“I think what all moms and parents want is a return to some ‘normalcy’ for our kids.”
Erin Torres is working from her home in California with an infant and a three-year-old underfoot, trying to juggle the demands of her job with Zoom preschool and an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Her roles as an employee, mother, and preschool teacher ring true for millions of women across the country who are finding themselves stretched to the point of breaking under the duress of parenting during a pandemic.
“I feel like I’m constantly on the edge of losing,” she told COURIER.
She’s not alone—far from it. Her story is part of an echo chamber of mothers who are channeling their collective anger and frustration into votes for Joe Biden in November.
These mothers have had enough.
Heather M., a mother of two boys in the Denver metropolitan area, believes a Biden presidency is the only way out of the pandemic. “I think what all moms and parents want is a return to some ‘normalcy’ for our kids,” she said. “And we cannot have that until we have a real response to this pandemic. I know that will improve under literally any other president, but I have faith that Biden’s trust in the experts is what will get us out of this mess.”
Despite President Donald Trump’s attempt to convince the country that “suburban housewives” will vote for him in droves as they did in 2016, for many suburban women—mothers in particular—that simply isn’t true. A recent NPR/PBS poll found that 66% of suburban women said they disapproved of Trump’s performance as president overall, and 58% said they “strongly disapproved.”
With women voters overall, Biden has a 25% lead over Trump, according to data collected from The New York Times. “Suburban housewives,” as it turns out, are looking for a more multifaceted, honest person to move into the White House in January 2021.
“I do feel like Biden is a steady presence with a conscience and empathy,” Heather M. said. “We are literally dying as a society under [Trump’s] leadership, and Biden is just a real human being whom I trust.”
Christy Harder, an airline employee who belongs to a union and mom based in South Carolina, agrees. “The differences you see [when you belong to a union] in management are drastic. You’re valued through your benefits, you’re valued through your hours and different perks. You have somebody that’s in your corner. And it’s really important when you’re a blue-collar worker to have somebody in your corner that’s willing to fight for your job.”
“I can look at [Biden’s] family background and I can look at where he grew up and how he raised his family and I know that those are values that I hold dear as a union employee and a mother and somebody who wants a future.”
Beyond the Trump administration’s catastrophic lack of federal response to the ongoing pandemic and the president’s sexist views—such as the recent revelation that he told former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to “take one for the team” after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un winked at her in 2018—it’s his policy plans (or, for some, a lack thereof) that will be his undoing for these moms.
Each proposal under Biden’s presidential platform is beginning to spark something in them that has been dormant since November 2016: hope.
While Torres’ parents are able to assist with child care, she knows the impact of making child care a feasible possibility for families by improving cost and quality. “The fact that child care is so expensive for some families that it is not even worth working outside the home is baffling,” she said. “I do not for one second take advantage of my privilege and I think any opportunity to level the playing field for other families is wonderful.”
Last month, Biden unveiled a $775 billion plan that aims to lessen the financial burden of childcare on families across the country and also invest in early childhood education.
“Even before the pandemic, millions of working families were faced with enormous personal and financial strains, trying to raise their kids,” Biden said. “We can make high-quality child care affordable and accessible.”
Ashley Austrew, a freelance writer based in Nebraska, believes that a Biden administration would take measurable steps to get the pandemic under control, thus alleviating her stress as a work-from-home parent who is also responsible for her children’s schooling. “Biden’s commitment to supporting working mothers is so important,” she said. “I’m homeschooling my kids because I’m afraid to send them to school, and distance learning doesn’t work for us. I’ve had to cut back work hours to do this, and of course, I’m worried about losing gigs because the economy is a ticking time bomb.”
With the U.S. economy facing one of its worst years in modern history, a solid economic plan is inarguably a cornerstone of the upcoming election.
“I like Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ plan and rethinking how we support business and economic recovery and create jobs in America,” said Tracy McCullough, a mother and compliance director living in the suburbs of Chicago. She believes Trump’s promises of returning jobs to America led to him being elected in 2016, but his poor tactics actually resulted in many people losing work.
“He tried to revive dying industries that destroy our environment, while engaging in tariff wars as he put our farmers on welfare, repealing countless regulations that keep us safe, lining the pockets of a few while the wealth disparity grew,” she said. “Too many people were left out of or harmed by his actions.”
Conversely, Biden’s plan focuses on the future and industries that have the potential to bring economic prosperity, McCullough said. “[Biden offers] a focus on the industries of now and the future, creating new high-quality jobs for and strengthening the businesses of ALL Americans, and doing so in an environmentally responsible way.”
Leaving the planet in better shape for our children is of the utmost importance to many moms across the country. Last month, Biden announced an ambitious $2 trillion plan to combat climate change and environmental racism. His dedication to addressing the climate crisis has been a hallmark of his campaign from the beginning when, during the primaries, he announced his goal of making the country carbon-neutral by 2050.
“I appreciate how he is focused on getting us to 100% clean energy sources in the future and taking important and fast action to help reverse climate change,” said Gina, a graduate student, school counselor, and mother of two in northeast Ohio. She asked COURIER to withhold her last name to protect her family’s privacy.
Heather M. agrees, noting that ignoring the rapidly worsening environmental crisis isn’t the kind of response the leader of the United States should put forth.
Gina, who has two young sons and feels very strongly about the need for gun reform in the US, said she appreciated Biden’s history of standing up to the National Rifle Association. “Gun violence in schools is a serious concern of mine as my children continue to grow, and I want them to be able to go to school without fear of a mass shooting.”
Biden’s record in favor of gun violence prevention spans more than three decades. It’s also laid the groundwork for a robust gun control plan that includes universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and allocating more resources toward the enforcement of existing gun laws.
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During the presidential primary debates last summer, Biden pushed for the development of “smart guns,” which would allow a biometric system to prohibit guns from being fired by people whose fingerprints aren’t registered for that specific weapon.
Science and the Pandemic
According to Biden’s pandemic plan, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to meet public health needs and deal with the mounting economic consequences for families, small businesses, first responders, and all essential workers. As of Friday, more than 186,000 people in the United States had died due to the coronavirus.
McCullough believes that a Biden presidency will bring an actionable response to the pandemic crisis at hand.
“For our family, a Biden presidency will lessen our stress because we will have a competent administration leading the response to COVID,” she explained. “And we’ll actually have an organized, science-based response.”
Biden also plans to ensure COVID testing is widely available and affordable and seeks to eliminate all cost barriers associated with the care and treatment of the disease. He also fully supports the development of a vaccine.
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“He plans to actually respond to the pandemic and listen to scientists, rather than just ignoring it and wishing it away like the current administration,” Heather M. said. “That’s what gives me the most hope.”
McCullough, who extensively studied the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in its entirety during her early legal career, hopes Biden will strengthen the ACA if elected. She said the law was initially written to increase accessibility, transparency, quality, and safety, and has been unable to operate to its fullest potential due to consistent congressional roadblocks since its passage in 2010.
“It’s a strong piece of legislation with so many measures in it that have completely transformed the practice of health care,” she explained. “Most people do not realize how far it reaches and the impact that it has had on things like quality, health information management, and non-discrimination.”
Biden’s health care platform is designed to focus on the initial goals and measures of the ACA. He believes the foundation of the legislation is solid, and can pave the way for further healthcare reform. “The quickest, fastest way to do it is build on Obamacare,” Biden said at the first Democratic debate. “To build on what we did.”
Racial and Gender Equality
From separating families at the border to militarizing local police forces against civil rights protesters to denying immigrants asylum, Trump’s presidency has been fraught with unabashed racism.
“I think having Biden in office will make great strides towards support and equality of many marginalized groups and that is the number one important issue for me,” Torres said. “Human rights shouldn’t be a political debate.”
For Gina, choosing Kamala Harris as his candidate for vice president was a step in the right direction. She hopes her sons will grow up in a world where women are viewed positively in national leadership positions.
“In my life, I’ve dealt with gender bias and personally experienced men and women being threatened by a powerful female leader,” she said. “To see Kamala, who is fiercely intelligent, brave and outspoken, embraced in top leadership is very encouraging.”
The Promise of Leadership
Having comprehensive, actionable plans, passion, and a herculean work ethic for the road ahead are all vital reasons why these moms and others say they will cast their vote for Biden in November. At this stage in the game, it doesn’t matter if Biden was their first choice in the primaries.
“Biden isn’t a perfect candidate. He is not as progressive as I’d like him to be, and I know that many of the problems we’re facing now will still exist under a President Biden,” Austrew pointed out. “For me, the difference is that under his leadership, we will have the chance to keep doing the work to fix these problems. If Trump is re-elected, I don’t believe we’ll have that chance.”
McCullough doesn’t think any career politician is above criticism, because working in government for a long period of time means candidates like Biden are going to get it wrong at some point along the way. But for her, the choice on who to vote for is obvious.
“He is a breath of fresh air compared to [the current] administration because he is a decent, caring person who understands the plight of the average American,” she said. “He doesn’t just talk; he listens—which is incredibly important.”