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Thoughts from the 2020 Presidential Election

I took a few days to process the results of this year's Presidential election - yes, the actual, real, valid results. Not the disputed one as per the claims of the current President and his devoted followers.  

As many around the nation erupted in celebration at the confirmation that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had attained the 270 electoral votes needed to become the President-elect of these United States...or this nation (more on the "united" part in a bit), I too found an inner victory within. I didn't celebrate as much as others did as Biden isn't the perfect candidate for America in my opinion, but he is the right candidate at the right time for this country. Translation: He isn't Donald J. Trump. And that's where I've been in this political space. 

Now, I already know many of you who read this blog and completed that last paragraph may have just exited this page. And that's okay - for now. Quite frankly, I haven't hid my feelings on my voting intentions and feelings as per a post from August (Voting in 2020 & Thoughts on 2020 Political Conventions) - which seem like forever ago. I proclaimed my voting selection a done deal, yet much like 2016, I wasn't crazy about either candidate.

It came down to this: Donald Trump had done too much to undo in order to earn my vote. 

But even with a Biden decision, I still felt like America is STILL at a crossroads in its history. Yes, the victory proclaimed so much about the American spirit and where it is headed. It felt like more of a celebration of avoidance, or dodging a repeat of history, that we seemed to be tumbling toward - MAGA, right?

It all felt like a restoration in the belief that the ideals - not the actual follow-through - of this nation that we all very much believe in, despite the gruesome history at the foundation, is still a viable reaching possibility. 

I thought about the people I observed randomly galavanting into the street in front of my car without a care of what the traffic light displayed as I drove through Brooklyn, NY. They were in the streets celebrating, honking horns, and dancing. I thought about my mom, who removed the American flag that once flew for years on our front porch citing, "it's tough to love a country that doesn't love you back", and how she called me with the eminence of relief more so than excitement upon the announcement. I thought about her friends, people of color, and various immigrants - some from those very countries the President called "shitholes", who were agonized daily by his presence, his words, and by his leadership. That this was the man they left home to be guided by, wore them down and diminished their love of country. 

I thought about the international students that I work with. Their constant fears of having their dreams ripped away from them due to the rhetoric coming out of the mouth of the leader of the free world. Or even worse, agonizing over the words in a random tweet that stared back at you in your gaze of disbelief. 

Just my honest opinion, I've never felt more un-American in my life than I have over the last four years. 

That Saturday felt like a shifting moment in history. It felt like a release. Who knows where we'll be four years from now? But, as of right now, the thought is - how could it not get better?

There were the many parents who carried my sympathetic strength, despite needing more, who had to answer the questions from children regarding the President's actions. I had a moment where I did the math myself - four years from now, my son would be 6, and I wouldn't have to engage in those difficult conversations I hear my friends and colleagues having with their children - why did they seperate those kids from their mommies and daddies?

I thought about my son's future. And how I wanted the President, at the very least, to display a minimal level of integrity and character that borders on decency. 

In many ways, the moment surpassed Barack Obama's election night for me, which still remains special for obvious reasons. That day unequivocally and shockingly, lifted many anxieties and frustrations.

However, finally, like many, I could unclench and exhale just a bit. 

NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT

I have to share some words about President Trump. Because quite frankly, it won't be the last. The guy is a lightning rod, and we would be foolish to think that he will just disappear. The media is also super obsessed with him - looking at you, CNN. 

I'm on the record via this very blog - I tried to give President Trump a chance. In 2017, I knew if he failed, we all would be in it very badly. I still feared exactly what "Make America Great Again" meant - taking a country backward. Not super comforting for any person of color. But again, I thought, let's see. 

But it was Charlottesville. And the tiki torches. And the sudden brave white men baring their faces for all to see as we were now in an era where hoods were no longer needed because the platform had arrived on a broader stage. Following a melee, and the death of Heather Heyer, our President stood at a podium before the country, clearly agitated and uncomfortable - as he always is on matters of race and equality - and proclaimed the following damning sentence: 

"There were fine people on both sides." 

I was done. 

He later walked back the statement in print news, as became his custom following all of his dog-whistling and inability to condemn white supremacist ideology. The tactic was clear, to appease those calling him racist, to assure those who support him that he isn't racist (look, he denounced it!), but of course, to keep it off of a national platform to endear and engage that base that does support him. 

I've heard the statement many times from Trump supporters - well, how many times is he supposed to denounce white supremacists before the media and liberals move on?

My response, and the correct answer: EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. 

Every. Time. 

Will you denounce white supremacy right now?

Yes, I denounce it. It's awful. Always. 

Boom. Next question. 

I'll give credit to President Trump for his deal on funding for HBCUs, continuing the growth of a burdening economy, and yes, contributing to the lowest unemployment we've seen within marginalized communities in years. He wasn't just Satan in a suit as President. However, come election time, it felt tiring to hear the same ol' hits when the "cons" piled up with dog-whistling, continued racist policies, and a complete shit show of an operation and leadership in regards to the Coronavirus. 

But while I'm bearing my soul on Trump, here is a quick list of other moments that pretty much pushed me to vote Biden whether I wanted to or not. 

  1. Charlottesville, Virginia
  2. "Stand Back and Standy" comment when asked to denounce Proud Boys during debate. 
  3. Clearing Protesters for Upside-down Bible Photo-Op
  4. Failure to Alert or Prepare Country when briefed on Coronavirus
  5. An all-white internship group. 
  6. Dividing and undermining of Country
  7. No transparent tax history - yes, any President with something to hide, a basic request, is super sketch. 

TRUMPISM IS HERE TO STAY 

So yes, Trump is on his way out, and who knows, we may see him again in 2024. Or my prediction, Donald Trump Jr. - yikes! However, the damage that was done by Trump will far outlasts his presidency. 

We're now in an age where disinformation and fact are based upon whether it aligns itself with your political beliefs. If not, it's fake news, babaayyy! 

But despite the election result, we still have 73M+ people in this country who STILL felt the need to punch their ticket for President Trump. The country is literally split. For me, it clearly expresses what Mick Foley won the internet with, that racism clearly isn't a deal-breaker for America. Shocking, but in surveying our national history, not out-of-the-order at all. 

And even as Trump files lawsuits and continues to disrespect the process of a country he claims he loves so much, the idea of Trump rallies, flags, hats, and overall ideology beyond his Presidency is scary.

It's now beyond political support, but in fact, a way of life. Trumpism embodies so much of what America has pepetuated as "Americana" and has given a socially acceptable platform for white supremacist groups to engage in. 

I wouldn't be surprised to see down the road on election day a ballot that reads choices of Democrat, Republican, and MAGA. It's why I worry for the GOP so much.

With that said, it is wrong to characterize Trump voters by the racist, pickup truck-spewing mobs that we see on our television screens or Twitter feeds. Unfortunately, we too often generalize (and sometimes project?) opposing thoughts and groups by their worst characteristic. I'm sure once again, there were many who voted based on fear, who voted based on economy, or the worst, who voted based on party. 

I would indeed love to have a civilized, thoughtful dialogue with a Trump voter from 2020. Voting Trump in 2016, I can completely understand the reasoning, and in many ways, could relate to the thinking. Voting Trump in 2020 really has me baffled. 

SO WHAT NOW, GOP? 

I'm actually quite ashamed of Republicans who have stood by this Presidency. The lack of courage on the part of many who didn't want to risk their relationship with President Trump in the event of a victory was maddening. And no, leaving the White House and suddenly releasing a tell-all book doesn't count. It's actually worse. 

But really, where do the Elephants go from here? 

Essentially, the backlash to Trumpism and Trump himself has awakened and educated a large sector of America that did not engage in the political process before. I myself know of multiple individuals who voted for the very first time in this election. As one person put it, "Nah, I have to vote in this one. Trump gotta go". And there are so many stories like that one out there. 

The country needs conservatism. I repeat, this country needs Republicans. Strong, courageous, honorable Republicans. I worry that the current party has positioned itself as anti-people of color in regards to the issues and optics of support (even more so than before), that the GOP could be in trouble in regards to recruiting in the coming generations. This will be very interesting to see who rises over the next few years for team red that doesn't bear a Trump last name. 

But please, no Ted Cruz. Anyone else...please. 

VOTER SUPPRESSION

Voter suppression has been systemic for decades. This year, we saw that hit another gear as the Trump campaign went to great levels to attempt to dissuade and prevent many areas from voting - predominantly people of color.

Removing mailboxes, filing sanctions to reduce voting sites, and attempting to delegitimize mail-in ballots were all out-in-the-open practices. 

"Stop the count!" Really?!!!

Cries of specific areas having votes that are "not legal"?

Not once did we hear about expanding opportunities to vote, or even making it easier for all to vote. You think the process is broken? Well, fix it! You're the President!

That was insanely troubling to see, and again, plays towards the narrative of the GOP's relationship with that of people of color and marginalized communities. 

Republicans HAVE to do better outreach for 2024. A MUST! 

BLACK WOMEN AND FIRST ROUND PICKS

The biggest story of this election is indeed black women. The true backbone of the Dems, black women came out strong in various areas to help swing some shocking and crucial states in favor of Joe Biden. In fact, Texas is dangerously close to becoming - gulp - blue! What in the world...

Black women deserve all of the props for their engagement and the Biden-Harris ticket better not forget it. They will be held to the fire now. 

Speaking of, shout out to Philadelphia and Atlanta. If I could, I would order all of your sports teams to be granted a compensatory first-round pick in next year's drafts. 

PS - Shout out to all of the first time voters. Please stay engaged.

FIRSTS, FIRSTS, FIRSTS

Kamala Harris carries so many firsts into the White House as the Vice-President-elect.

  • First woman
  • First woman of color
  • First black woman
  • First southeast asian woman
  • First multi-racial person of color
  • First descendant of the Caribbean (heyyyyy, my fam is proud!)
  • First President or Vice-President from an HBCU
Basically, Kamala Harris is EVERYTHING white conservative men fear - complexity. She is shattering the binary racial lens of black and white, while giving you a spin of womanhood. For so long our country focused on her as a black woman - which she is, but the underlying tones of representation are deep, complex, and so, so, so representatve and much more. 

This multi-racial American completely understands. 

The fear that the country is getting black and browner by the years, and yes, they're moving into your neighborhoods!! - now specifically, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, is the overwhelming driving force for much of what we see today. 

Kamala represents growth, inclusion, and possibilities. 

And finally...


DIVIDED STATES OF AMERICA

How we move forward is going to be interesting. I for one would love to keep the movement going forward for change and equality. Our nation is not ready for unificiation until there is a true reckoning and acknowledgment when it comes to our history, the issue and structure of race that is in place since our foundation, and how we truly progress by moving on. 

Until then, this isn't going to be easy. That's the truth. 

Many people are much more edcuated and engaged on their voices in the matter than ever before - regardless of where you stand - hence the record voting turnout. COVID unveiled the vast cracks in our systems and pulled the thin veil that disguised our democracy of including all. The biggest takeway from Trump's Presidency is that he awoken the underbelly of America - the true America. And again, we're not a product of him, as this has always been us, as Princeton University Professor, Eddie Glaude, so beautifully put it. 

This is us. 

Divided. 

A Biden Presidency will not be the kumbaya. The celebrations and the feel-good day was nice. So was the relief of moving on from Trump. But we're not there. Not even close. 

The coming fours years will continue to be tough - with difficult conversations, hard questions, and lots of pride, privelege, and truths coming to self-evluation for all within the country. But that's what we need. And what we're afraid of - the other side.  

Until then, we'll always have half the country celebrating, and the other half proclaiming what America has been to them. 

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