Biden’s Victory: How has America Responded?

This article is part of an ongoing co-operation with the Boston Political Review and can be found on both platforms.

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Biden's Election: How has America Responded?

Roar writer Justine Noble on President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the United States, and how voters have been reacting to the news.

For four days voters in the United States clung to their collective seats alongside the rest of the world as they faced one of the most controversial elections in the country’s history. As crucial votes from swing states rolled in slowly, it became evident just how neck-and-neck the race to sit in the Oval Office for the next four years would be. With tensions rising in a divided nation, American retailers boarded up windows and increased security measures to prepare for the civil unrest that seemed likely regardless of who made it first past the polls. Indeed, the results of this dichotomous election would either leave Americans blissful or bereaved – and former Vice President Joe Biden’s projected win on November 7 eliciting a wide variety of responses.

Immediately following Biden’s win, his supporters took to the streets. Everywhere from New York City to Philadelphia, Chicago to Los Angeles, Houston to Washington D.C., masked crowds gathered to cheer, chant, clap, march, play musical instruments, dance, honk their car horns, ring bells, bang on pots and pans, and light fireworks to celebrate his win together long into the night. While some ensured the words “we won” could be heard far and wide, others shed silent tears of joy. In Delaware, more than 1,000 supporters gathered at a drive-in rally where Biden delivered a passionate speech about bringing Americans together.

A popular response coming from Biden’s supporters was the expression of hope for and faith in America. When a woman cheering in the streets of Virginia was asked by Sky News for her thoughts on the win, she responded: “we can finally, finally, begin to be great again, and take our place in the world” as a nation others can look up to. Additionally interviewed by the outlet was a young black mother with two children in Washington who stated the election showed there is still “some faith and dignity in the soul of this nation”. She went on to say: “There has been a lot of hate and things we’ve accepted that we should have never accepted in this country, so I want the love to come back – I want to see that change”.

For many, these expressions of optimism towards the future were laden with emotion. CNN’s Van Jones broke down in tears on air after explaining: “Well, it’s easier to be a parent this morning. It’s easier to be a dad. It’s easier to tell your kids character matters. It matters. Telling the truth matters. Being a good person matters”.

Many of Biden’s supporters saw hope particularly in the election of Vice Presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris, the first woman as well as person of color to be elected as Vice President. Throughout the country, people repeated one slogan: “Make sure to wear shoes ladies. There’s glass everywhere”.

Biden’s supporters were not the only Americans taking to the streets. In many state capitols, Trump’s supporters emerged to express their disapproval of the election’s results. Although these gatherings were hushed in contrast to those celebrating Biden’s win, they were no less laden with emotion. In Phoenix, Arizona, for instance, Trump’s supporters expressed extreme anger and frustration, wielding firearms and chanting phrases such as “Trump won” and “We will win in court”. In Lansing, Michigan, which like Arizona was a key swing state in this election, chants of “this is not over” and “we will be here forever” echoed throughout the city.

Trump supporters additionally addressed those taking to the streets in favour of Biden. In one video, a man holding up a Trump campaign sign can be seen shouting at ecstatic Democrats: “Voter fraud. You committed voter fraud. Democrats suck. Cheaters, cheaters”. Trump supporters expressed signs of large-scale denial, attacking the media and insisting that the projection for Biden’s win had been falsely declared.

However, those holding guns in front of their state capitols are not representative of all the voters left disappointed in the aftermath of this election. Many members of Trump’s deeply loyal fan base are grappling with emotions such as grief and shock after months with no doubt their favoured candidate would win.

Trump supporters have also pointed to what they cite as the hypocrisy of America’s Democrats attending large rallies after condemning Trump supporters for doing so while the two candidates were campaigning. As a result, many Trump supporters are reluctant to partake in Biden’s pleas to unite as a country, with one Nevada school-teacher telling the Associated Press: “I’m really not in a live and let live mood”. Many are also in favour of Trump’s promised legal proceedings, which he strongly believes will challenge the legitimacy of the election. 

We have to remember, though, that the divide between Democrats and Republicans is not only taking place on a national scale, but on a state level as well. Democrats in states which called for Trump, such as Florida, are left contending with the party’s increasingly poor performance. While Democrats in the state are happily awaiting Biden’s ascension to the presidency, State House election results have caused extreme disappointment. After anticipating gains, the party faced losing five House seats alongside the failure of three Senate candidates and two incumbent US Representatives. On top of this, Floridian Democrats have to tackle the fact that Trump tripled his 2016 margin in the state, thus largely divesting it of its swing-state status.

Right now, devoted Democrats in states like Florida will spend time assessing what went wrong for them. Former State Representative Sean Shaw explaining to Politico that “Everything went wrong. We have turnout problems, coalitions problems, it’s up and down the board. It’s not one thing that went wrong”. It is likely that worries concerning the party’s state-level performance will not decrease over the next four years; the many Republicans now overseeing statehouses will participate in “political redistricting”, the process of drawing electoral district boundaries, and will likely be able to draw maps that will boost the performance of their states and federal candidates for many years to come. 

Similarly, Republicans feel they have much work to do in swing states that went blue this election, such as Michigan. In the words of Brian Boonstra, a Republican voter from Michigan, “Our hope was that we would turn this state red and keep it there. To do that, I think we need to continue to work hard in minority communities and talk to them about what we believe and why. I think that while the message we have as conservatives along with those programs the president has initiated will do a lot to strengthen our numbers with minorities”. In addition to countering the isolation of minority groups from the Republican Party, Boonstra indicated moves away from “fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets” may further be hindering their success. 

It is likely that, in response to Biden’s election, we will continue to see a wide variety of responses throughout the US – energetic expressions of emotion contrasting with peaceful plans for progress. It is evident that if those who voted for Biden in this election are ever to see eye to eye, crucial conversations will have to take place, as we witness what seems to be dichotomy’s never-ending expansion in America.

Further articles written in collaboration with the Boston Political Review can be found on our website.

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