Battle for the Battleground State: Voters in Florida Speak Out

A voter casts a ballot in Miami, FL

Red Phoenix correspondent Kallista Mirobel spoke to several Floridians on how they felt going into the 2020 election in the state that is often the nexus of national attention on November 3rd.

By Kallista Mirobel

A month before the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election is set to take place, across the country, hundreds of thousands have already cast their ballots, and millions still feel the pressure as one of the most decisive moments for the future of the world political climate is now in the hands of the American voting population. Though pundits and commentators have made their speculations known in the months leading up to it, the recent new controversies surrounding the tactics to suppress voters, President Trump’s abysmal mishandling of the COVID-19 epidemic (especially in light of his recent diagnosis), and a humiliating political debate early in the month have tossed most former predictions into the trash bin. Though anyone who remembers the run up to the the 2016 election may be understandably skeptical of Biden’s reported 11 point lead over Trump in polls as of this writing, there’s no denying that while the Democrats alienation of a growing voter base more aware of their own corruption and mishandlings, the sentiment of “Anti-Trump” speaks more powerfully than being “Pro-Biden”.

Living in Florida, it being one of the largest and most contested battleground states in the country, there is a unique political climate as election seasons arrive. Voter turnout is a persistent issue in American politics, and many in the country disavow politics entirely, but those in the states so crucial to the final election tallies often swallow their own reservations for the sake of throwing their hat into the ring, as well as out of obligation to enact any influence over their government they’re able to muster.

The Red Phoenix spoke to several Florida residents around the Orlando area, to ask them how they were feeling about voting, whether they planned to at all, and what the election represented to them in a wider sense.

Sierra, 20, understood the election as one mostly against Trump and not for Biden: “Yes I am voting. I feel as though it is important to do your best to influence the change you would like to see in our government in whatever way you can. I’m not exactly excited to vote, but I would love to see a change in leadership in our country and there are better people to take over the position as president rather than Donald Trump and my vote could help get him out of office.”

This sentiment, however, echoes an emotion which stands out this election more than others in recent memory. Damien, 30, said, “I’m not super hype on the choices presented this election. I’m ‘excited’ to help get Trump out of office, but that doesn’t make me excited for Biden.” Raine, 28, was more pessimistic. “Yes, I am voting. Just not wanting another 4 years of Trump. [It’s all] Shitty. Very not excited. Kind of hate it.”

More than ever, not only is the United States preparing for one of the most daunting elections of recent times, but voters themselves are turning out to the polls, not out of genuine motivation to vote for a single candidate, but an obligation to vote against a specific one. Where the Trump campaign’s support has been in a somewhat steady decline towards his most hardline following, the Biden campaign has done little to present any alternative aside from simply not being his opponent. Meanwhile, Trump continues to double down on the fraudulent claims to Biden and Democrats’ “radical left” leanings (wouldn’t that be the dream), resorting to the tried and true echoes of McCarthyism the Republicans and far-right still use to this day. This ongoing trend of lesser-evilism the Democrats have been insistent and frankly reliant on for the better part of the last few decades has done far more to damage faith in the U.S. Electoral system than it has to help it.

As the race begins to close, the same lines drawn during the election in 2016 begin to appear once again, especially in the wake of Bernie Sanders’ second failed attempt at capturing the Democratic Party’s nomination. Those who choose to refrain from the vote often do so out of either distrust for the electoral process, or a principled stand against it,

The Red Phoenix spoke to one such person, Alex, 23, who explained to us, dispute his hatred for Trump, why he wouldn’t be voting this year: “I refrained from voting in 2016 and will refrain again this election cycle. I would vote if a single candidate represented the interests of everyday Americans, such as universal healthcare, or debt forgiveness, or defunding the police and the prison industrial complex, etc. But no candidate comes close to touching on these issues. Since 2016 all political discourse has basically been reduced to “we must defeat Trump”, but this tradition of lesser-evilism stretches back much farther in time. I believe in voting for the candidate one agrees with, instead of being forced to vote against a boogeyman. Nobody wants to go to the polls with a gun to their head.”

Meanwhile, those who chose to participate continue to hold out hope that, no matter how miniscule, their vote could mean everything when it comes to putting an end to the most unpopular presidency of the 21st century. Despite Trump’s attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the US electoral system, those we spoke to did not share this concern. “Although I’m not exactly sure how voting is taken into consideration and counted, I feel strongly that votes are fair and accurate, otherwise what’s the point in voting? If I didn’t feel my vote counted, I wouldn’t vote” said Sierra. Damien also echoed similar sentiments when responding to the question of whether their vote has meaning, “This is a complicated answer and I don’t have the time to get into it right now. Long story: Yes because I have to feel that way. Otherwise, what is the point?”

As American “Democracy” is once again on open display, and enthusiasm for the candidates at an all time low, though differences separate those who chose to vote and not to, the sentiment is shared among everyone that democracy does not simply end at the ballot box. Sierra stated, “I think that participating in any type of rallies or protests or even just handing out or mailing out information to spread the word about how you feel and the importance of other beliefs is important to getting people to see both sides to the story and possibly even change minds for the better.” Damien followed, noting the lack of choice the current system represents, “More political parties. Less “career” politicians.”

Whoever the winner is come November, the battle for the legitimacy of the U.S Democratic process is sure to remain unsettled. As Trump’s camp has already embedded within the voter base that certain aspects of the election are to remain in contention due to fraudulence, for those who chose to vote, the election comes just in time to potentially rid the country of its biggest existential threat. As the rising tide of american facism holds fast and the rest of the country holds its breath for the results come November, this could well be the breaking point for many who still hold faith that their collective voice through voting is enough to stay the most reactionary elements of U.S. society. For those jaded and disillusioned with the current system however, the answer lies elsewhere.

Categories: U.S. News

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