Record-breaking Biden/Harris Victory Marks Turning Point in US but the fight of Injustice isn’t Over
With the victory of the Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris, we take a look back at how the last four years of Trump culminated in this historic election week.
Saturday, 7th November 2020. 11:28 am. Joseph Robinette Biden is announced as the President-elect of the United States and Kamala Devi Harris as the Vice-President-elect.
In three days, the projections went from favouring Trump, to a blue wave sweeping the nation and resulting in a potential victory of 306 electoral college votes – the same margin Trump won by in 2016. Polls had projected Biden to win, but there was still the overwhelming fear that Trump would rally together just enough votes for a second term.
In the four years of his presidency, Trump created rhetoric that marginalised entire communities, religions, and groups of people, dividing the nation amongst clear partisan lines. Though Trump may now be forced to leave the white house and the curtains are closing on his administration, the phenomenon of ‘Trumpism’ as it has come to be known, is still very much present in the United States. With a lot of progressives’ settling’ for the Biden/Harris ticket and Trump supporters angered by the results, it is vital to assess where this country is going next.
Donald Trump’s first rally attracted much attention, and not all of it was glowing. His speech was a crass attack on Mexican peoples, declaring that many Mexican immigrants were “bring drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists”. Almost immediately, Trump was thrust into the presidential race spotlight, as a ‘straight-talking’ candidate from outside of the Washington establishment, who was not afraid to make his feelings and opinions known. It was on the back of this image that Trump paved his way to the White House, losing the popular vote but winning the majority of the electoral college.
His administration was marked by a series of pivotal moments: white nationalists marching in Charleston, pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement and retracting funding from the World Health Organisation amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, and tense periods of conflict on the international political stage. The last year of his term was perhaps the most chaotic: the virus contributing to rising unemployment and economic downturn, amidst the growing unrest of movements like Black Lives Matter protesting in the face of his administrations’ apathy to the unlawful treatment of Black people by the police.
FBI data found that there has been an anomalous spike in hate crimes in the states where Trump polled highest in 2016, being the second-largest uptick in hate crimes – second to the increase seen in the aftermath of 9/11. Communities of Black people, Latinos, Muslims, Jewish people, LGBTQI+ people, and countless other minority groups have been at the receiving end of violence and intimidation, spurred on by the rhetoric of the man occupying the White House.
Though there is now a different ticket and different administration lines up to take the presidency, we must remind ourselves not to be complacent. Although he lost, Trump still received a popular vote of over 70 million votes and retained his lead in several states.
Trump supporters insist on social media that the election was rigged and are protesting outside of poll counting stations, either demanding an end to counting in the states where Biden is winning by a large margin or demanding counting continue in states where the margin is small.
Many are now preparing for the possibility of widespread protest and potential violence, and even if these events do not occur, the fear people feel speaks volumes. ‘Trumpism’ is still very much alive and well, and the election of Trump in 2016 marked a watershed moment in politics that legitimised a lot of hate and prejudice brewing within the nation.
Another fight for this incoming administration is the split within the Democrat party. Despite rallying behind the common cause of defeating Trump, many within the party made it clear that they were ‘settling’ for Biden and Harris. The president and vice president-elect now face a growing progressive caucus within the party. They will certainly have to listen to this side of the party given the overwhelming number of young people and new voters rallying behind politicians such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib. The top actors within the Democrats must now assess the future of the party as the face of the Democratic movement shifts from the older, more moderate makeup to a new, more progressive bloc that is ever-growing by the day.
For these reasons, it is clear that Biden and Harris must be ready to embrace the new generation of Democrats who have displayed that they have no qualms with holding the executive to account, be they from another party or their own.
Overall, this election has been an incredibly historical one. Biden won the presidency by the largest number of popular votes ever recorded in election history, over 75 million. Though it is still being calculated, studies suggest that this year’s turnout was the highest in roughly 120 years, and Bloomberg estimates the range to lie between 68.6-72.1% turnout overall. This was spurred by the work of thousands of grassroots activists across the country, from Stacey Abrams who inspired roughly 800,000 to get out to vote in Georgia, to Pennsylvania Stands Up, a multi-racial working-class organisation that got more than 400,000 people out to vote in the state. Furthermore, Kamala Harris makes history as being the first woman to serve as vice president, as well as the first Black person and South Asian person to occupy the office.
Amidst the underlying turmoil of 2020, the American people have demonstrated that they are overwhelmingly ready to embrace change. Many hope that with Biden and Harris will come the opportunity to implement a fairer and more equal society in America.
However, it is essential to remember that bigotry and prejudice will not be wiped away at an instant when Biden and Harris come to power in 74 days. The United States is a nation built on the foundations of inequality, and Americans are taking strides to combat that every day. Biden/Harris 2020 is the first brick in the road towards an America that is fairer and more equal, that stands firm in the face of all struggles, be they for the climate, against gun violence, or intolerance in all of its forms.
The fight is easier with the departure of Trump from the White House, but it is in no way over.