As a junior at NC State, I’ve tried to spend most of my time on campus focusing on my chemistry and political science classes instead of following the latest news coming out of Washington, D.C. But each day, the rhetoric coming out of our nation’s capital has caught my attention, and though Washington may seem so far away, I know the tone and positions our leaders take affect our daily lives.
Like many of my fellow Generation Zers here at NC State, I was not old enough to vote in the 2016 presidential election. And like so many others, I have had to stand by and simply watch as decisions were made by those a few years older. That did not mean that I did not care about our country’s issues; I tried to make my voice heard, volunteered for various local campaigns and had meaningful conversations with my peers on the issues that mattered to us. But this presidential cycle, I can do even more: I can vote.
This is the most important election of our lifetime. So much is on the line, including health care, the cost of college, racial justice, the state of our public schools, pay equity in our economy and the need to support rural America. Since this is the first presidential election I get to vote in, I’ve taken the time to seriously examine the candidates, and I know of one person who will address these issues and make sure that all Americans realize their American dream. That person is former vice president Joe Biden.
When I first met Biden a few months ago, I was blown away by his humility, commitment and down-to-earth qualities. Biden knows that young Americans are the future of our country and that the 2020 election will significantly impact our lives and the lives of future generations. Across the country, students are coming together to stand with Biden and Kamala Harris in this election.
His agenda includes policies that matter to students and young people, like ensuring we have access to education and training beyond high school that provides a reliable pathway to the middle class. Specifically, his plan will provide two years of community college or other high-quality training programs without debt for any hardworking individual looking to learn and improve their skills. He will also make four-year public colleges and universities tuition-free for all students whose family incomes are below $125,000.
For countless students in college in North Carolina and across the country, college affordability is a topic discussed nonstop at the dinner table when you are trying to figure out where to go to college. We should not allow the cost of college to prohibit students from receiving a higher education, and that’s why Biden will make loan forgiveness work for public servants by creating a new, simple program that offers $10,000 of undergraduate or graduate student debt relief for every year of national or community service, up to five years.
On climate, Biden has outlined a bold plan to address climate change and make a historic investment in our clean energy future and environmental justice. As vice president, Biden was instrumental in passing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which allows young people to stay on their parents’ plan until 26. Biden’s health care plan would protect the ACA and build on it to expand health care, so everyone has the care they deserve.
We cannot take this election lightly, especially during a pandemic. North Carolinians will send a loud and clear message that we want new leadership with the record-setting nearly 4 million votes that have already been cast as of writing this. I am one of those people, and I am proud of it. I am proud to have followed through on those years of advocacy by voting for the people who stand up for them. I am proud to be a part of the electoral dialogue, a process that is not available in other countries.
I am proud to stand with former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris. They will continue to build on the Obama legacy and unite the country in a challenging time. Voters can visit IWillVote.com/NC to find out more information and make a plan to vote. It’s up to our generation to lead our country toward a new era of bold leadership.
Dmitri McKinney is a third-year studying chemistry and political science at NC State with the intention of attending medical school. McKinney is a Biden for President’s NC State campus fellow.