by Brian Hough
As we inch closer to the general election in November, it’s becoming even more apparent why national security should be top of mind for all voters in 2020. When we think about democracy, our constitution, our unalienable rights, and the virtues that make us uniquely American, we need to consider the safety, security, and preservation of these values. What goes into allowing us to have freedoms, such as freedom of speech or freedom of the press? Of course this isn’t a simple answer, but one element is clear: it is our national security that grants us many of these freedoms we cherish as Americans. In this article, I hope to paint a picture of what is at stake on the national security front for the upcoming election and share important criteria for Americans to consider leading up to Election Day.
On a topic as important as national security, what should we be thinking about and what should we be paying attention to as voters? For starters, it is important to note the 70 former National Security Officials from Republican administrations—spanning former President Ronald Reagan to current President Donald Trump—who banded together in a statement on August 21, supporting Joe Biden. Their argument centered around 10 key points about why a Biden presidency would be vital for our nation’s national security program. The list was quite exhaustive, but I’ve included some highlights below, which are worth considering.
The first point centered around the need to repair our nation’s global reputation, morale, and diplomatic influence. We cannot afford to call strategic intergovernmental military alliances like NATO “obsolete,” especially given its historic significance in uniting countries across the nation for peace, unity, and collaboration following WW2. With the increase in economic globalization, increased international trade, and the expansion of global business, we cannot sit back and distance ourselves from the conversations that will set the economic table for decades to come. We must be a part of these arrangements and deals, which means we cannot seclude and isolate our nation.
The second point the former security leaders listed was the mishandeling of the COVID-19 national crisis and pandemic. The leaders expressed grave concern about a president spreading misinformation, such as calling COVID a “hoax” while blaming governors and local officials without providing the states with clear federal guidelines. The health of the American people should always be a top priority, and we cannot afford to waver in blame, scapegoating, or fear mongering when our nation is struggling with a nationwide crisis. Such tough times call for a single leader to rally behind who will guide the country through these troubled waters.
Perhaps their most crucial call for a Biden presidency centered around the current disparagement of our armed forces, intelligence agencies, and officials — something truly shocking for a central figure in power. The past four years have seen a repeated series of attacks against our US intelligence agencies, from incorrectly labeling our diplomats the “deep state,” to mocking American prisoners of war. While none of these events are normal, they have become commonplace, regular, and expected. We cannot afford to have infighting, nor a constant whittling away at the trust of our own government departments. Can we afford four more years of attacking our own nation’s intelligence operations?
Rhetoric is another area that isn’t specific to national security, but it does influence and reflect all areas of government and law in America. The past four years has been fueled by “political, racial, and ethnic divisions, weakening our nation and delighting our adversaries” as the former national security advisors proclaim. The angry rhetoric of “American carnage,” “angry mobs,” and “anarchists” is the complete opposite of the America President Barack Obama painted for our nation. The reversal to pessimism and incitement has certainly taken a toll on American morale.
In November, voters will have a chance to make an important decision about what kind of America they want for the next four years. This will set the precedent for many years to come. Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s foreign policy platform focuses on “restoring dignified leadership at home and respected leadership on the world stage.” To start, he will focus on reinforcing our democracy, such as restoring the Voting Rights Act, instituting strict conflict-of-interest and anti-corruption policies for the Biden administration, and bringing back daily press briefings at the White House, U.S. Department of State, and U.S. Department of Defense. Vice President Joe Biden knows how important transparency and communication are to the nation. Restoring a high level of trust to the people will be vital for a brighter 2020 and beyond. Biden also intends to restore moral leadership, with a focus on America’s commitment to strengthening human rights and democracy around the world.
One platform pillar that stands out is Biden’s pledge to host a global Summit for Democracy. This event would bring the world’s democracies together to develop a shared agenda to address the concerns they have in common. Key issues would include: fighting corruption, upholding democratic pillars like election security, and advancing human rights locally and around the world.
Biden’s platform is robust, comprehensive, and detailed. He paints a much more hopeful and optimistic view of America than the one we have been served over the past four years. At a time of increased divisiveness, we must all come together, especially now when we are facing the COVID-19 pandemic head on. We need a dedicated leader to guide us through these troubled waters and help us emerge stronger on the other side, not weaker. Whether you are voting by mail or in person, do not let your chance to vote slip away this November — your vote is needed now, more than ever before.
Brian Hough is a communications and PR strategist with a background in communications, governmental policy, and local and state political campaigns. A member of the Marblehead Democratic Town Committee, he has a passion for advocacy, public policy, local government, and diversity.