American Voter: Kathy Byrnes | US & Canada
US President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden are fighting for the presidency in the deeply divided United States.
Trump has focused on “law and order,” Biden has tried to strike a conciliatory note. The Black Lives Matter movement and whether Trump will free his taxes are among the many questions Americans will consider when choosing their president.
As the hotly contested elections draw near, Al Jazeera has spoken to US voters and asked nine questions to help understand who they are supporting and why.
American voter: Kathy Byrnes [Al Jazeera]Age: 58 years
Profession: City builder
Lives in: Polk County, Iowa
Elected in 2016: Hillary Clinton
W.bad vote in 2020: Joe Biden
T.op election problem: climate change
Are you going to vote Why or why not?
“Yes, voting is our most sacred duty in a democracy. I voted for Jimmy Carter for the first time on November 4, 1980. He lost to Ronald Reagan, but I’ve voted every year since then. “
What is your main problem?
“Well, there is much to be feared. For me, the climate is the most important issue that we have to face. It’s a crisis. And if we don’t get it right, there isn’t much else we can do right. So I mentioned that I voted for Jimmy Carter and grew up during the energy crisis in the late 1970s. I learned from my Republican father and my Democratic mother how to save energy and love the outdoors. It was really a good education to understand that we have this earth, one earth. It is our home and we have to protect it.
“Now, as an older adult, I see the earth on fire, flooded, and drought-ridden, more than any other time humans have seen for hundreds of years. And it’s not cyclical, it’s progressive. Humans do this to the earth. I have three children and three grandchildren. Your future is everything to me, and not just because it’s my children and my grandchildren – they’re other people. And it’s not just about saving the United States, it’s for the world. It’s not a tree-keeper thing at all. If we implement measures to combat the climate crisis, we will also create new and better jobs. We will create new and better ways to get from one place to another. We will have a chance for better health care. Overall, we will have some achievements in terms of peace and justice. And that is the main problem.
“I also had a very personal problem that led me to care much more about the earth. I lived on an acre of land under threat from the Dakota Access Pipeline. First, I researched what it is and what pipelines are all about because I really didn’t know much about our energy infrastructure. And the more I learned, the worse it sounded. And I withstood that. I made an arrest for this to protect some of the Iowa waterways. I have met many good people, worked with many great allies and landowners like me, indigenous communities and people of all ages, races and ethnicities. We didn’t beat that pipeline, but we delayed it, which was great. And now we’re working to stop them from doubling the flow of oil in this pipeline. “
Who will you vote for?
“I am voting for Joe Biden.”
Is there a main reason you picked your candidate?
“I didn’t really choose him. The party voted for me. I will enthusiastically choose Biden in the situation we are in right now. Last year, we and hundreds of other people across Iowa with the Ed Fallon-led group Bold Iowa screened candidates and encouraged climate-related candidates. Throughout the pre-caucus season, I’ve probably attended over 100 campaign events and rallies, spoken to each candidate personally, and toured some of them at our home and town farm to show them what a personal investment we were making to tackle the climate crisis.
“Originally, Tom Steyer was the number one candidate in the climate field and also had a solid background in running programs to advance some of the other important issues I mentioned like jobs, health, transportation, etc. So I originally did caucus for him. In Iowa, caucuses are a different type of animal than anywhere else. So I was in Tom Steyer’s camp, but his camp was not viable. So I moved to Elizabeth Warren’s camp. She did not start with a firm understanding of the urgency of the climate when she started her campaign. But she got there and I felt like she had the political basics to get things done and really move this issue forward. I was hoping to vote for Warren, but I’m thrilled to vote for Biden. ”
Are you satisfied with the current state of the country?
“Well, I’m glad that more people are involved and more aware of the political process than ever before. I am not happy why this is happening. And that’s because they’re responding to the negativity and atrocities of the Trump administration. I have a sister, she is the smartest cookie you will ever meet and she is kind and loving and she has never been particularly vocal about politics. But now she was so involved. She got involved with her community’s Democratic Party last year. It came out of its shell. She spoke out publicly and did things that she hadn’t really done before.
“My central belief is really that people are good and love is powerful and that we should always be ready to be surprised by ourselves and others in very positive ways. And I was happy that a lot of it happened. It’s really hard to respond with love to all the hatred out there. I didn’t succeed, but I hope we can bring this country back. I am not satisfied with the state of the country at the moment, but I hope that we will become a country that we can be proud of again. “
What do you want to change?
“Well, here’s an example. This is only on a social level, and I think this is due to, or the lack of, the leadership we see in the Trump administration. This morning I checked my Facebook and a woman who was a very nice woman in the community I lived in before moving to Des Moines reposted some pictures from someone else’s Facebook. It was a young man with several young people standing around him, and the young man was standing on an American flag. The man’s ethnicity was unclear – I’m not sure if he was in the US or any other country, but it looked like it was purposely an image of someone looking like someone other people believe that he doesn’t belong here. I will read what was in the original message that people just share without thinking about it. It says, “Everyone who knows this child is putting it on the Internet. Make sure their parents and grandfathers and grandmothers see this.” They lifted a piece of crap. Let them know. ‘ And I would like to see change if people don’t immediately judge others as I see them now, more than ever. I would love to see adults act like adults again.
“I would like to see people get the context before they judge what was probably a good young person. And he doesn’t need this picture that is being circulated all over the internet and called crap. The way a presidential administration or a president can help make these things change is simply to put those in charge of the departments there. Betsy DeVos from the Department of Education makes no sense. I am a former public school teacher. I taught in high school for 14 years. She has no experience or interest in helping the public school system keep thinking and creative adults learning. It seems to be destroying the public school system.
“Scott Pruitt was the head of the EPA. He has since resigned, but someone with ties to the oil industry is not a good choice. Choosing a good leadership must definitely change. I just want our leaders to be an example for our children to follow. Even the adults in our church should follow. “
Do you think the election will change anything?
“This choice will change everything. That choice will determine our nation’s path as to whether we value freedom. And I know conservatives think this is their word, but they are the ones who want to take away freedoms. Freedom of choice, freedom of thought, freedom of voice. We have to make sure that the United States remains a democracy.
“We have to make sure that the United States becomes a point of light in the world again, rather than a point of darkness and frankly a joke. Everything could change depending on who becomes president. If Biden becomes president, we will have a chance to make our country friendly again. Well really, no matter how the elections go, I worry about how long it will be for our people to return to a point of friendliness. “
What is your biggest concern for the US?
“I worry that what people consider greatness in America has to do with being big and strong and rich. And I grew up learning that being great means you are nice. You are fair You are physically and emotionally healthy. You are creative. That’s the kind of greatness I want to restore to our country. I want to be proud of America again. I don’t think that’s unpatriotic. I think that’s the most patriotic thing I can say that we have beautiful people in this country. We have beautiful country. We have to protect each other and our country and protect our image around the globe. “
Is there anything we didn’t ask about the elections that you would like to say?
“It’s so important that people vote. Women and people of color in particular underestimate the power we have. And I wish people would just take the time to learn and grow and vote for best for most people, rather than just for themselves. “