And out of nowhere, Pennsylvania sealed the deal. It was the sigh of relief heard ‘round the world. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have just won their campaign, ending the Trump presidency. Over the last few days, the country has been buzzing with anxiety across the ideological spectrum. As it turned out, listening to Harry Styles read me to sleep on the Calm app with my Canadian passport in hand was no longer enough to mute out the turmoil of American politics.

How it Happened

There’s no season like autumn to binge eat apple pie and sit in dead silence with your family as the poll results trickle in. If you’re like me, this election was far too close for comfort. It was clear from the beginning that swing states would decide this election. Early results speculators named thirteen states as the battleground states to watch, with an emphasis on Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia.

Yet, with all three of those states leaning red pretty early into the count, America’s eyes began to shift to the North and to the West. In the end, it was the essential flipping of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona (decided as a Biden state early on by the Associated Press) that secured Biden an early lead. One of the biggest flips for Biden was Arizona, a state that has been red for every presidential election since 1952 with the exception of 1996. So, why did this historically red state flip? It is partially thanks to Arizona’s changing demographics, with more young people (particularly from California) moving to the state and more Latinx people registering to vote.

From late election night through the morning of November 7th, we’ve been in political limbo as the votes were slowly counted. The country had its eyes on Nevada, waiting for the state to turn blue and give Biden the six electoral votes he needs to secure the presidency. However, while the country had its eyes west, Biden was slowly closing the gap in the polls in Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Wins it All

We all love a come-back! Just as news stations were gearing up for a long weekend of uncertainty, Pennsylvania came through. In the end, it was Pennsylvania turning blue that won Biden the presidency. I like to imagine Trump on the greens of the Trump National Golf Club, hearing the news that it was Joe Biden’s home state that locked down the victory.

By an enormous amount, it was Black voters, specifically Black women, who secured both Pennsylvania for Biden. Over 92% of Black votes were Democratic. That, coupled with the large Latinx turnout, made the difference.

So why was the state leaning red for the last week? The delay in Democratic votes counted in Pennsylvania can be attributed to the large number of Democrats voting by mail. Democrats sent in nearly three times the amount of mail in ballots as Republicans. Most likely due to Trump’s discouraging of the mail-in ballot system. So tip your hat to USPS workers and send a letter to your grandma because snail mail is most definitely back in fashion.

The Comeback in Georgia & Stacey Abrams

In Georgia, Black women made up 18% of the voting demographic, with over 91% of those votes leaning blue. Yet, it was one woman in particular who turned the tides in Georgia. Stacey Abrams, former state legislator, took a break from being a badass lawyer with a Yale Law degree to save Democracy. No big deal. In 2019, she founded a voter registration nonprofit called the New Georgia Project, with the intent of attacking racially motivated voter suppression. In the 2020 election, she registered over 86,000 new voter applications.

Biden’s Platform

Here’s a quick-list of Biden’s platform and what that means for the next four years. Joe Biden’s campaign centered around these six concepts:

  1. A COVID-19 Recovery Plan-  with an emphasis on free, accessible testing and providing consistent, evidence-based national guidance.
  2. An Economic Recovery Plan- with an emphasis on raising the minimum wage and reversing Trump tax cuts to large corporations.
  3. Affordable Health Care- with an emphasis on giving every American access to affordable and quality health insurance.
  4. Fight Systemic Racism- with an emphasis on criminal justice reform and grants for minority communities.
  5. Fight Climate Change- with an emphasis on rejoining the global climate accord and investing in green energy.
  6. Empower and Protect Women- with an emphasis on ending violence against women and provided equal pay and employment opportunities. If you’d like to read in detail about Joe Biden’s advocacy for women’s rights, check out this Outspoken article by Alicia Briggs.

Why it Matters

This election has secured the biggest voter turnout since 1900. With it, Joe Biden has officially broken the record for most votes ever received in a presidential election. The election was particularly important for American minority and disenfranchised groups. From Trump’s mockery of disabled people to his unapologetic sexism to his refusal to denounce white supremacist groups, Trump has a legacy of encouraging hate and targeting the vulnerable of our society. Across the country, many voters felt as though they weren’t just voting for a president but rather they were voting to protect essential human rights- rights that should absolutely never be determined by a government (right to water, right to agency over one’s own body, right to safety, right to love, right to life).

Democracy as an ideological concept is a government for everyone. Yet, the United States of America was never a pure democracy because, for the first two hundred years of its operation, the rights and freedoms protected in the Constitution did not include everyone. “We the people” didn’t include women, people of color, LGBTQA+ people, people with disabilities, people outside the gender binary, or immigrants. The truth of the matter is the United States is far from achieving true democracy.

Joe Biden is not perfect or revolutionary. He still fits the hegemonic model of a president and, in many ways, he has contributed to three decades of mass incarceration. However, in a time where politics hopes for the lesser of two evils, he is certainly spreading less hatred than the current president. So that’s a start.

Vice President Kamala Harris

In brighter news, Kamala Harris has just made history in more ways than one. Not only is she the first female vice president, she is also the first African-American and first Asian-American vice president in the history of the United States.

Kamala Harris’s personal motto comes from her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris: “You may be the first, but make sure you’re not the last.” Thanks to Kamala, a world of possibility has now been opened for young girls and people of color. One thing is true, she will be the first but most definitely not the last. For more on Kamala Harris’s rise to political prowess, check out Amanda Davis’s Outspoken article.

A Warning

The election may be won, but the battle is far from over. In his election day speech, President Trump vocalized an alarming call for election fraudulence and claimed he will take the election to the Supreme Court. This did not come as a surprise. In fact, Trump has been setting the foundation for this claim for months, as seen in this list of times Trump has said he will refuse to leave office.

All of this sounds very scary, but I’d like to add a little sugar on top of this speed bump. This nation is founded on a system of checks and balances to ensure that no one person gains too much power. The people have spoken and they’ve elected a new president. Trust in the democratic process and remain hopeful. Thank you for showing up to the polls. Your voice matters, and it made all the difference.

Emily Powers, Content Creator

Photograph By: Eric Baradat via Getty Images

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