US President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden are battling for the presidency in a sharply divided United States.
Trump has been focusing on “law and order”, while Biden has been trying to strike a conciliatory note. The Black Lives Matter movement and whether Trump will release his taxes are among the many issues Americans will consider when choosing their president.
As the hotly contested election approaches, Al Jazeera has been speaking to voters across the US, asking nine questions to understand who they are supporting and why.
American Voter Sophia Madana [Al Jazeera]Age: 35 Occupation: Content Strategist Residence: DuPage County, Illinois Voted in 2016: Hillary Clinton Will vote in 2020: Joe Biden
Top election issue: Abolishing US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Will you vote? Why or why not?
“Yes, I will be voting. I vote in every election that I’m eligible to vote in. I think voting is probably the most important thing we can do as Americans. And I firmly believe that it is integral to our democracy. Not only do I vote in every election, but I harass all of my friends and family to vote. This is like a very known thing about me, across my friend groups and family that when an election is coming up, they know they’re going to hear from me.
“I also joined an advocacy group called She Votes Illinois to help get out the vote in Illinois and get more women involved in politics and make sure that their voices are heard and amplified. So [it’s] something I’m very passionate about, and regardless, you know, across party lines, regardless of that, voting is so important, in order to get our voices heard, and I’m always going to vote.”
What is your number one issue?
“Gosh, of course, there are so many, and there’s so many different things that come up every day. It’s hard to pick just one. But I think if I had to, I would say personally for me, it is abolishing ICE [United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement]. I think that ICE is going to be a huge stain on this political era when we look back on 2020. Just thinking about what atrocities we allowed to happen, or we are allowing to happen currently right now – it’s deeply disturbing to me. It’s on my mind all of the time. I can’t stop thinking about it. And it’s important to me that we do whatever we possibly can to abolish ICE, and getting rid of this administration would bring us at least one step closer to that.”
Who will you vote for?
“I will be voting for Joe Biden.”
Is there a main reason you chose your candidate?
“Aside from the fact that he’s not Donald Trump, he is shown a level of empathy that we’ve been lacking in the last four years. He’s truly a leader, he is a unifier. He’s not a divider. I appreciate his experience, and his experience as vice president, I think that he will help bring our party together and begin to heal. A lot of you know, the awful things that have happened in the last four years and push us forward as well.
“I do think him teamed up with Kamala Harris, we have a really good chance of being heard – and pushing things forward and progressing as a nation and for every kind of human being that is a citizen in America and a resident here.”
Are you happy with the state of the country?
“I’m very disappointed in the current state of the country. It’s sad to me, especially the irony of having a slogan that says ‘Make America Great Again’ that this administration has been slowly but surely deteriorating. The integrity of this country, the status of this country, and how we’re looked at across the globe – it’s an embarrassment. There are certainly a lot of things that were going wrong with past administrations that we definitely needed to focus on and pay more attention to, but those things have now just been brought to light for me and in so many different ways.
“Even if we do get a new administration, and here’s hoping to that, that we still have a lot of work to do as citizens to push things forward. But yeah, I’m not happy with the state, the current state of our country, and just how we’re perceived to the world. I know we can do better. We have done better, we have to do better. We’re one of the wealthiest nations in the world, and the way we treat fellow citizens and even people across the world, the lack of respect – it’s just gone. And it’s so disappointing.”
What would you like to see change?
“I would like to see justice reform. Our justice system is pathetic. It’s hard to even call it a justice system, there’s just so much blatant corruption that goes on right in front of our faces that doesn’t get reprimanded. I would like to see that get reprimanded and not rewarded.
“I would like to see an honest effort to slow down climate change, we could be a global leader in this, and we just time and time again choose not to be. We have a real opportunity here to get a great partnership between government and the business sector, the private sector to make something really happen here for future generations.
“I would like to see a reprioritisation of our budget. I want to see more investment in education, I want to see more investment in health care, I want to see more investment in just helping our citizens have a better quality of life. I would like to see a better economy that works for everybody, and not just the richest people to give people an honest chance to be able to build a life for themselves that they deserve. I would like to see a lot of things change.”
Do you think the election will change anything?
“I think really what is going to change, or what needs to change is citizens’ involvement and accountability in what they can do to help create an America that they want to see. I do think that we need to start taking more personal responsibility for having conversations with people and not shying away from them and having them in a way where we lead with empathy. I hope that a lot of things change if the administration changes. And I think on a federal level – yes, I do think it’ll make a difference.
“But if our rhetoric doesn’t change, we’re still in so much trouble if the way we talk to each other doesn’t change. We can’t move forward. You know, we’re in gridlock all the time in the Senate, and in Congress, because our rhetoric doesn’t change. And we know that the GOP has been working on this for the last four decades of just solidifying their stances. We struggle with having open conversations and coming up with collaborative ideas and compromise to make change happen. And so if we, as citizens, are not willing to hear the other side, the people that we elect are not going to be willing to hear the other side. And we’re just going to stay in this gridlock forever. So some things will change. But at the end of the day, we need to do a lot more to make sure that change is real and sustainable.”
What is your biggest concern for the US?
“My biggest concern, among all of these other things, is the spread of misinformation. It’s very concerning to me because you want to tackle a problem, but and you know, you can come up with all these different ways to do it. But if we can’t even agree on what the actual problem is, we’re never going to agree on some of the tactics to be able to fix those problems.
“With misinformation, it guarantees that we’ll never agree on what the actual issues are. And that’s been a struggle for me, personally, at least in the last two years or so just to like, get a grasp on the fact that like, people’s truths are so different. Like, we’re living in two different realities, it almost seems like and if we can’t come together, or come to a consensus on what some of our actual issues are, they’re going to eat us alive. So that is really my biggest concern is that we can’t even agree on problems. And because of the spread of misinformation, and not even, like not knowing where it’s coming from, and not having a solid plan to combat that misinformation is very concerning to me.”
Is there anything we haven’t asked about the election that you want to share?
“I’m just thinking about things that have happened recently with the Supreme Court and how it’s so upsetting and sad that our democracy is being torn apart because of this one person’s passing. I don’t think it’s necessarily just that one thing, but in a way, I hope it mobilises us to see really what’s important here. To see, you know, it’s not really about personal preference in your candidate. This is about democracy versus fascism. It’s about taking back control, and bringing that control back to the citizens, and remembering that these people, these elected officials, work for us, they represent us, we are their boss. We need to do something about this, we need to be the ones that reprioritise and make sure that our elected officials represent that prioritisation of those values. I don’t feel that we are appropriately represented at this point. I don’t think a lot of people agree with the things that are going on in our government, and that needs to change.”