This past Sunday morning was the first time in four years that I woke up and thought to myself, “Everything is going to be okay.”
2020 has been full of grief, sadness, frustration, anger and uncertainty. We are a nation that is sick, hurting, and in need of leadership and guidance. Hate groups are energized, and our vulnerable populations are increasingly marginalized.
The way a president speaks matters. The way a president governs matters. The way a president leads matters.
Former President Barack Obama’s biggest philosophical messages were the idea of “the audacity of hope.” So often our country finds itself at a turning point – do we move forward, backward, or stay where we are?
Right now, America is at a turning point. Much of what we’re doing now isn’t working. People across the country are sick, dying, jobless and hopeless.
However, we cannot give up hope.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted every aspect of our lives, and will continue to get worse without an intervention. Donald Trump and his administration have proved themselves time and time again incompetent for this task.
Our country’s leadership for the past four years has been a sad example for our country’s children, ourselves, and the rest of the world.
America was offered a choice on Nov. 3 – and they have spoken. Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States. Kamala Harris will be the first woman to serve as Vice President of the United States.
Joe Biden has said, since the inception of his candidacy for president, that we are in a battle for the soul of this nation.
Now that this first battle is won, we have work to do.
We’ve lost some incredible people this year. The late Rep. John Lewis once said, “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.” Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away in September, once said, “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” Both Lewis and Ginsburg are models of character, examples of what the soul of this nation can and should look like.
It’s time to take their wisdom and use it to move forward, together.
In the past week, we witnessed the Trump administration and his campaign unravel before our eyes.
On the morning of Nov. 4 at 2 a.m., President Trump falsely proclaimed himself victorious in the 2020 election. He announced a legal battle and filed lawsuits in states including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, and Nevada, places where Biden’s winning margin was relatively small. The campaign has sent a multitude of emails to supporters, aggressively asking for donations to support their legal battles.
No one is denying that free and fair elections are the bedrock of our democracy and that all legal votes should be counted and illegal votes should not. However, given the absence of substantial proof of widespread fraudulent votes cast in this election, continuing to parrot this conspiracy is destructive and inflammatory to our democracy.
We knew all along that there would be a red mirage on Election Day – that Trump supporters were far more likely to vote in person on Election Day, and Biden voters were far more likely to vote absentee or via mail-in ballot. Many states do not allow mail-in ballots to be counted until Election Day, hence the early leads for Trump in states like Pennsylvania. It’s not that these ballots in Biden’s favor are magically appearing – it’s that they’re being counted in accordance with state law.
Given all of this, America is left with one choice – to move forward.
In his victory speech, Biden did not directly criticize the president. He talked about his own goals once taking office, he emphasized the importance of controlling COVID-19, and he thanked family, friends and supporters.
“And to those who voted for President Trump, I understand your disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple of elections myself. But now, let’s give each other a chance,” he said. “It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, to lower the temperature, to see each other again, to listen to each other again. To make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy. We are not enemies. We are Americans.”
Take this time to celebrate – to recognize the importance and magnitude of this moment and be proud of what we’ve accomplished as a nation. A record number of women won seats in the U.S. House. A woman of color will assume the office of Vice President for this first time in our country’s history. We experienced the most turnout of any election in U.S. history – both candidates broke records for most votes ever received in a presidential election. Love and kindness won, science won, decency won.
However, the next administration will inherit an absolute mess – from daily record-breaking COVID-19 numbers, to a less-than-healthy economy, to strained race relations, to family separation, to partisan division like we’ve never seen, to the need to act fast on climate change before irreparable damage is done. Many Trump-era orders will have to be altered or outright repealed. After this, the real work will begin. As Biden himself says, our country needs to build back better.
“I sought this office to restore the soul of America, to rebuild the backbone of this nation, the middle class, and to make America respected around the world again. And to unite us here at home. It’s the honor of my lifetime that so many millions of Americans have voted for that vision. And now, the work of making that vision is real, it’s a task – the task of our time,” said Biden.
Let’s get to work.
Photo Courtesy of the Smithsonian Magazine