We did it. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, Arizona, (Georgia, but they're still counting), and all the other blue states did it. Joe Biden is now the President-elect and will soon be the 46th president of the United States of America. Kamala Harris is currently the Vice President-elect, breaking barriers as the first woman, the first Black woman, and the first woman of Indian heritage to be elected vice president! But most importantly, the people did it. I could not vote, and many of you, my readers, probably weren't able to either. But I know so many of us took the time during these last few months to educate ourselves about our country's politics. I read articles from the New York Times, CNN, and watched MSNBC more than ever before. And that matters. Because in four years, when we can vote, we will look back at this moment. We will remember the stress and anxiety it brought us, even though we weren't even voting! We will picture the parades and gatherings in the streets, because alas, four years of Hell were over.
Let's go back in time to last summer: July 30, 2019. My family and I relaxed on comfy turquoise couches in the living room of our Airbnb in Maine. After 7 hours of driving from New York, we had gotten into the state that evening and decided to treat ourselves to lobster rolls (chicken fingers for me), lemonade, and a stroll on the rocky beach. But of course, the night wouldn't be complete without watching Night One of the second Democratic presidential debate on CNN. Amidst playing Apples to Apples with my family, we peered at the television screen and watched: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Marianne Williamson, John Delaney, John Hickenlooper, Tim Ryan, *phew that was a lot* and Steve Bullock debate it out. Then we watched ten other presidential candidates do the same thing the next night. Suddenly my eyes were open as I listened to the topics they were debating and cared more for our nation's future than ever before. In 2016, I didn't fully understand everything going on. I was only 11. But when I watched the debate that night with my family, something inside of me clicked, and I realized there is a chance for change — someone up on that debate stage has the opportunity to make America into what it used to be. They have a chance to make America better than it used to be.
As 2020 started, primaries and caucuses began to weed out candidates. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders were the lone two soldiers. Sanders dropped out in April, and in August, Former Vice President (and now president :D ) Joe Biden was nominated as the Democratic candidate for US president.
We watched as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris spoke at the Democratic National Convention this summer. When Kamala came out at the end of night one, in a lovely burgundy pantsuit to accept her nomination as VP Pick, I shed a tear. Sitting next to my parents on our couch (at home), Kamala was a symbol that us Black girls could do it! She represents a new era of female politicians in a nation that is becoming increasingly intersectional on all levels.
Autumn came around, and we watched as some wacko debates unfold. When Trump and Biden did their first presidential debate with Chris Wallace as the moderator, it was like watching a boxing match! They both kept interrupting each other, and everyone could see Trump burbling up with fury inside, every time Biden spoke. It was hilarious but also embarrassing. When Kamala Harris and current Vice President Mike Pence did their VP debate, they set a better example than Biden and Trump. But Mike Pence dodged almost every single question. He could barely answer what his plans were to stop Covid, and he's in charge of the whole committee! And oh, when the fly landed on Pence's head, my entire family cracked up! Twitter came with the memes in less than a second, and Biden's marketing team tweeted a photo of Joe Biden with a fly swatter and a caption that read, "Pitch in $5 to help this campaign fly." The fly swatter itself said, "Truth over Flies," on the handle. Hilarious.
Needless to say that when Election Day finally came around last week Tuesday, my anxiety was through the roof. The day was here. No more waiting. This was it. All across my Instagram feed that day, I saw people reposting, "Make sure to VOTE!" and various voting information. Celebrities, superstars, uncles, aunts, — everyone was tuned into this moment. It felt as if the whole world was watching. And they were.
After class, I went to my school's Current Events club (virtually, of course) and students from all grades expressed their feelings on the election. I could tell that we were all in a state of concern and anguish, excited but nervous that our country was now up for grabs. The club leaders played an SNL skit that aired after the 2016 election, starring Dave Chapelle and Chris Rock, and that eased the tension in the room. I mean, when do Dave Chapelle and Chris Rock not make you feel better?
After looking at CNN hosts all week, some of us went a lil bonkers. Myself included 😍
I figured we weren't going to find out who won on Tuesday night because of mail-in ballots and other complications Covid has brought, but dang, I wanted the remaining states to hurry up by Friday night! During Spanish class on Friday, I can assure you no one was paying attention to what my teacher was saying because we kept refreshing our browsers to see if the results had been updated. I googled "Election 2020 results from NYT" more times than I can count this past week. I stress-ate an entire bag of tootsie rolls over the four days because gosh, I was scared! Four more years of Trump would mean four more years of hatred spewing from his narcissistic mouth, attacks against marginalized communities, and I was scared that if he won, it would confirm my fear that this country, my home, is a terrifying place after all. I constantly FaceTimed my best friends to check in and see how they were feeling, our future in the hands of everyone else but us. I felt as if someone had tied me to a wooden chair, and there was little I could do but watch as our country either sunk to a grave death or floated to a brighter future. Thankfully we floated!
When I found out that Biden alas had won Pennsylvania, my first thought was yay! Now I don't have to boycott Philly cheesesteaks! Yes, it was that serious. Nevada was still counting, but at that point, PA had let us secure the win once and for all! As we speak, Georgia is finishing off the count, but Biden pretty much won there, and it is all thanks to queen Stacey Abrams and all the other Black women who helped register more Georgia voters for the 2020 election.
Joe Biden received the most votes any presidential candidate in the United States has EVER gotten. 75, 260,264 people (and counting) voted for him in this election. But let's not forget that over 70 million people still voted for Trump too. Our country is nowhere near progressive as we think. More white women voted for Trump in 2020 (55%) compared to the 53% (or 52% some polls found) who voted for him in 2016, according to a New York Times exit poll. Yet 91 % of Black women voted for Biden in this election. The Black community shows up time and time again for Democratic candidates. In his victory speech on Saturday night, Biden highlighted this fact, "And especially for those moments when this campaign was at its lowest — the African-American community stood up again for me. They always have my back, and I'll have yours."
Looking over the electoral maps from this race, I can see the division that runs deep in this country. Under Trump, our division has become as visible as a pimple on prom night. Hatred has run this country for the last four years, and I hope Joe Biden and Kamala can help us reconnect at last. People will still disagree with each other, but it boggles my mind that things such as science, racism, and human rights were up for debate under the Trump administration ?? Looking forward, as Joe Biden likes to say, "There will be no blue states or red states, just the United States." *Cue Joe's cheesy smile😁*
My family and I gathered around the television screen on Saturday night and watched as Kamala took the stage in Delaware in her blazing white pantsuit. One part of her speech stood out in particular to me :
"And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they've never seen it before.
And we will applaud you every step of the way."
I needed to hear that. Every Black and brown girl or boy needed to hear that. Kamla affirmed that this world belongs to me as much as it does to the white men who think they rule the world. Then Joe jogged onto the stage after Kamala's speech, and I bet the whole country laughed because he looked like your average American grandpa. Sweet, loving, and always trying to catch up to the party. That's what an American president should be. Someone, we can feel safe and proud to look at. Someone kids can look up to for years to come.
This country has a lot more to go. But I'm ready. Joe and Kamala are ready. And the rest of America better be prepared because change is coming! This does not mean the world will be perfect, racism will be fixed, and we can go back to being complacent. After all, Trump will still have access to his Twitter account and can say whatever he wants. I'm going to ignore it, and you should too ;) But I go to sleep tonight knowing that I have a president who believes my life matters. We all can go to sleep tonight with a massive weight off of our shoulders. Bask in the glory of a new day but the hard work doesn't end here. For now, we can drink apple cider, dance in fountains at Washington Square Park, cry, buy Jomala merch, and do whatever because we did it! Trump is about to fly away.
In every inch of my heart, I hope this is a start to four more hopeful years.