Both President Trump and the Biden/Harris campaign touted coalitions of voters supporting their campaigns. There were Climate Voters for Biden. Sportsmen for Trump. Latinos for both. With Congress set to certify the election results and the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the next president and vice president, respectively, we asked a few of those voters who represent these coalition what priorities they would like to see from a Biden Administration.
Dr. Marilyn Singleton
Dr. Marilyn Singleton comes from a long line of physicians. Her father was a flight surgeon at the Tuskegee Army-Air Corps base and her grandfather was a doctor who cared for the Black community in his Ohio town.
Singleton herself is a California anesthesiologist and on the advisory board of Medical Professionals for Trump. It’s a position she took because, she said, she appreciated President Donald Trump’s support of fewer federal regulations on doctors and healthcare.
But with President-Elect Joe Biden soon taking office, Singleton said she hopes that good ideas from the Trump era aren’t nixed by the new administration.
“I’d like to see that they don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – that the hatred for Trump doesn’t override what’s best for patients,” said Singleton, who has a medical degree from the University of California at San Francisco and a law degree from UC Berkeley Law School.
“When political parties become married to an idea, it takes on a life of its own and the patients are left in the dust.”
She’d also like to see doctors given more freedom to practice medicine as they see fit, without dealing with mountains of paperwork and bureaucracy, she said. She recalled a time when doctors spent several hours each week providing free or drastically reduced medical care to low-income families. Her father was sometimes paid in tamales when he was in private practice.
“Now with the various insurance and federal programs, it’s considered insurance fraud if you don’t charge everybody the same thing,” she said. “Many doctors, including myself, would rather just do something for free than go through the system and have to hire somebody to do (Medicaid) pre-authorizations and go through a whole other level of bureaucracy to take Medicaid patients.”
Lastly, she doesn’t want to see the federal government impose mask mandates or other wide-ranging efforts to curb COVID-19 in a way that would impinge on personal freedoms.
“What angers me about the government getting so involved is what it does to peel away from people their sense of personal responsibility,” she said. “If you’re sick, stay home. Once the government says they’re going to take over responsibility for it, I think it makes people not take care of themselves.”
The discord and polarization around the country has filtered down into the medical community, she said.
“What is most bothersome to me, and I’ve been around long enough to see it change, is the age of having a conversation about things seems to be over,” she said. “Even in medicine, it’s become so political and polarized that it’s inhibiting good policies and good patient care.” — Anna Claire Vollers
Dr. Lucien Lamar Sneed
An 84-year-old Cherokee man living in north Georgia, Dr. Sneed has been fighting for recognition most of his life. He has a PhD in history from Georgia State University, which has allowed him to better research and tell the tales of his storied ancestors, some whom were forced to travel the Trail of Tears and others who remained in hiding.
But collecting tribal history also allowed him to seek federal recognition, a status that would allow his tribe, the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee, to apply for valuable grants. But the status would also offer a sense of closure that has been outstanding for 180 years, when the Cherokee people were the last to be removed from lands east of the Mississippi in 1938. That federal recognition was denied by the Trump administration in 2018, coming after a 15-year wait.
But under President-elect Joe Biden, Dr. Sneed has renewed yet reserved hope.
“If a new door opens, we will be happy to try anything,” he said from his home in Cummings, Ga., also the de-facto headquarters of his tribe, which has no land or reservation to call home. “I remember Obama made similar promises and those failed us too. Federal recognition is difficult to get, and it often starts with assistance from the state, but Georgia doesn’t care about its tribes,” he said, acknowledging that his tribe was given state recognition in 2007.
He added: “It’s what can get us valuable funding for our people. Native Indians have some of the highest suicide and drug abuse rates in the country, but I think that maybe we are not the right color to get the help we need. We are a quiet and humble people, and maybe that has cost us throughout history. “We’re not asking for a reservation, just recognition.” — Christopher Harress
Fitz Webb (Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs)
Fitz Webb would like to see funding restored to Planned Parenthood.
“I feel like there was a lot of things I wasn’t really taught because we weren’t allowed to really discuss it. So I felt like I didn’t have the resources I needed growing up to explore my sexuality and my gender identity. When I lived in Florida, there was a Planned Parenthood there and there were resources and people you could talk to. It was so beneficial,” Webb said.
“Abortion wasn’t something that really was a discussion for me. It was more like how to take care of yourself and sexual health. I was very fortunate to get those resources straight out of college. That meant a lot to me and other people I know who saw Planned Parenthood as a means to birth control or other medications. Especially for people like me, trans people, you can go to them for medication, resources, or etcetera.
So the lack of funding based on the religious principles of abortion is frustrating when they do a lot more than that.” — Starr Dunigan