Due to the unprecedented nature of the 2020 election, USA Today is breaking from its decade’s longstanding tradition and endorsing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
In an op-ed published on Tuesday, the paper’s editorial board noted that in 2016, it urged voters not to vote for then-candidate Donald Trump. The paper did not endorse the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
The op-ed said that Americans may have voted for Trump in 2016 because they believed he would “bring back blue-collar jobs” or “liked his populist, the anti-elitist message” or just because they could not “stomach” voting for a Democratic candidate.
It continued, “Now, two weeks until Election Day, we suggest you consider a variation of the question Republican Ronald Reagan asked voters when he ran for president in 1980: Is America better off now than it was four years ago?”
The op-ed noted the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the “racial reckoning,” and “natural disasters fueled by a changing climate,” and argued, “The nation is dangerously off course.”
While editorial board’s members said they hoped Trump would become “more disciplined” in office, they ripped into his handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
“When confronted with an emergency — COVID-19, the biggest public health threat in more than a century — Trump didn’t land the plane safely on the Hudson River. His shambolic response to the coronavirus pandemic has inflated a national death toll that is equivalent to the crashes of more than 1,000 Boeing-737 jetliners.”
“There is little doubt that Biden would have handled the crisis more capably,” the op-ed argued. “He surely would not have become a superspreader of coronavirus misinformation.”
The op-ed recalled that in January, Biden published a plan to combat the coronavirus in USA Today, and the former vice president’s strict observance of mask wearing and adherence to social distancing guidelines.
The editorial board said it is not breaking with tradition to endorse Biden because of policy differences with Trump. The writers said, “If this were a choice between two capable major party nominees who happened to have opposing ideas, we wouldn’t choose sides.”
However, “This year, character, competence, and credibility are on the ballot. Given Trump’s refusal to guarantee a peaceful transfer of power if he loses, so, too, is the future of America’s democracy.”
“For nearly four decades, the Editorial Board has stood for certain core values: truth, accountability, civility in public discourse, opposition to racism, common-ground solutions to the nation’s problems, and steadfast support for First Amendment rights. These aren’t partisan issues, or at least they shouldn’t be.”
While the board said Trump has “trampled each of these principles,” it argued that Biden would “do a far better job of respecting these values.”
The board also said Biden’s record in office is checkered, from his foreign policy stances to his handling of Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991. Additionally, the board noted Biden is “capable of cringe-worthy gaffes, and his sentences can wander off into uncharted territory.”
“Nevertheless, Biden is an experienced hand with working-class roots who understands the American dream,” the op-ed continued.
Finally, the editorial board wrote, “With his plans, his personnel picks, his experience, and his humanity, Joe Biden can help lead the United States out of this morass and into the future. Your vote can help make that happen.”
It added that it hopes never to make another presidential endorsement and assured readers that the endorsement would not influence its news reporting.