Breakdown of Democratic and Republican platforms for student voters

This election season has been as chaotic as the year 2020. Both parties had a lot to answer for in order to sway voters to their side, including racial tensions, a pandemic, and climate change. How both parties decided to address these issues provided a thorough look into the beliefs held by voters on both sides and the division of American values.

On Racial Justice 


Sparked by the death of George Floyd, protests and calls for action spread like wildfire through the streets of America. Both candidates tried to appeal to what they believe the country wants from a president in a time of civil unrest. 

In his case to the nation, Democrat Joe Biden focused on peace and encouraging diversity. This was reflected in his choice of Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate. The Democratic national convention spent considerable time delving into the humble roots of Harris and how as the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, her life is the epitome of the American Dream. Her parents met while marching together during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. 

The first female vice presidential candidate on a major party ticket was Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, Sarah Palin followed in 2008 and Harris will be the first black female vice presidential candidate. 

The DNC also chose to focus mainly on the peaceful protests throughout the country, even inviting the family of George Floyd to speak. Holding a moment of silence for those lost to police brutality and Biden later quoting Floyd’s daughter in his own keynote speech, the Democrats made an effort to show they were on the side of those who wanted change in America’s justice system.

The DNC convention also included a tribute for the late civil rights activist John Lewis, who passed over the summer. Speakers frequently referenced the “good trouble” he so often spoke of.  

Although Biden has stated that he will not defund the police, as many protests have requested, these tributes still associate the heroics of the 1960’s Civil Rights movement to the current protests. In the eyes of Democrats, the Black Lives Matters movement is one of resilience and courage that will help keep America safe and just for all.



President Donald Trump and other RNC national convention speakers focused less on peaceful protests and characterized the unrest as violent riots that threaten the safety and security of the American people. 

Convention speakers spoke many times on the “dangerous,” “destructive” and “chaotic” looting and vandalism that they associated with protests. 

Speakers such as Mark and Patricia McCloskey of St. Louis, who were arrested for waving guns at protestors on a street near their home, claimed that Biden would defund the police, despite Biden’s stance against it. They made the case that if he was elected, quiet neighborhoods could turn violent. 

Republicans emphasized the chaos of the riots by mentioning that statues of great American heroes like Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Linclon and Frederick Douglass were torn down by protesters. Speakers did not make the reason behind the dismantling clear or that the Frederick Douglass statue had been controversial since its erection in 1899.

The Republicans also made an appeal to religious conservatives in Donald Trump Jr.’s speech. When discussing how CDC guidelines have placed restrictions on citizens’ daily routines, Donald Jr. said, “You’re not allowed to go to church, but chaos in the streets gets a pass.”

By summing up concerns many Republican families have about racial protests and anger against police, the Republicans drove home their grand point–If a Democrat is elected, justice won’t be served for all Americans and the country will succumb to the power of dangerous radicals.




Just by observing the convention, one could see how Democrats feel about the coronavirus. Biden and Harris took interviews seated six feet apart from each other and when they weren’t giving speeches, they were wearing a mask. 

They made a point to credit scientists with providing the best insight on how to proceed. “Trusting the science” was the phrase on everyone’s lips. They believe that the best way to eradicate and move on from COVID-19 is to listen to advice from doctors and other public health officials like NIAID director, Anthony Fauci.

One of the goals of the convention was also to focus the blame of the consequences of the pandemic on the current president. This included having both former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama speak about their concern over the damage America has faced due to the virus being downplayed.

Over the course of their campaign, the Democrats have made a point to show how they are following CDC guidelines, showing their loyalty to doctors and their medical insight, and how they believe the country would have benefited from a more immediate presidential response.



Taking almost the direct opposite approach, Republicans decided to show how America is already bouncing back from the pandemic.

Masks were not a common sight and attendees were certainly not six feet apart. Keynote speeches by VP Mike Pence, the First Lady and the President were done in front of live audiences with spectators seated together within close proximity. Later, when judge Amy Coney Barrett was announced as the candidate for the Supreme Court, Trump’s administration again went mask-less.

Trump said he reacted in a timely manner to the outbreak by closing travel from China and Europe, claiming the worst effects of the virus are in the past.

Director of U.S. National Economic Council Larry Kudlow spoke about when the country was falling apart, “presidential leadership came swiftly and effectively…”

Kudlow cited a rising economy and a housing and manufacturing boom along with many Americans returning back to work as evidence of Trump’s capable leadership.

Throughout the night, Republicans occasionally chose not to call the virus by its medical name, instead opting for a Trump-coined phrase, the “China virus.” First emanating from a presidential tweet, this phrase sheds a light on how the President wants the public to view the virus. 

In the early months of 2020, Trump emphasized he enacted a ban on American travel from China. He and his staff credit this quick action with the healthy state of the country now. Republicans tended to place the blame of the pandemic not on their reaction, but China’s. They believe that the Chinese government doctored the numbers of infected and should have informed neighboring countries sooner than they did.



Although the parties had drastically different views on the virus they did share one: that the help of healthcare workers this year has been invaluable. Both parties spent time at their conventions thanking the hard work of doctors and other healthcare officials that cared for those infected with COVID-19. President Trump hosted a meet and greet of sorts at the White House, inviting several nurses and doctors,while Biden opted for video conference calls with a select group of healthcare workers.  


On Climate Change

The majority of both conventions were spent trying to convince voters not to vote for the opposing party; however, talk about climate change did have its time to shine at the DNC. In Biden’s acceptance speech, he acknowledged that a rapidly changing climate would be a crisis that would jeopardize the whole world, not just America.

Striking an optimistic tone, Biden stated that climate change could be an opportunity for “America to lead the world in clean energy and create millions of new good-paying jobs in the process.”

The discussion of climate change was non-existent at the Republican convention however. This doesn’t come as a shock to most as Republicans, and especially Trump, have been very vocal about the low risk climate change has on the world and some raise doubt that humans are the cause in the first place. Trump pulled America out of the Paris Agreement, an accord signed by various countries in the UN pledging to reduce greenhouse gases and to find new ways to reduce climate change.


What This Means for Students

When voting, trying to see both sides of the political landscape and making a well informed and educated choice is the most balanced approach. It is imperative that one is well researched about all elections before arriving at the polling station, or perhaps this year, before mailing in a ballot. Remember, district representatives and local amendments affect the community on a daily basis.


The Big Picture

Two divergent visions of America are being presented for voters: One where a racial revolution is finally penetrating years of systemic racism and another where dangerous liberals have spurred violence and wreaked havoc in the streets of the nation. One where a pandemic has pummeled through the nation but reconstruction is possible without too much effect on normal lives and another where the virus needs to be taken more seriously and experts need to be listened to more closely. One where climate change is a very real threat that demands immediate attention, and one where climate change is still a mystery.

Both parties decree this election as the most consequential of our lifetime, stressing the importance even one vote can make.