Why millions of Americans still can’t breathe easy after the relief of a Biden/Harris win as told by an American liberal
I’ve lived in Donald Trump’s America for the past four years. Politically, I’m slightly to the left of Bernie Sanders, despite living in one of the most traditionally conservative states. I surround myself with fellow liberals, which, frankly, concerned me back in 2016. Everyone got cocky. Everyone shrugged off Trump’s cronies and got ready to celebrate America’s first female president, while saying a Trump victory was “impossible.”
Then, the impossible happened. The glass shattered, the sirens blared, the bigots cheered, and our hearts stopped. The moment when the Associated Press switched from two pictures to one, and the words “President Elect” appeared under the image of Donald Trump, is as close as I will ever get to understanding how it must’ve felt when Kingsley’s patronus burst into Bill and Fleur’s wedding to declare “THE MINISTRY HAS FALLEN.”
And now that another election is complete, it’s still hard to get a finger on the pulse of America, since we as a country have been effectively gaslit by Donald Trump for over four years. What was once deemed an unthinkable action from a US President is merely a Tuesday now. And as we watched the Democratic primaries for the last year or so, that cockiness, the same cockiness that made voters shrug and led to Lin Manuel Miranda’s singing “never gonna be president” in the studios of SNL, was replaced by an eerie sense of optimistic terror.
We debated the pros and cons of a true progressive versus a moderate, woman versus man, known versus unknown, and a myriad of other “electable” qualities when whittling down candidates. This brought us to Joe Biden. One of the most likable Vice Presidents with a lifetime of public service, a law degree, a Presidential Medal of Freedom and a delightful cameo on Parks and Recreation. But in spite of this, over 74 million people voted for the pussy grabbing, reality star who’s been accused of sexual assault 20+ times, separated families and gave a wink and a nod to white supremacists on national television barely two months ago.
On the evening of November 3rd, I watched in anticipation with the rest of the world as Donald Trump ticked ahead in key states. Even though I knew it was far from over; we’d been down this road before.
The first time around I stayed up till the bitter end because, if America was going to go down in flames, I needed to watch the last ember burn, to be able to believe that it happened in the first place. This time around, I went to bed knowing I’d probably awake to the news of Donald Trump declaring victory in spite of the fact that the election wouldn’t realistically be called for several days. He didn’t disappoint. He called victory. He said to stop the count in states where he was ahead. He said to keep counting votes where he was behind. He referred to massive voter fraud with no evidence. And his people BELIEVED HIM. As a country, we collectively clenched our jaws a little tighter. We all increasingly shared memes of the movie Groundhog Day as we woke up again and again to a new day without knowing who the next president would be.
And then it happened. I woke up, checked my phone, looked through emails, clicked on Facebook, and the first thing I saw was a post from my cousin, Jillian: “CONFIRMED: We have a sane president.” I frantically swiped over to my internet browser to learn that only minutes before, Biden was projected to win Pennsylvania, meaning he had enough votes to confidently be called “President Elect.” I took a screenshot of the electoral map and texted at least 20 people. I scrolled and scrolled past videos of people cheering in their living rooms, dancing in the streets, banging pots and pans out their windows in large cities on lockdown as I searched for Trump’s reaction. Nothing. There were images of him coming back from golf and LOTS of jokes about Rudy Giuliani giving a press conference between a crematorium and a sex shop, but nothing from Trump.
“This was the quietest Trump had been since before he decided to run for president. And as much as I wanted to jump for joy, I felt a twinge of dread in my stomach.”
Many journalists predicted it, we’ve watched it unfold, and we’re praying it’s almost over. Votes have been counted, recounted and counted again. Even with the security agencies calling this the most secure election ever, MAGA supporters are taking to the streets, Republican leaders are scarily falling in line, and Donald Trump is NOT conceding. There is no modern day precedent for this. Will Trump have to be dragged from the White House? Will enough Republicans stand by his fuckery to provide Trump with an unconstitutional coup? I don’t know. Most people are rolling their eyes and going about their days, because we’ve been victims to his gaslighting for (again) FOUR YEARS. We’re used to shrugging and hoping for the best. I, too, hope for the best.
As the weeks continue to pass, it seems more likely that Trump might just leave the White House voluntarily. Mind you, he will never admit he lost. He’ll continue to claim voter fraud; I mean, the guy still doesn’t believe that he lost the popular vote in 2016 (he did). He tweets and whines and wishes Rudy Giuliani—star of Borat 2 and the most recent of Trump’s people to have tested positive for COVID—a swift recovery. I don’t think he actually cares as much as he wants Rudy back in the courtroom to drive more phony election fraud lawsuits, but I digress.
I wish I could fully bathe in the joy of having our first female VP (also our first African-American and Asian-American VP)! And, I’m happy, I truly am. But as much as I wept tears of joy when I watched people with Biden/Harris signs dancing on cars to Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is You, the next month is going to be rough. I fear there will be no COVID relief bill and no listening to science as cases continue to sky-rocket.
So far, the transition process has been a bumpy ride. After lots of whining from Trump that the world has wronged him, funds have finally begun to unlock and Biden has started to receive intelligence briefings. But citizens are still hurting. Millions unemployed, sick and set to lose much needed benefits just the day after Christmas. But a Biden victory alone can’t fix it.
While I remain cautiously optimistic following Biden’s historic win, this American won’t fully unclench until Biden has the keys to the White House and Trump is on his way back to Trump Tower or, better yet, (fill in the blank).
Words Nicole Caliro
Art Alexandra Lara