This year’s vote was marked by a record-breaking turnout, a divided population, and a worldwide pandemic – in January, the focus will shift to holding Joe Biden’s administration accountable
In this year’s US presidential election, a record number of people – almost 160 million – turned out to vote. When it ended with a victory for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, there was a palpable sense of relief both online and IRL across the world. Looking back on the election though, the view is more complex.
Donald Trump still refuses to formally concede despite losing the November 3 vote, maintaining claims of voting fraud. This message has been picked up by his base of supporters too, who travelled across the country last week for a Washington DC event branded the “Million MAGA March”, which saw far-right figures and conspiracy theorists join in calls for “four more years”.
As in 2016, Trump also outperformed pre-election polls in 2020. The outgoing president attracted over 70 million votes despite spending the last four years ignoring climate change, refusing to explicitly condemn far-right groups such as the Proud Boys, rolling back vital trans rights, mishandling coronavirus, and attempting to undermine the democratic process.
“I’m so glad that this is over, but I’m also really sad that it happened,” says Adam Eli, a New York-based writer and community organizer, in Dazed’s short film capturing the mood in the wake of the election (watch below). “The fact that it was so close is so devastating. It’s just so depressing that we had four years of people being able to see who Trump really is, and still 70 million people voted for him.”
Trump’s stoking of divisions in the US population and slack approach to fringe political groups ahead of the election also made voting a very different experience for many marginalised groups. “I felt very nervous and apprehensive going into Election Day,” says Keiajah ‘KJ’ Brooks, a community organiser whose scathing takedown of Kansas City police went viral in late October. “I was just sure that the Trump administration would try to invigorate his supporters to violence against Black and brown people, and really against everyone in America for not electing him again.”
DJ Freedem, a recipient of the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund, adds: “I was not surprised by how divided America was during the election, and how divided America will continue to be – because as long as hate exists in people’s hearts, there will always be division.”
Looking forward to a Democratic administration, there’s still a feeling of responsibility to continue pushing for change, whether that relates to the environment, or LGBTQ+ causes, or the Black Lives Matter movement. “What we have to do is ensure that we hold the Biden-Harris administration accountable,” says Eli.
BLM activist Shayla Turner calls for a more direct approach that includes reallocating “the asinine amount of money” that funds policing “to libraries, to schools and education, daycares, public transportation, mental health services, medical care, housing, and clean air. These are basic human rights that should not be up for grabs.”
“Keep the faith, keep grassroots organising, keep being activists, keep pushing for social justice change,” adds Brooks. ”Because we’re slowly, but surely on the horizon.”
Watch the full reflections on post-election America in the video below.