We can stop this vicious reality show where marginalized communities are preyed upon and targeted. This fall, we can vote for change.
For months, Joe Biden has been reminding us that this election is a battle for the soul of our nation. And for the past four years under Donald Trump and Mike Pence, we’ve witnessed how quickly we can lose the ideals and progress we’ve fought for. It is a well-worn sentiment, but it bears repeating: the stakes could not be higher. If we want to fully realize the democratic ideals of fairness and inclusion, there is only one option: we must assign this administration to the dustbin of history. If we don’t, Trump and his allies will further entrench the powers of white supremacy, inequity, and exclusion. Four years have been disastrous; eight years would be catastrophic.
We are not only in a battle for the soul of our nation; it’s a battle for our lives. This administration has callously ignored the needs of the most marginalized among us at every possible opportunity, including LGBTQ Latinx people.
Puerto Ricans have seen—up close and personally—how Trump has targeted the non-white majority to sell his false promises of American greatness. We remember his disastrous response to Hurricane Maria and that disturbing moment when he tossed paper towels into a crowd as if he were at a pep rally, while thousands on the island were dying and crying out for help. It was a moment when he could have shown empathy and made a pledge to help the people of Puerto Rico. But, he did not. Three years later, thousands of families are still recovering from Hurricane Maria.
And history will take note of the thousands that could have survived the COVID-19 pandemic if Trump had only adopted a holistic, science-based public health response, including and especially in Puerto Rico and Florida. But, he failed. And politicians such as Governor DeSantis, who make life and death decisions based on politics instead of science, made the cynical calculation to ignore the advice of the nation’s top scientists and allow our most marginalized to suffer. Trump and his acolytes trafficked in magical thinking, denying the existence of the virus and making decisions that put Americans in harm’s way, especially QTBIPOC (queer and trans-Black and Indigenous people of color) people who are most at risk of falling victim to COVID’s devastating impacts.
These tactics of indifference and devaluation are not mere incompetence, but show how deeply he and his allies do not care for the well-being of those who are the most marginalized. The systemic dehumanization of Puerto Ricans is a stage whisper to his base that he will prioritize white Americans and their supremacy. What’s worse, his actions and rhetoric have inspired others, leading to a recent uptick in hate crimes against Latinx people across the country.
And now, Trump is seeking to disenfranchise voters by undermining the United States Postal Service, which could strip the public of their voice and power to unseat him. Voter suppression has been a key tactic in ensuring that people of color and other marginalized communities do not get to exercise their most fundamental rights. And Trump is shamelessly propagating voter suppression in an attempt to hold onto power.
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This administration has also unleashed a barrage of anti-LGBTQ policies and legal positions, employing hateful rhetoric to agitate his base and fool people into self-destructive, blind allegiance. The results can be lethal. This bias has fueled an uptick in violent anti-LGBTQ attacks and killings.
If fatal violence against trans and gender non-conforming people continues at current rates, we will see the highest number of fatalities since the Human Rights Campaign started collecting data in 2013. And these problems compound each other: trans people of color are fighting for their lives while also battling a pandemic that has disproportionately affected them.
We can stop this. We can stop this vicious reality show where marginalized communities are preyed upon and targeted. This fall, we can vote for change and fight for the dignity of our fellow neighbors, friends, and family.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have pledged to advance equality and build upon the historic strides made toward LGBTQ equality during the Obama administration. They have promised to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, to support and empower transgender and non-binary people, to reverse the trans military ban, to reinstate protections for LGBTQ people experiencing homelessness, to support policies that make it easier to update gender markers, to protect LGBTQ youth from bullying, and to end so-called “conversion therapy.” And that is just a shortlist. They have also committed to better serve Puerto Rico and LGBTQ Puerto Ricans by pledging to help the island recover from Hurricane Maria, and invest in Latinx economic empowerment, education, and access to healthcare.
This November, we can turn the page on an administration defined by anti-Latinx sentiment, anti-Blackness, and anti-LGBTQ animus. We can put an end to an administration that has played politics with Puerto Rican lives. We can remove a president who once said he’d like to swap Puerto Rico for Greenland, calling the island dirty and poor. We can help end the suffering of the people of Puerto Rico who have been met with disaster after disaster—some wrought by nature, and many others by the man who currently occupies the White House. We can choose Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and work to restore dignity and humanity to this country and to all of our lives. We can stop this. We can choose hope.
Alphonso David is the President of the Human Rights Campaign.