My body was fully prepared for another four years of Trump. My initial anger with Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election dwindled into numbness so I could cope with my futile frustration. I, like many other Americans, became desensitized to Trump: his caustic, curt responses… his bully-like rhetoric… his seeming inability to express empathy towards anything or anyone against him. When Trump was first elected, protesters across the U.S. held signs saying, “If Hillary had won the election, we could all be at brunch right now.” We thought our starry-eyed optimism from the Obama administration would continue by placing another democrat into the Oval Office. We were naive to think we could go to brunch after electing Hillary into office. We would be psychotic to let down our political guard now that Biden’s been elected.
The United States 2020 Presidential eEection is historic for many reasons. Soon-to-be 78-years-old Joe Biden is set to become the oldest president in U.S history. Kamala Harris, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, will become not only the first female vice president, but also the first vice president of color. And the Biden-Harris ticket received over 75 million votes, more than any other American presidential campaign. In my midwestern liberal bubble, people flocked the streets of Chicago— cheering, banging pots, and waving Pride and BLM flags. I could feel the four years of knots beneath my collarbone release after watching videos of little brown girls beaming as Kamala strutted out to Mary J. Blige and delivered a captivating victory speech. Just hearing Joe use complete sentences was a breath of fresh air. His words of healing and unity reached millions of eager ears across the world.
Recently, there’s been an overwhelming feeling that we did it. Granted, white people of all genders, ages, and education levels still voted for Trump in droves. Nevertheless, “we” did it— we got Trump out of office. I can now exhale knowing Joe and Kamala will be in the White House next January. But the euphoria from the election results has waned. While this is a historic election founded on hope, the amount of hopelessness across our nation has never been more fervent.
Yes, Biden won the popular vote. He even secured a victory in our flawed Electoral College System. But the election wasn’t a landslide. Trump received over 70 million votes. seventy.million. That’s 70 million Americans for white supremacy, for the Prison Industrial Complex and police militarization, for the denial of science and global warming, for xenophobia, for homophobia, for transphobia, for islamophobia, for nationalism, and for regressive reproductive rights. This is shameful and terrible. It’s even more terrifying that our political system allows the candidacy of such a blasphemous platform. At the time this article was posted, Donald Trump refuses to concede— further positioning our country as the temper tantrum toddler of the world. Senate control and the ability to pass progressive legislature hinge on two runoffs in Georgia. Mitch McConnell and other heinous politicians were reelected to office, yet question the legitimacy of Biden’s election. Hope won this election, but there is still a lot of fear and hate against this change.
Democrats… Republicans… our political parties don’t stand for justice or values. They stand for competition and victory within an imperialist system. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) feigns the facade of social progressivism while touting capitalism and moderate economic platforms. The American “Left Wing” is considered Centrist by most European countries. The only reason the DNC nominees (like Hillary and Joe) highlight socially progressive key points is to cater to the highly, engaged progressive minority. In the end, the DNC still serves the economically moderate majority of the Democratic Party.
It’s astounding to me how America, the Land of Individualism, practices mob mentality partisanship. Two major political parties have dominated American politics since shortly after the founding of our republic. Our two party system idolizes politicians and promises over actual policy implementation. Democrats and Republicans shame party members for critiquing their politicians.
You’re a bad Democrat if you critique Obama’s immigration policies.
You’re a bad Republican if you chastise Trump’s racist agenda.
In reality, we’re not bad party members— we’re members of fundamentally corrupt parties. For the past two presidential elections, Democratic progressive voters (who are typically young and/or people of color) have settled for Blue Centrism as the lesser of two evils. Liberals and Democrats alike held the Trump administration when Republicans wouldn’t or couldn’t for the sanctity of their party. But we’ve settled. We’ve accepted years of “it’s not that bad” so we’re afraid to even ask for something good.
At least Joe’s not a racist. At least Kamala is a woman. At least she’s a woman of color.
At least Joe’s not an alleged sexual harasser. At least he’s only an inappropriate toucher. At least Joe doesn’t spew the kind of hatred that make half of the country question brown people have the right to call America home. At least Kamala wants to defund the police. At least she’s not pro-police militarization.
“At least” isn’t good enough. “Not bad” isn’t good enough. Not for the highest office in the land. Joe and Kamala can’t change their past, but they have the unique opportunity to redefine their political legacy in their upcoming administration.
We can exhale. We need to. We need to exhale after surviving a fascist overlord. But after the victory gitters subside, work needs to be done. Trump’s presidency called to action people who would’ve never participated in politics. This is not a one time fix. This is a revolution. It was an invocation.
I fear we’ll misconstrue promises as an excuse to disengage. I fear phone banking will become a one time thing. I fear people won’t check in with their loved ones on their voting plans. I fear we won’t follow Biden’s executive decisions like we followed Trump’s tweets. I fear Twitter will be silent whenever Biden slips up. I fear Biden’s predatory history will be brushed under the rug. I fear the Black community won’t discuss Harris’s long history of disproportionately incarcerated Black men. I fear we’ll slowly slip back into being apolitical.
I want to pick and prod at of the insecurities, ugly parts, weakness of our politicians to make our democracy stronger. We, the American people, have a duty to not only ask for what we want, but ask for good, and better. The fact is: politicians are meant to serve us, not the other way around. If we accept voting as the peak of our political power, we will never see change. We can’t brunch because no politician can fix our democracy. Only we can.