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I heard on the radio last week that over £170 million had already been bet in the UK on the US election. Our screens blazed with stars and stripes as each channel circulated the same results we had heard an hour ago. Each refresh of a social media screen promised news yet returned the same result: anticipation. Even the radio seemed to be running on repeat.
The British obsession with the presidential race is the equivalent of the teacup touting American outside Buckingham Palace. We remain fascinated by the process that involves announcements of intentions, campaign trails, conventions, nominations and the Election Day that won’t see a new president minted until the following January. This year, as with everything that 2020 has brought, the race has been unprecedented. Not only did Donald Trump claim that he had won before all the votes had been counted, but he then tried to demand that the Supreme Court intervene by stopping the count of postal votes. This type of vote has been received in record numbers this year due to the combined reasons of Coronavirus and at least 20% reduction in physical polling locations since 2016, especially in areas of predominately Black, Brown and Latinx population.
Therefore, the world sighed with relief when the news finally came that the US’ President-elect was Joe Biden. Alongside this, a major triumph of this year was Kamala Harris nominated not only by Joe Biden as a running mate for Vice President but being elected to the position, making history as the first Asian American, first African American and third female running mate for a major party. In terms of influential women, we have also seen the re-election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for New York, who, whilst being the youngest woman to have served in United States Congress, ruptured the entire status quo of American politics with drive, integrity and a vision for a better America. Ocasio-Cortez is also known for being part of ‘The Squad’, four Black, Brown and Latinx women that shook up congress, even during the Trump presidency. The members, other than AOC, include the first two Muslim women in US Congress, Ilhan Omar, who won re-election for 2020 in Minneapolis, and Rashida Tlaib, who also succeeded to a second term in Michigan. Last, but by no means least, Ayanna Pressley won re-election, continuing her term as the first Black woman elected to Congress for Massachusetts. The Democrats’ winners have become further diversified this year with Jamaal Bowman winning New York’s 16th district, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia re-elected for Illinois 4th district, and Terri Sewell of Alabama’s 7th district being their first Black woman elected to Congress, to name just a few.
Despite these results, the battle between the two sides remained tense throughout.
Georgia was one of the last states to announce and historically has been Republican-held, yet Biden claimed victory with a 0.2% lead. Georgia’s large population of Black Americans have lived through the rise of accepted racism, the tragedy of George Floyd’s death, the outrageous voter intimidation tactics and the arduous waits outside of polling stations in an attempt to suppress voting; they were voting to save their lives. Yet amid, or perhaps due to, all of these obstacles, voter turnout has been the highest in the US since 1900. Even more impressively, Biden has won more overall votes than any other presidential candidate in US history.
The timescale of the race increased drastically daily, especially when Trump demanded recounts in Wisconsin where he was not winning. Although his numbers went up by around 130 votes in the past election during a recount, the required margin was that of around 20,000, which was perhaps a little unfeasible. Additionally, as Biden crept closer to the finish line, the Trump administration planned to place roadblocks of legal action in key states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. For spectators all around the world, the race still appeared to be two steps forward, one step back.
So, with the Biden-Harris team as confirmed winners with 290 votes to Mr Trump’s 214, what can we expect to see? Primarily, the Democrat administration has already begun work on the Coronavirus pandemic, building a team of scientific minds to decide on how to best combat the pandemic in what they are terming an ‘action blueprint’. In their first Tweet as the Biden transition team, they wrote: “We stand together as one America. We will rise stronger than we were before.”
Whilst President Biden and Vice-President Harris work on saving their country, the world also bore witness to Trump’s ‘magnanimity’ in his refusal to concede- even whilst playing a round of golf. In all capital letters, a Tweet was sent out announcing: “I WON THE ELECTION, GOT 71,000,000 LEGAL VOTES.’ This was almost immediately flagged by the Twitter platform for misinformation. Let’s hope he didn’t lose his round of golf too! He still has 72 days left of presidency, during which he has very little that he can do, but worries are circulating that he may use this time to play upon international tensions, or at least make Biden’s time in office as difficult as possible. The other rumour that has been leaked today are possible plans of a Melania Trump’s weight loss – 320lbs of dead weight, as she initiates divorce proceedings. Over the next few weeks, some more fireworks can be expected from the Trump collective, but for now, let us congratulate Biden and Harris and look forward to the future of us and the US.
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