Interview with Chudy Ilozue, Rapid Response Advisor at Settle for Biden

After one of the most dramatic and competitive primaries in recent history, former Vice President Joe Biden emerged as the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party. In just a few short weeks, Biden will be facing incumbent Donald Trump in what may be one of the most heated elections in American history.

Much of the primary revolves around a critical divide in the Democratic Party: a split between centrists and progressives. On one side was Joe Biden; on the other was Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Though Biden ultimately won, many on the left were left wondering whether voting for Biden made sense for advancing progressive goals.

Born of this question was Settle for Biden, a group led by young people who supported Sanders and Warren but are now, as the name indicates, settling for Biden.

We interviewed Settle for Biden’s rapid response advisor, Chudy Ilozue, about SFB’s mission and the upcoming election. Here’s what he had to say.

Introduce yourself!

I’m Chudy Ilozue. I’m a college freshman at Harvard, but I’m from Buffalo, NY. I’m with the Settle for Biden team.

What does the word “progress” mean to you?

I think progress means making a future that’s more equitable in which everybody has the opportunity that they deserve and in which people who have need can get that need met — a more fair and equitable society for everyone. That’s what progress is to me.

What is Settle for Biden?

Settle for Biden was started by Sam Weinberg. The goal was to create a group that advocated to people who supported Warren, Sanders, or other more progressive candidates than Biden and get them to vote for Biden because of the threat that Trump poses instead of the Green Party because now is not a good time for protest voting considering the nature of this election.

What was it like to go from a small student-led page to having 270K followers?

It’s a big jump, but at the same time a lot of the internals are still the same. It’s still student-led and it’s still independent from any campaign or the Democratic Party or anything like that. We put more care into our content and check it over more, but at the same time our core message is still the same.

What would you say to someone who supported Bernie or Warren and is hesitant to support Biden because they feel he isn’t progressive enough?

I’d say to look at the alternative. The Green Party and the Libertarian Party are not viable. You have to look at your two options: Biden or Trump. So far, Trump is dismantling the progress we’ve made over the past couple of years, suing to get rid of Obamacare, threatening Roe v Wade and Obergfell v Hodges, and threatening so many things that we hold dear. The progress that we’ve made over the years. A vote for Trump would be a vote to go backward; a vote for Biden would be at least a small step forward with college debt, a public option on healthcare, justice reform, and all of that. They’re all steps forward, even if they’re not as big steps as we would like, and we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the better. 

What is the importance of this election?

Considering what they’re doing now, this could be an election to decide all elections. It could be the difference between having elections that are free and fair in the United States in the future and not having them. With voter suppression and some Republicans openly admitting they don’t want as many people to vote, with what they’re doing in Texas with only one ballot dropbox in these giant counties — that’s threatening democracy itself. As long as Republicans have power over elections, there’s a very big threat to any kind of change because it doesn’t matter how much voter turnout there’s going to be in the future if the vote is going to be suppressed. To get progressive values, we need to have free and fair elections, which are under threat by Trump.

Why do you think youth voter turnout is comparatively low?

There are a couple of things. One of them is registration; if someone is at a college or university and their address is different, that can make registration and mail-in voting more complicated. They also have to register for the first time, and older people are more likely to have registered at some point. It’s small little things that cumulatively build up along with a lack of enthusiasm as a lot of the time younger people don’t believe that the system can get them what they want. It’s a combination of a lack of enthusiasm and barriers that sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally manage to keep younger people from voting. 

What do you personally think will happen?

Based on the polls, if it’s a free and fair election, Biden will win. If secretaries of states manage to defend their processes without Trump trying to make a case against mail-in voting — while he himself is mailing in his own ballot — then Biden will win and Trump will have no choice but to leave the White House. He will use every tool at his disposal and continue to sue to make it harder to vote, and this will make it harder to have a free and fair election — but I think that this is something that can be overcome. 

What would you like to see in a Biden presidency?

I would like to see him make actual progress. If he can get a public option, student loan forgiveness, free college at state schools making under a certain amount, and raises taxes on the wealthy to pay for these plans, these will be real steps for progress. I hope that some of these common-sense reforms can go forward.

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