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Op-Ed: Why Were the 2020 Election Results So Close?

Op-Ed: Why Were the 2020 Election Results So Close?

After a nail-biting three days, Joe Biden has surpassed the needed 270 electoral votes by flipping the swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. In a surprise turnout, Georgia might even flip to a blue state, the first time since 1992, which is no small feat considering the incredible amount of voter suppression of Black voters in Georgia. Trump being voted out is likely to be a positive, especially if Biden fulfills his promises to curb coronavirus cases as well as delivering on issues like healthcare and climate change.

A Rollercoaster Of Events

Before election night, a series of articles were written in the news about how Joe Biden was leading in the polls over Donald Trump by ten points nationally, which made many expect a huge landslide victory. In some sense, this did happen as Joe Biden now has the most popular votes in United States history with a whopping 74.5 million as of writing. But as many of us know from watching election night, this was not a landslide victory in favor of Biden.

At one point, it even looked like he would lose to Trump. Biden may have surpassed Barrack Obama’s vote numbers, but so did Donald Trump with 70.3 million votes as of writing, almost one million more votes than Obama received in 2008. In spite of the chaos, multiplicity, sheer mismanagement and, at times, fascism, displayed by the Trump administration, a significant number of Americans still voted for the sitting president.

Why?

A really simple takeaway is that America is racist. However, while it is tempting to call all Trump supporters racist and while racism is certainly an element of his ever-shifting platform, this simplifies the complex beliefs and ideologies of those who vote for Trump. In fact, Donald Trump had increased support from Latinx and Black voters this election. Trump preformed better with these demographics than Mitt Romney did in 2012, even though Trump Infamously kicked off his campaign in 2016 insulting these people with slurs. These were slim increases year by year in these communities voting for Trump, however, I think this counterintuitive information reveals to us that there is something deeper going on that applies broadly to all Americans. All these intricacies cannot be expressed in one article, but we can draw some broad conclusions.

Firstly, while Biden presents a reasonable alternative, he is not a strong candidate in his own right. As discussed in a pervious article, Biden has spent the majority of his time in public office resisting anything that produces a decent life for Americans. He has fought for four decades to privatize social security and undermine the welfare system, but the atrocious stances of Joe Biden do not end there. He helped draft the 1994 Crime Bill that created the mass incarceration we see today, going so far as to say about the incarcerated in 1993:

“It doesn’t matter if they are the victims of society. The end result is they’re about to knock my mother on the head with a lead pipe, shoot my sister, beat up my wife, take on my sons. So I don’t want to ask what made them do this. They must be taken off the streets.”

There is an entire book about Biden’s less than savory record, but some of the major highlights of his career include supporting the Iraq War, silencing Anita Hill, and anti-desegregation measures (anti-federal busing initiatives) to name only a few. Not only is he not a progressive, he’s barely a liberal, which is the main problem with Biden. If we wanted a candidate to offer an alternative to the bigotry and cruelness of Donald Trump, Joe Biden struggles to foot that bill, though he is far from the only Democrat with empty promises.

Kamala Harris, the Vice President-Elect, is often portrayed in the media as the progressive in the future administration. While Harris has achieved something great as the first woman of color to reach the Vice Presidency, the hope is that she can push Joe Biden to the left on important issues. But if we are to hold her accountable to her own progressive credentials, we start to notice she is not the champion many wish her to be. Harris started out her career in 2004 as the District Attorney for San Francisco where she advocated heavily against the death penalty. This, along with other criminal reform measures, her fight against corporate maliciousness, and additional solid reforms, demonstrated a strong progressive track record. Until it wasn’t.

When she was later Attorney General of California, she never ended the death penalty, instead she spend the rest of her career defending it. Harris helped sponsor a bill the would increase the ability of police to seize forfeitures, exacerbating the problem of the carceral state. In 2019 when she was running for president of the United States, she was well known for flip-flopping on Medicare-for-all when it proved politically inconvenient. Additionally, she has opposed the decriminalization of sex work in the past and advocated for harmful measures such as SESTA/FOSTA, which have caused immeasurable damage to the sex-work and trans communities. She also supported a state ruling that denied a trans woman gender-affirming healthcare.

Kamala Harris’s record is complicated, but a generous assessment of her time as a public official left a lot to be desired. This does not make her unique amongst a party of politicians who are too milquetoast to pursue real fixes, but now that she holds the second highest office in America, she can’t stay a blue rubber stamp.

Ultimately, it is this inability to take on systemic problems that adds so much fuel to the Trump fire. Currently millions of Americans are being plunged into poverty as the social safety net has been completely eroded by Democrats like Joe Biden. Hardline progressive policies like Medicare-For-All and the Green New Deal prove to be immensely popular with the later policy in being called “As popular as legalizing weed.” The ironic thing about these proposals being “too left wing” is that both of them have immense bipartisan support amongst Republicans and Democrats. In a crisis that has killed over 230,000 Americans and continues to decimate their livelihoods, people want to know how they are going to survive each month without starving. Donald Trump tapped into this sentiment and even though his actions have been the complete opposite, it sheds light on the economic justice people want in their lives.

The Democratic party cannot continue to ignore the interests of the very people it is supposed to represent, namely, the working class. According to Noam Chomsky, “The Democrats abandoned the working-class decades ago. Republicans may take a populist line, but they are much more opposed to working people than even the Democrats in policies.” The rise of Trump has as much to do with the elitism and language of the Democratic party as racism, nationalism, and population. This election should have been a landslide in favor of the democrats, the fact that it was not is a sign of the work that needs to be done.

We have four years of a Democratic administration and there is no more room for failure.