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  • Writer's pictureFiona

The US 2020 Election: What it Means Now and Moving Forward

The presidential election of 2020 was undoubtedly one of the most controversial ones in history. It took place on November 3 between candidates Joe Biden (Democrat) and Donald Trump (Republican). Voter turnout this year was at an all-time high, but in order to determine which candidate was the right fit for the presidency, voters had to consider some of the most important issues of this election: the COVID crisis, immigration, climate change, abortion, law enforcement, and healthcare.

The year 2020 began with a buzz of excitement for the new decade, which quickly spiraled into chaos as the coronavirus took over all of our lives. As the US approached a death toll of 250,000 from the virus, it is no wonder it was a main issue this campaign season. Often criticised for his slow initial response to the virus, Donald Trump has followed his ‘America first’ values throughout the pandemic roll out. Opting frequently to not wear a mask, President Trump had emphasized the importance of preserving the economy often over health measures and suggestions from doctors. Biden on the other hand argued during his campaign he would follow the advice of experts and follow the steps necessary to return to normalcy. This includes his willingness for a national mask mandate and shutdowns.

The murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis, MN police officer in May also sparked another movement that highly influenced the 2020 election. Following the event, global uproar resurfaced conversations about the way law enforcement is set up in the nation. President Trump, while sympathizing with the tragedy, assured his support for law enforcement. He prefers to work with law enforcement to further protect communities by increasing funding for officers as well as crime reduction strategies. Trump continuously pushes for respect for officers among the great criticism for the profession and the way it causes harm. Biden has similarly stated he is not for abolishing the police, but would like to move funding from incarceration towards prevention. This would include funding education and mental health services, while also promising to legally address the misconduct by officers.

With the recent swearing-in of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the quesiton of abortion rights in America’s future was up in the air. Since Barrett was confirmed, conservatives became the majority of the Supreme Court, 6-3. This shift of power had great implications for a variety of issues regarding the 2020 election, such as affirmative action, abortion rights, personal privacy rights, etc. Donald Trump, the one who nominated Barrett, says that he has delivered unprecedented victories for the pro-life movement by stopping taxpayer money from flowing to Planned Parenthood (the largest abortion business in the U.S), and reinstating and expanding the ban on Americans' tax dollars paying for abortions in foreign countries. For the Americans who are pro-choice, this new justice appointment may have been seen as a devasting blow to human rights in this country. Biden’s views lay on the opposite side of the spectrum, his campaign website says that he wants to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate the constitutional right to an abortion, parental notification requirements, mandatory waiting periods, and ultrasound requirements.

The results of this election rolled out in an unprecedented manner. Only a little over half of Americans say they voted in person, with others opting for absentee and mail-in ballots. Any early and mail-in balloting would not be counted until election night with the in-person votes, so election results were predicted to take up to a few weeks. Still, on election night, Biden supporters were in a frenzy as Trump appeared to surge forward in the polls. Reporters expected this as the in-person votes were predicted to be a majority for Trump. The key swing states in the election were Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Arizona, Florida, Texas, and Minnesota.

People in the US woke up the morning of November 7th to the prediction by major US news sites that Joe Biden had won the 2020 election. He achieved this by winning 8 of 13 swing states called after nights of counting ballots. However, Biden’s win was not without challenge. Immediately following the announcements of Biden winning key electoral votes, President Trump and his administration filed over 50 lawsuits against states such as Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, with recounts being held in Wisconsin. As of right now, none of the investigations have found evidence of fraud, and only a few lawsuits still remain, while others have been thrown out.

The handling of coronavirus is a main concern for the transition between Trump and Biden. Initially, the reluctance of anyone on the Trump team to accept defeat meant that Biden would not gain access to important information regarding the government’s role and knowledge in COVID-19 numbers and potential vaccines. Now, more than a month after the election, President-Elect Biden has put together a COVID-19 advisory council, consisting of doctors and medical professionals. Biden has also promised to acknowledge the disparities between different groups of people when it comes to who is becoming ill and dying. This includes the elderly, non-white populations, and impoverished individuals. He plans to create a COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force to directly address these issues. The urgency for cooperation between the Trump and Biden teams can not be overstated, for to combat the outstretching impacts of the pandemic there must be clear communication of information. This is even more relevant as of recent, for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been FDA approved for emergency use, starting with healthcare and essential workers.

In late November, Biden announced the people who would fill his seven essential communication roles in the White House. For the first time in history, all the roles were filled completely by women, which may not be all that surprising given that his vice president, Kamala Harris, is the first female in this position. Biden’s new communications team is comprised of the following women:

  • Kate Bedingfield: Biden’s communications director

  • Jen Psaki: White House press secretary

  • Karine Jean-Pierre: White House deputy press secretary

  • Ashley Etienne: Harris’s communications director

  • Symone Sanders: Senior Harris advisor and chief spokesperson

  • Pili Tobar: White House deputy communications director

  • Elizabeth Alexander: Jill Biden’s communications director

When asked why Biden opted for an all-female team, he responded with “I am proud to announce today the first senior White House communications team composed entirely of women. These qualified, experienced communicators bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better”. What does this mean for future news coverage of the Biden administration? This all-female team will be expected to disrupt political and government coverage in the news as it is still told from a dominantly male perspective, which will allow the team to get their chance to speak out on the actions being taken within the administration from a fresh point of view.

Additionally, major roles in national security and economic positions have been given to women, setting Biden up to follow through with his promise to bring in a diverse group of individuals to his administration. All of this coincides with Kamala Harris being not only the first woman, but first black and south Asian politician elected as Vice President. All of this comes during the 100 year anniversary of women’s suffrage (white women) in the US. These monumental strides forward in diversity in politics are important in creating an accurate representation of the American people within the US government, however, the decisions these politicians make are just as important when it comes to making progress for marginalized communities.

During the past 4 years of the Trump administration, many Americans who were not supporters of the president remarked that it felt like there was another startling news story to wake up to every morning. Whether it was Trump’s tweets threatening nuclear war on other nations, or his fumbling all-caps typos, it seemed as though the74-year-oldd reality star was just the mortifying spectacle we would see on TV. However, in this case, it resulted in a devastating economic crash, more than a quarter of a million deaths from coronavirus, the dismissal of blatant racial discrimination, and white supremacy from the American president. With all the chaos that has erupted in 2020, it is important to remember the real-world implications of the past 4 years. While it is a hope by many Americans to rid themselves of the memories of news headlines and bigoted speeches, there is also value in holding any president under a critical lens no matter one’s political affiliations. Moving into 2021, those who’ve had the privilege to turn a blind eye to the news previously will hopefully resolve to keeping up to date with the Biden administration and continue the work of equality and equity in the United States.

Written by Fiona and Quinn, edited by Jacklyn

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