We are facing one of the most consequential elections in American history, and we find ourselves in a moment where our democracy is profoundly threatened. This is it. We cannot expect to be supported by the leaders in our supposedly democratic system; during Senate hearings for the appointment to the highest court of the land, our new Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett failed to name one of the five protections guaranteed under the First Amendment: the right to protest.
What she was not able to remember, we cannot afford to forget. Protesting has been, and absolutely should be, at the forefront of American minds. As this monumental election approaches, our country has had many reasons to protest—and will face many more.
On Monday afternoon, the nation watched the murder of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man, at the hands of the police. In the days that followed, people have taken to the streets of Philadelphia in response to this unjust killing, carrying out the same essential rights that were grossly forgotten by Barrett just weeks before.
At Haverford College, five miles from where Walter Wallace Jr. was murdered, the campus has erupted into protest over the murder, and over the college administration’s response. Haverford is now in the midst of a strike, as students refuse to participate in campus jobs, classes, athletics or activities until the campus administration recognizes a list of demands formed by BIPOC students. The strike is calling for tangible institutional change for Black students, as well as recognition for the labor of BIPOC students and staff.
On our own campus, we similarly have the opportunity to call out structures of power. In the event of an election where results are challenged, votes are not counted or people of color are intimidated at the polls, we cannot accept injustice. Institutions or candidates that actively support systems of white supremacy and injustice must be targeted and held accountable for their actions. Bowdoin is not exempt from this.
Sunrise Bowdoin is encouraging students to take action in the coming weeks in case vote counting is prematurely stopped or state legislatures begin dismissing votes. In the case of this injustice, Sunrise Bowdoin is encouraging students to strike from all classes for one day and continue subsequently with other nonviolent actions. We endorse this course of action. In the case of the obstruction of democracy, Bowdoin students should exercise their right to protest.
Put simply, all people deserve a democracy where they feel safe and able to express their opinions and political preferences. If this is not the case, and the country falls further into authoritarianism, we must advocate for one another and display our outrage and disapproval.
In addition to protest, though, many of us have another democratic right that we cannot fail to exercise: voting.
We, the Bowdoin Orient Editorial Board, voice our endorsement of Joe Biden for President of the United States and Senator Kamala Harris for Vice President. We cannot accept a fascist leader who openly supports white supremacist groups. Compared to Trump, Joe Biden is the preferable candidate, and he is, in fact, the only choice in this moment for upholding anything resembling a democratic system.
But, it is also important to remember that Biden’s presidency will present its own set of issues. A vote for Biden, for many groups and communities, is a painful one, and not all who are voting for him support his platform. Many of us supported other candidates in the Democratic primary. But we have together chosen to make a sacrifice to vote for a candidate with a platform that is clearly preferable to Trump’s.
However, a vote for Biden is only the first step. Additional steps are required to create a sound and anti-racist democracy.
What is your post-election plan? How will you continue—or start—to hold accountable structures of power? We encourage you, and ourselves, to take the time to question how we will participate in democracy after the election. Just as we rejected systemic racism and inequality under a Trump administration, we must reject them under a Biden administration.
We must remember our First Amendment rights, and we must remind those who forget or ignore them. We must act, and,no matter what happens next Tuesday, we must continue to dissent.
This editorial represents the majority view of the Orient’s Editorial Board, which is comprised of Sofie Brown, Sophie Burchell, Tucker Ellis, Julia Jennings, Diego Lasarte, Nina McKay, Sam Pausman, Ayub Tahlil and Juliana Vandermark.