The 2020 Election

It’s hard to describe how I feel right now. I’ve been obsessively watching CNN since 7 pm on Tuesday, telling myself not to get my hopes up like I did in 2016 and reminding myself that things won’t magically change once the results are announced anyway. But watching the numbers change by fractions of percentages until my state turned blue, seeing just how many people cared enough to cast their ballot in the middle of a pandemic when all the cards have been stacked against them, creating the largest voter turnout in the history of America, it’s hard not to feel hopeful.

I wasn’t old enough to vote in 2016. I heard people tell me that it doesn’t really matter who the president is anyway so I used my platform to encourage unity across party lines. But it matters when your Muslim classmates don’t show up to school the day after the election because the president says he doesn’t want them here. It matters when closeted racists in your town feel emboldened to act violently upon their bigotry because the president has enabled their behavior. It matters when people in your queer community feel the need to hide their identities from the public because the president has made discrimination cool again. I watched decades of progress be reversed, endangering myself and the people I care about, as a direct result of the person who held the presidency.

And so I’m weary of ambitions to unite the country now. I’m skeptical of those who want to sympathize with and validate the very people who worked so hard to endanger us before. It’s frustrating to hear that the people who incited so much hate will be shown just as much love as you will. But it’s also remarkably refreshing to have a president-elect with any empathy at all. I was raised during a presidency that told me I was valued, I was capable, and I was part of a country that was willing to change. I think it’s more important than we had realized that we have leaders who remind us of these things.

I am hopeful that this presidency will be willing to listen to what we have to say, instead of invoking fear and violence in those who speak up. I am hopeful that this presidency will allow for conversations of healing to begin to take place, conversations that are long overdue. But that does not mean that our work here is done. In order to rebuild a country that is better than before, we must hold our leaders accountable. We must demand the things that we need: stimulus checks, vaccines, reimagined public protection, human rights, health care, environmental justice. We can not get comfortable; we have to fight for the things we so passionately believe in, and that we have been denied for too long.

Our national psyche has a lot of healing to do. 54% of white women still voted for Trump. Over 71 million people still voted for Trump. That’s 71 million people who openly condone white supremacy, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, misogyny, fascism, and abuse. That is unacceptable. We must fight against these beliefs at every opportunity. We may have won the White House, but the real progress is made amongst individuals every day.

While I can not condone everything that Joe Biden nor Kamala Harris has done in the past, I recognize what a significant win this is. To see a woman, let alone a woman of color, hold such a prominent position of power has reminded me that we do still live in a country that is willing to change. There is so much work that still needs to be done, and yet, in spite of it all, I’m hopeful.

X Sophia

Posted November 8th, 2020