Election Week can be broken down into a handful of stages for me.
First came the absolute void. On Election Day when I knew that votes were being counted, people were heading to polls, and the long week ahead was just about to begin. Unlike in 2016, when I was in high school and was absolutely certain that Hillary Clinton would win, I told myself this year: DO NOT get your hopes up! Unlike in 2016, I was actually voting and knew the election results wouldn’t be final within a few hours.
Then came the incessant refreshing. As soon as results started to come in, I couldn’t stop refreshing every news source I could find on election updates and the electoral count. As states wavered between red and blue, I was hopeful still but honestly more shocked by how close the election was. After four years of having Trump as our president, the sheer hatred, division and utter lack of leadership this country has experienced, how was this race so close? I didn’t enter this election in 100% agreement with Joe Biden, but I racked my brain to try and understand how Trump supporters could vote him in for another four years?
And that is when the questioning stage began. I’ve lived my whole life in New Jersey and all of my close friends are liberal. Of course, I’ve had classmates and co-workers with drastically different views than my own but looking at the electoral map light up in bloody red, with Trump winning by a landslide in states including: Kentucky and Ohio, made me think deeply – now more than ever – about the fact that we all live in the same country but experience such different realities. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly Trump supporters where I live, and many even look like me or have had the same upbringing. But it’s clear that something about us must be different, right? Well, I’m not sure.
I can say that from an administration standpoint, Trump and Biden differ but I feel that Trump gained enormous support not due to his policies but because he exacerbated divides already existed in our country and have remained since the day America was founded. Trump’s campaign ran on selfishness, which unfortunately, can be enticing. Without strengthening classic Republican ideals, Trump has created an entire following who rally “Trumpism” which I’ve come to know as disbelievers of women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, black rights and whole other handfuls of things that ultimately and disproportionately hurt anyone who isn’t white, straight and wealthy.
Then, the wave of relief. Biden is announced as the 46th President of the United States and we can finally celebrate this agonizing week coming to an end. But those divisions, the subtle and overt racism amplified and encouraged over the last four years, as well as the reality of our flawed governmental system still exists. There’s numerous claims of fraudulent votes, though lacking evidence and it’s now unclear whether Trump will leave the White House peacefully.
As I celebrate the end of Trump in office, I’m also celebrating Kamala Harris as the first female Black and South Asian woman to be our vice president. But now what? How do we continue to hold our new commanders accountable for their future actions. Trump is not the bar of comparison, he is the worst case scenario. Going forward, I’m hopeful that our country can come together and hold our leaders accountable for who they are and what they do.