On Nov. 7, at 11:24 a.m. in Washington, D.C., the election for the president and vice president of the United States finally ended. We learned the will of the people, and it was named Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. This momentous announcement occurred even though the state of Georgia had yet to be called.
In the giddiness surrounding the day and our renewed hopes for the future, in the lifting of a weight from our shoulders that we did not even know we’d been carrying, we could easily forget that if we listened to the political pundits, democracy had barely prevailed and remained on life support.
How many of us went to sleep on election night certain of victory? (Despite spending the election on a Zoom with knowledgeable folks, I still didn’t relax until Michigan and Wisconsin shaded to light blue.) However you felt on the eve of what reporters, pundits, politicos and regular people all agreed was “the most important election of our lifetime,” by the following day, results were clear. Biden was heading to the White House. But because of Democrats’ failure to take the Senate, that victory wasn’t quite good enough, as the selection of headlines from Nov. 4 (below) makes clear.
Articles from Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, and Nature, Nov. 4, 2020
As the states continued to count, day by day we saw the extent of the voters’ wishes. Americans had clearly rejected Trump but these two headlines from Nov. 12 (below) demonstrate reporters’ inability to see this contest between Biden and Trump as anything but regular politics at play. Too many figures in the media continued to spew forth a damaging mischaracterization of what happened in the United States and what the voters had stated.
Articles from Forbes and The Washington Post, originally published Nov. 12, 2020.
Damaging because, in politics, mandates matter.
Finally, on Nov. 13, Georgia, the final holdout to the electoral vote count, was called for the Democrats. While Biden-Harris did not need these 16 electoral votes to assure victory, Georgia’s shift blue meant that the ticket had achieved the exact same numerical victory over Donald Trump — 306 to 232 — as he had achieved over Hillary Clinton in 2016, or, according to Trump, a “landslide.”
Yet, Democrats are denied the similar exalted framing we deserve. Worse, the media claims we scored a defeat within victory because we did not take the Senate (though we have our chance in Georgia’s runoff races in January) and we lost representatives in Congress (but we still control the House). While this attitude reflects real concern about what the Biden administration will be able to accomplish if the GOP remains in control of the Senate, the media holds a fair share of the blame. Just as they now are hedging at calling out Trump’s abnormal behavior in refusing to concede, they are still attempting to force the 2020 election into a normal political framework. But anyone who lived in America 2020 knows that “normal” does not apply.
Here’s what the media should be saying. In the midst of the raging and rising COVID-19 pandemic, more than 79 million American voters cast a ballot for Biden and Harris. The Democratic ticket earned the vote of 5.8 million more Americans than Trump did, or 3.8% of the electorate, and flipped four states that had voted for Trump in 2016. This election was not close. Our victory was only possible due to the collective effort of campaign staff and grassroots organizers and activists. Their work led to the huge turnout of Black voters in Georgia and thousands of Navajo Nation voters in Arizona; both states turned blue for the first time since 1996.
Democratic voters used their vote as their voice to demand a change from the past four years of chaos, confusion and horror. Americans voted to embrace a better future. For a government concerned with people’s economic well-being and health. For a country that is a place of liberty and justice for all, despite our background or the color of our skin.
As we move forward under a Biden-Harris administration, our leaders will have our backs. They will fight so we have clean water to drink and clean air to breathe, earn enough money to support our families, obtain health care without going bankrupt and so much more. We voted for a better life for ourselves and the people we love.
This historic vote is why millions of Americans around the country took to the streets, dancing and singing, in a public outpouring of joy. Grassroots groups turned preemptively planned protests into celebrations, brandishing noisemakers and urging cars to honk. Still other Americans celebrated privately, with champagne glasses raised with friends and neighbors in socially distant toasts.
In the end, despite rampant GOP efforts to keep people from voting, including deliberate U.S. Postal Service slowdowns and last-minute court rulings reversing voting rights, we showed up. We voted. Democracy did not save us, but the country has a democratic outcome because the will of the people demanded new leadership. We the people won. And that’s something to celebrate.
DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.