We might not have all drowned in the volatile waves of what nearly became a true authoritarian state, but today’s victory doesn’t mean the ocean of politics will stop thrashing. Though the Biden-Harris ticket claims victory, the night skies aren’t clear enough to follow the North star.
I’m not convinced the blood-soaked hands of the federal government could helm us to a haven, anyways. What worthiness have we proven to the world when we consistently pull out of valuable international relationships, investments, humanitarian developments, and reparations for the destruction caused by our own interventions like in Latin America? Not much – I’ve travelled to over 12 countries, and I have been ashamed to introduce myself as an American in each. Every time I do, I am hushed by an awkward, silencing, mutual acknowledgement of what my country has done to this world.
So I ask you, the reader, are we even worth this victory? Are we even worth better?
Trump nearly won re-election, and Biden was barely able to flip Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Georgia. Such a close race reflects that this country is still embedded in politics founded upon discrimination and exceptionalism – a foundation not so good for a world rapidly plunged into globalization.
The electoral college has proven to deter democracy as gerrymandering from both Democrats and Republicans overtakes the popular vote, which is what most modern democracies use to determine state leaders. Furthermore, the two-party system has created a drama of American politics. After all, not many will delve into the world of policies that exist outside of the Democratic Party or Republican Party. We’re limited by two corrupt groups that fight each other to control us more than anything else. Both democrats and republicans have failed us throughout the decades.
So I ask you again, the reader, have we really done better? Is this really a victory?
Surely it is, of some kind. I couldn’t exclude that millions of Americans have suffered under Trump’s “dictatorship” because of inflated racial inequity, climate changes, mistreatment of immigrant and refugee communities, and discrimination based on gender and sexual identities. And Biden wants to find remedies to these problems that increasing numbers of Americans are facing, but he won’t solve them. Biden can’t abolish these conflicts – the Democratic Party, whom he represents, hasn’t shown interest in that. Such problems are embedded into our history, pumped into our blood, and have founded our ideologies.
They’ve always been there, and Biden won’t change that. What assures me is that Harris is the first woman, and woman of color to serve as Vice President. Our pride should bury itself in such a precedent.
She advocates against gun violence, racial inequity, decriminalizing marijuana, and expanding healthcare access. She represents progressive politics within the Democratic Party, and for that I applaud the efforts from Biden to clear the skies.
But I must emphasize, the Biden-Harris win cannot do it alone.
America’s two-party system has convinced us to fight for the best of two evils, in an indirect democracy that falsely promises power to the people. For over a year, 2020 election campaigns focused on opposing Trump, and in the last lingering moments of dread, it became solely about either despising or fanatically boot-licking Trump.
You can’t be anything other than this or that – can you imagine yourself so? Can you fathom those beliefs manifested in your reality? I’m sorry if perhaps you do, because America’s ocean will crash down on you and soak you in red or blue.
But that was important this election go-round – never mind that the president has the power to transform the dynamics of a country’s government and policy actions, when your biggest challenge is to stop authoritarianism from overcoming the world’s supposed “freest” country.
Yet here we are, stranded in a storm with a sinking boat, and Biden might stop whoever was cracking the hull, but he won’t steer this boat to welfare even if we ever get to see the shoreline of that fantasy.
Time is running out before we can save the world from the climate deterioration we’ve brought upon the globe that is not ours to own. The seconds are ticking before another Black man is killed at the hands of racist, negligent, complicit police. And right before our eyes, immigrants feel tears seep into their skin as they face a future that won’t stop throwing them in jails with ankle monitors for seeking a life worth living.
Biden will listen to science. He wants to use science-supported political decisions to guide Covid-19 policy and climate change. He wants to give educators “the pay and dignity they deserve”, but doesn’t outline specifically what that looks like. Though, Biden has pledged to invest $1 billion a year to help teachers advance their certifications and support additional work like mentoring.
He’ll also provide a better immigration policy, as he promises to protect the DACA program, rescind refugee bans, provide more pathways to legal residence, and most interestingly – “convene a regional meeting of leaders, including from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Canada, to address the factors driving migration and to propose a regional resettlement solution.”
But according to the Pew Research Center, Obama’s administration, of which Biden was vice-president, had consistently higher ICE apprehensions, though decreasing, than those under Trump. And removals of unauthorized immigrants have risen, but still remained at lower numbers than under the entirety of Obama and Biden’s eight-year tenure.
Can Biden really make a promise? Is he truly any different than any of the other politicians playing the politician’s game of fake promises? Biden drew voters with about 50 ‘plans’ – outlined stances on important issues and how Biden would initiate a response to them, like ending the opioid crisis, supporting veterans, and tackling racial inequity. But can Biden really do what he has convinced millions he would do, in four years?
I’d sure hope so. But it is difficult to be hopeful as an 18-year-old first-generation American and recent high school graduate who grew up watching false promises become routine among politicians and affect underserved communities that I am a part of, those my friends are a part of, and those my family are a part of.
This boat we are packed in, the survivors of the Trump Administration and the havoc it has caused, we’ve got a long trip ahead of us. But at least now we have someone who won’t backtrack us another step, at least I am praying for that. I’m fortunate for that, as most people might be.
But it doesn’t mean we should try any less to make this world a better place. Lives still depend on us, and on what we do or fail to do. And it is just as important to fight today, like we did yesterday. Our reality, unfortunately, will not change overnight or in four years. Thus, we must not relinquish our efforts and our will to fight like we did during Trump’s presidency.
The evils of government still reign above us, and they are rooted so deeply that they may remain when we die.
Alexa is an avid journalist seeking an A.A. with an emphasis on Global Studies at Seattle Central College. She's interested in pursuing investigative journalism to report on social struggles like immigration, civil rights, and access to education in South and North America. She is currently working to cover budget cut reforms at Central and civil rights movements in Seattle. Alexa is also a Youth Council Member at OneAmerica, advocating for greater access to quality education for immigrants and refugees in WA. She is a first-generation American who has travelled to 13 countries to explore world cultures and politics.