Dear USA

Election Reflection and a Skeptical Sigh of Relief

It’s been two days since Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were declared president-elect and vice president-elect after defeating Donald Trump with 290 electoral votes in a nail-biting and historic election. I’ve had a couple of days to process it all and collect my thoughts amid the roller coaster of emotions last week brought. I have a lot to say, and wanted to share them in a blog post since:

  1. I haven’t been active on here in a LONG time.
  2. There isn’t enough space on an Instagram caption.

To start with, the Biden/Harris ticket was already historic because Kamala was the first black woman and woman of South Asian descent to run on a presidential ticket. Their victory also means that–for the first time in U.S. history–a woman will hold the second-highest office in the land. (FUCK YEAH!!!!)

Joe, on the other hand, is officially the oldest president-elect in history at nearly 78 years old. Yet, he has broken Barack Obama’s record for most votes ever cast for a presidential candidate–75+ million vs 71+ million for Trump. The 2020 election also saw a record turnout of voters–a number that hasn’t been seen since 1900 (which is great, but also kind of sad?).

As a woman, Democrat, American abroad, daughter of immigrants and someone who has watched in horror at what the current administration has done for the past four years… I am outright elated. I’ve also cried about fifteen times since Saturday–both for joy and sadness.

Joy for what is to come. Sadness for what the last four years have done to us.

I haven’t been quiet about my disgust and disdain for the Trump campaign/administration since he first announced his running in 2015. In fact, as the years pass, my rage only grows… and it’s not even over his policies most of the time, some of which I actually agree with.

No, it’s the other stuff. The attack on democratic institutions, processes and norms. The lies. Disinformation. Fearmongering. Vulgarity. Corruption. Scandals. Lawsuits. Polarization. Hate. Oh, the hate. The racism. White supremacy. Homophobia. Sexism. “Us against them”. Yet, 71+ million voted for him in spite of all of it. The last four years have seen a huge rift between Americans–a division that surely didn’t start with Trump, but significantly widened under him. If before, discussing politics (even though it’s much, much more than “just politics” now) at an American dinner table was considered taboo, it sure as hell is pretty much out of the question today.

With a Biden/Harris presidency, many Americans hope decency will return to not only the political stage, but even to our everyday lives given that it was the main message of their entire campaign. Decency leads to understanding, but–I’ll be honest–it’s really difficult to try and see eye-to-eye with people whom don’t consider others’ humanity and facts facts. Whom equate patriotism with unfailing loyalty to their leader. Whom deem InfoWars as a reputable news source, and vilify CNN for being “far left”. (Here’s a great chart for news literacy showing bias in U.S. media if you’re interested.)

I don’t mean to imply that all Trump voters are like this. No. What I am saying is that many of his supporters prefer to take the dangerously misleading advice of TV/radio conservative host Sean Hannity (Fox News is, after all, the country’s most-watched cable news channel) over the nation’s top immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci when it comes to Covid-19. Or listen to Tucker Carlson’s incendiary commentary regarding the Black Lives Matter movement over the insight of public academic and anti-racism activist, Rachel Cargle. They tune in and dial up the hate–fuck your feelings, they say. Libtards, they say. If you don’t like our country or the election results, then leave!

I’ve been so angry at Trump for unleashing such toxicity into society, angrier at the Americans who are taking his bait in this new era of politics–an ugly era where up is down and the sky is green. But is it their fault? I’m struggling with this, to be honest. I don’t struggle, however, with the fact that Trump and those who have enabled him knew fucking better. They just did.

Do you remember when he told veterans in a 2018 speech that what they are seeing and hearing is not true, and no one batted an eye? Or when his former top counselor Kellyanne Conway said on live TV that Sean Spicer gave “alternative facts” when discussing inauguration numbers during his first White House press briefing? (But we can’t be too mad about that because it gave us Melissa McCarthy riding on a Segway around NYC…)

Now, the anger is subsiding, but the damage has been done and I can’t help but feel an immense sadness. How can we return to civility when we give in to outlandish conspiracy theories that endanger our fellow Americans? How can we understand eachother when we can’t even agree on what’s real?

Dissent, as they say, is American as apple pie. But embracing only a portion of Americans and disparaging the rest is not. Attacking the press is not. Attacking the truth is not.

In his victory speech on Saturday night, President-Elect Biden addressed the American people:

For all those of you who voted for President Trump–I understand the disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple times myself, but now.. let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see eachother again. Listen to eachother again. And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies–they’re Americans.

See eachother again.

Listen to eachother again. 

It feels like so long ago since that was considered normal, no? So many people and communities have felt defeated these past four years; others have been energized. It’ll be a long road to unity. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris cannot undo what has been done under this administration, but they will try and take the first steps in healing the wound of a bent–not broken–nation.

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