Although Donald Trump has not yet conceded the race, the announcement has effectively brought an end to the 2020 U.S. Presidential election, a race that will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the most tumultuous in the nation’s history.
Biden won the White House because of who he is and who he isn’t. He campaigned consistently for racial equality and common decency to save “the soul of the nation.” According to political experts, the election became a referendum on Trump, an up and down vote on his four years, rather than a choice between him and Biden. About two-thirds of voters said their opinion of Trump, either for or against, drove their choice, according to voting polls.
One of the most pivotal figures who supported Biden’s election bid, Rep. James Clyburn, D-South Carolina, said the candidate still had to offer voters something to believe in.
Clyburn, the third-ranking member of the House and the most powerful Black lawmaker in Congress, gave his endorsement and helped Biden consolidate support. Ultimately, three out of 5 black voters supported Biden.
The response to the health crisis became one of the defining contrasts between the two presidential campaigns. Biden remained mostly secluded at his Delaware home and appeared at speeches or rallies where participants wore masks and social distanced. Trump resumed and escalated rallies with large crowds packed closely together, few wearing masks. After Trump and several of his family and cabinet members tested positive, these rallies began to be known as “super spreaders.”
About two-thirds of likely voters approved of Biden’s more cautious approach, according to a USA TODAY poll. But Trump’s super-spreader rallies continued. The man even mocked the few attendees who did mask.
Honestly, the last ten days before the election felt a month long. There were times I felt we were experiencing what it was like to live in a communist country. The propaganda claims, espoused by our country’s leader as unquestionable truth, with no evidence or justification. The threats to any Republican Party member who even hinted disagreement. (Those threats are continuing still, by the way.) I cringed and hunkered down, hiding from the bombardment of vile tweets, political ads and other media. Just get through the election. Just get though the election. Just get through it…
But now, finally, we can collectively breathe a sigh of relief.
Biden needs to unite a country fractured by the pandemic, economic upheaval, racial tensions and climate challenges. He must rebuild broken relationships and alliances around the glove. He also may need to convince a portion of the country that he actually has won.
They floated non-truths about Sharpie pens ruining ballots, and a whole other carnival of conspiracies, only some of which even related to the election at hand.
Saturday’s projections provided some finality and a break to the tensions. Like steel bands around my chest popping loose. I could breathe. Easily and fully.
Finally, we know he’ll be out of power, and we can begin to undo the damage.
If the elections of 2020 have demonstrated anything, it is that effective representation and governance requires that every single citizen participate in the process. It requires that we pay attention to policies being put forth, and voice our support or opposition in ways that are legal, concise and thoughtful.
Democracy is a lot like gardening; it requires constant and faithful tending. The neglect and abuse of our system over the past few years is going to require some serious assessment, and then a solid plan on how to move forward.
We can certainly celebrate electing a biracial woman, Kamala Harris, to the nation’s second-highest office for the first time in U.S. History. This is a victory for the principles of inclusiveness and equality.
Today we celebrate. Tomorrow? That is up to each of us, and how we choose to participate in the process. Whether or not we hold onto this progress, and continue to build on it.
Despite the temptation to think we have entered a brave new post-Trump world, we are more likely to shuffle back to the position we were in during Barack Obama’s second term as president. A divided Congress is likely to prevent any major legislation from being passed. As with Obama, Mitch McConnell will have every incentive to block Biden’s legislative agenda, thinking that inaction and gridlock will bring rewards to the COP in 2022.
I hope I will have to eat my words on this—the Georgia runoffs for Senate could change everything. But barring those wins, Joe Biden is going to enter the presidency in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression; a pandemic that has claimed nearly 240 thousand American lives; an ongoing national reckoning on racism and sexism; and four years of catastrophic negligence on climate change. And that’s not even factoring in the 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, a problem Obama didn’t have.
But it’s not all bad: Biden can do a lot to handle the COVID-19 pandemic more effectively, even without legislative support, While another stimulus bill will be necessary to alleviate the coronavirus’s effect on our economy, much of the work of containing and eventually stopping the virus can be accomplished just through embracing international cooperation again, as opposed to the Trump administration’s reckless abandonment of agencies like the World Health Organization.
And when one looks at how often the Trump administration abandoned global collaboration on pressing issues—most notably, again, climate change—there’s comfort in the prospect of simply repairing those relationships. As the French Prime Minister said this week when Biden’s victory was announced, “Welcome back.”
There were many important stories within the story of this election: the powerful rise of the Black women and Black Lives Matter as a political force, the demonstrated strength of our growing Latino community. Most of all, the amazement that a nation, inundated by a resurging pandemic, still voted in historic numbers.
These results did not convincingly repudiate some troubling divisions in our country. We are still, as a nation, precariously flirting with white supremacy, conspiracy theories, and “alternative facts.” I am still concerned about how culture, and specifically faith, may be weaponized. Many communities, including my pagan organization, remain marginal and easily targeted. There are hopeful signs, yes, but we must remain watchful.
To my personal surprise, the biggest think I feel hopeful about is President-elect Biden himself. He stepped up to this challenge. He’s real. Honest. Not manipulative or narcissistic. He cares—really cares—about us. About ME.
So I’m going to breathe another sigh of relief. Put the dark impulses of the past years aside, and look toward our better angels. I know they’re out there, we just have to coax them out of hiding.
Congratulations Senator Mark Kelly! We turned Arizona blue for you.
Welcome President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. We look forward to working with you.