On Saturday, November 7th, 2020 Joe Biden was elected the 46th President of the United States of America with Senator Kamala D. Harris of California as the first female Vice President. He is set to be inaugurated on January 20th, 2021.
Okay so Biden was elected, (yay) now what?
Voting for Joe Biden is not a free pass to say you're "woke", because that implies that the work is done and there is no more improvement to be had. "[Woke] is a word meant to imply a constant state of striving, course-correcting and growth has been heard now, [however] for almost a decade, as a static and performative state of being" (Sanders). The rhetoric surrounding this terms has been an overused way for people to reassure people they are informed and "politically correct"; however, this is far from the truth, because we should all be actively striving to be more educated, inclusive, and compassionate people. There is no way to be truly "woke" because every day we have a responsibility as human beings who care about other human beings to be aware of the impact our words and actions hold and stay accountable.
Being Trump's successor is not an easy task and we must remember to not lower our expectations for Joe Biden simply because anyone would be a comparatively better president than Donald Trump.
1. New Faces to Watch Out For!
Not only do we have the first Black and south Asian female Vice President, but there are even more noteworthy achievements within other underrepresented communities.
Why is an increase in diversity among policy makers important? For centuries, the U.S. has been ruled by an agenda written and administered by white men, which in turn benefits mostly white men. Therefore, not only does diversity allow for a wider range of perspectives, but it's an opportunity for more inclusive policies because serving the people means representing the American demographic of unique individuals, not just white men, who deserve to have their voices heard and their rights protected. This is a sign of progress.
- Mondaire Jones (D), US House Ny-17: one of the first out gay black men in congress
- Ritchie Torres (D), US House NY-15: first out gay afro Latino member of congress
- Mauree Turner (D), State House OK-88: first non-binary state lawmaker in the US and first Muslim in OK's state house
- Sarah McBride (D), State Senate DE-01: First out transgender state senator in America
- Stephanie Byers (D), State House KS-86: First out trans person of color elected to a US state house
- Todd Gloria (D), San Diego Mayor: an out gay mayor in the largest city in America
Native Lawmakers Joining Congress
- Deb Haaland (D), NM: Pueblo of Laguna and Jemez Pueblo
- Kaiali'i 'Kal' Kahele (D), HI: Native Hawaiian
- Sharice Davids (D), KS: Ho-Chunk Nation
- Tom Cole (R), OK: Chickasaw Nation
- Yvette Herrell (R), NM: Cherokee Nation
- Markwayne Mullin (R), OK: Cherokee Nation
2. Trump is in Hot Water
We also cannot forget December 18, 2019, when the House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, making him the third president ever to be impeached. However, the case then moved to a Senate trial where U.S. Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts led the trial which resulted in the Senate voting to acquit Trump on all charges.
Although not all the cases have come to fruition, whether he is 100% guilty or innocent, the sheer mass of allegations against one man, speaks to the lack of integrity and disposition of Donald Trump.
3. Healing Foreign Relations
There has been an increasing amount of discord between the U.S. and the rest of the world, due heavily to the mistrust of the Trump administration which creates national security risks against Americans.
Not only is he endangering Americans, but he is doing more harm than good to the relationships and allies the U.S. has left. In 2017, Trump pulled out of the Paris climate deal, because he believed countries were not coming together over climate change but trying to undermine the United States' finances. This included ending contributions to the Green Climate Fund which was helping developing countries. This is an irrational claim as the United States is an international powerhouse that is not threatened by a committee trying to protect the environment. Although global trends toward renewable energies have continued in the United States, this move by the Trump administration isolated the United States relations with other countries.
Additionally, the Trump Administration's lack of urgency and collaboration over COVID-19, has taken the lives of thousands of American.
Trump said he was worried that too much testing would make the U.S. "look bad," however, he has been doing that since January 20th, 2017. He made the U.S. "look bad," in the first five crucial months:
- He left America without fair, affordable healthcare for all.
- He repeatedly used discriminatory language when referring to the coronavirus as the "Wuhan Virus."
- He didn't invoke the Defense Production Act as a priority, but rather as a last resort.
- He issued a travel ban to the EU without consulting the members of the EU.
- He continued to push his anti-environment agenda amid the pandemic, taking advantage of distracted American citizens who were grieving and in fear of this global health emergency, by continuing to sell thousands of acres of public land to polluters, aka oil and gas companies.
- He deemed it appropriate, 'sarcastic' or not, to suggest drinking/injecting bleach to kill the coronavirus
- His initial response to COVID-19 lacked urgency, claiming it was a hoax and just a flu, instead of recognizing the coronavirus as the deadly disease it is.
The country needed guidance and hope more than ever, and President Trump and his administration chose to fail the U.S. with his lack of strong, moral leadership.
President elect Biden will have to take advantage of every opportunity to bring back dignity to the U.S., but at least Trump is no longer in office.
1. This Election Has Revealed How Deeply Polarized Our Country Is
Before the election, it was clear that, "Americans disagree sharply about systemic racism, the state of our democracy, the economy, presidential decorum and norms, immigration, the United States' place in the larger world, the seriousness of the pandemic, the threat posed by climate change, and other issues" (Koehn).
- Supporting and voting for Trump does not make you a racist. But you decided racism wasn't a deal breaker.
- Supporting and voting for Trump does not make you misogynistic. But you decided misogyny wasn't a deal breaker.
- Supporting and voting for Trump does not mean you condone sexual assault. But you decided multiple sexual allegations wasn't a deal breaker.
- Supporting and voting for Trump does not mean you condone fraud. But you decided multiple lawsuits wasn't a deal breaker.
And President Trump refusing to concede only makes it worse. By ignoring pleas for a peaceful exchange of power, Trump promotes the animosity between Republicans and Democrats.
Why does this matter? Well, it has left us with a divided country. Civil unrest will unfold as long as winner and loser poison our policts and drive us apart.
2. COVID Case Numbers Are Increasing
November is on track to be the worst month of the pandemic in the US starting off with record COVID hospitalizations. As the holiday season approaches and spending time outside becomes more difficult with the cold weather in New England, please keep being safe. It's more important than ever.
While a vaccine will have a positive impact, we can't rely on medicine alone to protect us when we can know the preventative measures we need to be taking. A vaccine should be the last resort.
Wearing a mask and socially distancing is number one. Do not rely on talk of a vaccine prevent you from continuing to follow COVID protocols because the bottom line is, although there are two vaccines in the works from Pfizer and Moderna, currently no vaccine is ready for distribution.
But if there is a vaccine, who gets the vaccine and how will it be distributed?
As Governor Anthony Cuomo stated in a speech the other day, "We know that our Black, brown, and poorer communities have fewer health care institutions...which is why the death toll is so high for Black and brown, communities. We're not going to make the same mistake again." He calls for an equitable distribution plan for the vaccine, not just for those who can afford it. This is an opportunity to prevent the cycle of systemic racism form injecting our nation.
Let's hope the Biden Plan to Combat COVID-19 proves itself to bring effecrive and postive change during this pandemic.
3. Biden, We're Watching
In his victory speech, Biden announced that, "this is the time to heal in America," and said, "I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify, who doesn't see red states and blue states, only sees the United States." Biden doesn't have big shoes to fill; however, that is not an excuse to not do the necessary work or settle for, "At least he's better than Trump." While that may be true, Trump has set the bar as low as possible. We will all have to wait and see the extent to which Biden's policies and time in office truly unify the country.
Some of Biden's future problems...
- The supreme court, an allegedly non-partisan system, is still 6-3 conservative majority court, including the rapid confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
- Republicans are projected to control the Senate as well. Although our president is a democrat, there is power in the legislature that is leaning one way.
- Biden proposes to replace the Green New Deal (2019) with Biden's Climate Plan for combatting climate change which he claims is more detailed and attainable than the previous plan. This includes a $2 trillion proposal that will not only produce jobs but lower the carbon emissions in the US. He acknowledges that greater attention and money must be allocated towards historically disadvantaged areas to promote justice and equity in vulnerable communities. However, this plan still does not address fracking, mining for oil, which is harming the environment with its excessive water usage and is an unsustainable energy source.
- "Two eight-year Democratic presidencies over the last 30 years have not significantly impacted these issues. A stark racial wealth gap, school segregation, corrosive inequality, a climate crisis and a democratic deficit at the heart of America's electoral college are but some of the issues that confront the new president." (The Harvard Gazette).
- Combatting systemic racism. In the wake of BLM, the fight to protect Black bodies and combat police brutality are only at the beginning stages. Also, don't forget that President Trump racially charged comments about COVID-19 as the China virus and the Kung Flu, has placed a target on Asian Americans.
- The U.S. is in a massive recession, which is a direct consequence of President Trump's failure to effectively fight COVID-19. Biden will need to rectify the damages and restore stability to the American economy