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Sunday, June 16, 2024

From indictments to disconnect: The polarizing effects of Trump and Biden

The upcoming Summer Olympics in Paris, France have been forced to take a backseat as news cycles begin to focus their content on the presidential race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. 

Although it can be beneficial for young people to be intrigued by politics, most of the discourse surrounding the election has been extremely polarizing. This has caused division within the American youth that is detrimental to our society and democracy. A large reason for this divide is the divisive nature of former President Donald Trump, and the lack of firepower President Joe Biden has to provide a rebuttal. 

Most recently, Trump was indicted on 34 counts of falsifying business records concerning hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, among others. On May 30, a New York jury found him guilty of all counts, marking the first time a former U.S. president has been convicted of felony crimes. The case involved falsifying records to cover up payments meant to influence the 2016 election by concealing potentially damaging information about Trump​​. 

Rather than taking accountability for these actions, Trump did the exact opposite, calling the case a complete witch hunt and blaming the indictments on what he deemed to be an unfair or rigged trial. Trump can be likened to a spoiled child who will blame everyone else for his misdeeds, refusing to take responsibility and insisting that the rules are unfair whenever he is caught. 

This behavior not only undermines the integrity of the judicial system but also sets a dangerous precedent for his followers who will buy into whatever he says, deepening the rifts in American society.  

It is very difficult for somebody like myself who is a believer in American democracy and its foundations to voice that without being reprimanded by Trump zealots who now are fully under the spell that America’s longstanding judicial system is illegitimate. The inability to voice opinions in support of America’s build without it being drawn up as an attack on a political candidate represents the partition in the country.

On the contrary, President Joe Biden, despite his extensive political experience, often struggles to resonate with younger voters. Many young people feel disconnected from Biden, criticizing his lack of dynamic presence and charisma. This has led to a lack of enthusiasm among the youth, who are seeking more inspiring and relatable leaders. According to a recent New York Times poll, only 48 percent of individuals aged 18 to 25 have a favorable view of Biden. 

This disconnect has contributed to toxic discourse in American politics, as young people feel alienated and unheard, deepening the political divide and hampering efforts to unify the nation​. While Trump is a leader who can ignite mass flame for the youth for the wrong reasons, Biden seems unable to ignite even a spark. 

This failure to captivate the younger demographic leaves a vacuum in political engagement, leading to frustration and apathy. Without a compelling left-wing or moderate figure to rally behind, young people have defaulted to attacking Trump. The constant attacks on Trump have led to his faction becoming even more radical, leading them to attack back, creating an extremely contentious and toxic dynamic. 

If Biden could simply connect with and inspire young voters by addressing their concerns and demonstrating genuine engagement, rather than struggling to read from a teleprompter, he could mitigate some of this division and foster a more positive political environment.

The shortcomings of both leading candidates have significantly contributed to the current division within the United States. Trump's refusal to take responsibility and his divisive rhetoric have polarized his followers, undermining trust in the judicial system. Meanwhile, Biden's inability to connect with younger voters has led to a lack of enthusiasm and engagement, further deepening political divides. 

Together, these issues have fostered a contentious and toxic political environment that contradicts the core American values of unity and democratic discourse.

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Max Rappoport is a UF tourism, hospitality and event management junior. 

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