Sen. Dick Durbin discusses COVID-19 and the election with young Democrats

By Ryan Scott and Oreoluwa Ojewuyi

Members of the Madison County Young Democrats spoke with Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin about the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 election via Zoom on Aug. 31.

Durbin gave an update on the current situation in the White House and said President Donald Trump has had a negative impact on the United States over the course of the past four years.

“This man who is serving as president in the U.S. has shown so little respect for this office and the people that voted for him,” Durbin said. 


Durbin said the United States is considered a developed and wealthy country by international standards and its poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic is embarrassing. He said the President’s press briefings were unprofessional and said he wished the doctors with him would have called him out. 

“Four percent of the world’s population lives in the United States, 20% of the deaths from COVID-19 came from the United States,” Durbin said. 

Durbin said Trump failed the American people during a time of need, as Trump repeatedly referred to the pandemic as a hoax and encouraged the public to seek dangerous remedies for the virus. 

Durbin said “183,000 Americans have died because this president couldn’t lead this country and fought the experts the whole way,” and 75% of the U.S. population says the country is going in the wrong direction.”

Durbin predicted Trump will lose the state of Illinois to Democratic candidate Joe Biden during the election and he implored the Madison County Young Democrats to help win Illinois, saying it is harder to have a democratic majority in southern Illinois. 

“It takes reaching out and never taking anything for granted. Do not wait beyond Oct. 7 to request mail in ballots,” Durbin said 

Durbin said mailing in ballots earlier than the deadline, which is Oct. 27, ensures that the ballots are counted. 


“Can we count on the U.S. postal service for mail in voting?” community member Joe Silkwood said. 

Durbin said with 90% approval from the American people for the USPS, Trump’s plan to defund the USPS was a bigger beast than he could handle.

According to Durbin, two million people are expected to mail in ballots this year.

“We have got to watch the election authorities closely. Both parties ought to hold them to the strictest level of professionalism when it comes to these ballots,” Durbin said. 

Durbin then opened the floor to questions from members of the community and Madison County Young Democrats. 

The first question, from community member Kevin Mckee, asked Durbin to explain the “Americas Clean Future Fund Act.” 

Durbin said he wants to “make sure we have investments in clean energy, the US is not a part of the Paris Climate Agreement because of our president.” He said the U.S. has wasted three and a half years by not fighting climate change. 

Durbin discounted the economy under Trump prior to the COVID-19 outbreak saying he inherited it from Obama, and pushing forward clean energy and reversing the damage done over the past three years are investments that must be made.  

As far as his priorities following the 2020 election, Durbin said he would start with rebuilding alliances that were destroyed by the Trump administration.

“We need the NATO alliance. There are countries who depend on that alliance because they could not defend themselves without that alliance behind them,” Durbin said. 

Justin Gibson, member of Madison County Young Democrats, asked Durbin “How will you respond to racial justice and police brutality issues?”

Durbin said he hopes to remedy some of the issues related to unnecessary force and police brutality with the Justice in Policing Act. He opposes defunding the police and thinks law enforcement should be held more accountable than they currently are. 

“We need law enforcement but they should be held to standards of conduct,” Durbin said. 

Durbin thanked the Madison County Young Democrats and members of the Illinois Assembly for facilitating the conversation. 

Reporter Oreoluwa Ojewuyi can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @odojewuyi

Reporter Ryan Scott can be reached at @[email protected] or on twitter @RyanscottDE.

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