had multiple scandals, most infamously his lawsuit with pornstar Stormy Daniels, who alleged that he paid her hush money to keep their affair a secret. Trump has denied all of these allegations.

Sources Cited:

Biography.com — Joe Biden

Biography.com — Donald J. Trump

Politifact – How do Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders’ Voting Records Compare?

Human Rights Watch — Barack Obama’s Shaky Legacy on Human Rights

Vox — The controversy over Joe Biden’s treatment of women, explained

AOL – Trump Timeline

JustSecurity.org — The Pentagon’s 2018 Civilian Casualties Report: What’s In It and What’s Next

ABC News – List of Trump’s accusers and their allegations of sexual misconduct

Vox – A sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden has ignited a firestorm of controversy 

BBC – Data leak reveals how China ‘brainwashes’ Uighurs in prison camps 

NPR – Decades-Old Housing Discrimination Case Plagues Donald Trump

The New Yorker – The Enduring Scandal of Trump University

Bonus – Here’s the podcast where Tara Reade tells her story.