Alright everyone, get out your champagne flutes, pop those bottles, and pour some OJ, because we are going back to brunch, baby! America is ridin’ with Biden! The man, the myth, the neoliberal legend Joseph Robinette Biden is the President-Elect, which inevitably means that we can return to “normal.” MSNBC pundits can go back to bullying The Left, middle-class liberals can go back to ignoring politics altogether, and Sarah Cooper can go back to…wait…um, what is Sarah Cooper gonna do now that there’s no more Bad Orange Man for her to impersonate in her cringe TikToks?
Strap in friends because I am abandoning civility today, instead, I am going to spend this entire post indulging in the complete insanity that has been the 2020 election. Y’all ready? Here we go!
Staying true to the overarching theme of 2020 (Insanity and Despair), “Election Day” was not so much Election Day as it was “Election Week.” Bernie Sanders (may he rest in peace) actually gave a spot-on prediction of the entire dragged-out process in a recent Jimmy Fallon appearance, explaining that the results would not be finalized on Election Night due to this year’s unprecedented number of mail-in ballots. Sanders explained that mail-in ballots would take longer than one day to count, and this would likely skew the initial results (which is exactly how it played out). The large number of mail-in ballots, of course, is due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has been hurtling forward at full-speed ahead with record-breaking numbers of new cases during Election Week. From the beginning, Trump lambasted the use of mail-in ballots, despite the fact that they are a perfectly legal method of voting that he himself used in his home state of Florida.
The country spent the week on razor’s edge as Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and North Carolina counted their mail-in ballots agonizingly slow. Most of these swing states initially showed Trump in the lead before eventually flipping to Biden, because of the political phenomenon of Republicans tending to vote in-person and Democrats typically voting by mail. As the results inched forward and more and more mail-in ballots were counted, the lead shifted from Trump to Biden. Naturally, Trump threw a fit on Twitter and spread false claims that he had won the election “BY A LOT!”
The GOP, for their part, orchestrated this chaos from the very beginning, using various shady legal maneuvers in key swing states to delay the counting of mail-in ballots. While states such as California and Texas began counting mail-in ballots as early as two weeks before the election, GOP-championed legal efforts prevented states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin from beginning their count of mail-in ballots until Election Day. This gave the Trump campaign plenty of extra time to decry the mail-in voting process as fraudulent and accuse the Biden campaign of “stealing” the election, which was a completely baseless accusation.
And that brings us to our next exquisite display of American political theater: Trump supporters literally protesting democracy, demanding that elections commissions in various states “Stop the Count” of perfectly legal votes. They forgot, of course, that had the count been “stopped” on Wednesday or Thursday evening, Biden would have won anyway because he was ahead in Arizona and Nevada, the two states he needed to win. But nevermind that, Trump supporters have made it evidently clear over the past four years that facts and logic are entirely irrelevant to them, they will do whatever Dear Leader instructs them to do.
If there’s one thing that’s for sure, Trumpism is not disappearing from the American political landscape anytime soon, a fact I’m sure the Democrats will fail to reckon with over the next four years. Over 71 million people voted for a racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic leader with authoritarian tendencies who still refuses to concede the election, and that is a major cause for concern that Joe Biden seems unprepared to deal with. “Cult 45,” as Mariame Kaba calls them, is here to stay.
The Electoral College
I really can’t afford to give much time to the topic of the Electoral College other than to say it obviously needs to be abolished. It’s pretty insane that receiving the most votes out of any president in American history doesn’t automatically win you the presidency, and it’s even more insane that we still elect our Presidents based on a points system that was implemented to preserve the institution of slavery. Maybe, just maybe, a bunch of white slave owners from 1776 did not come up with The Best System of Government Ever, and perhaps we should consider amending the 244-year-old document that still governs us in the Year of Our Lord 2020. Moving on…
What The Democrats Learned From 2016
Nothing. The Democrats learned absolutely nothing from the 2016 election. After the progressive wave of 2018, a year of a pandemic and mass unemployment, and a summer of anti-police brutality demonstrations, they ran Hillary Clinton 2.0 as their candidate. In fact, I truly believe that Trump would’ve easily won re-election had his administration not completely fumbled the pandemic response.
Now let’s talk about the Senate. Joe Biden won, yes, but is he going to be able to do anything these next four years? No, because ringleader Mitch McConnell and his circus of bloodsucking goblins have already pledged that they will do everything in their power to stop every single Democratic policy from being passed. (There’s still a slim chance of a 50-50 Senate, depending on the results of the Georgia Senate runoff, but in my opinion, it’s a longshot). The Democrats put every ounce of their time, money, and energy behind a presidential candidate whose entire platform was “I’m Not Trump,” and in the process, they forgot that they actually need to control the legislature if they want to accomplish anything.
Dems poured a whopping $90 million into Amy McGrath’s doomed Senate campaign in Kentucky, instead of supporting the more progressive Charles Booker (who likely could’ve mobilized working-class voters of color). Many prominent Democratic donors gave an embarrassingly large amount of money to The Lincoln Project, a group of Republican think-tank ghouls who used that donation money to line their own pockets and then posted some half-assed anti-Trump memes on Twitter. I really have to applaud the Democrats’ brilliant political strategy on this one.
Not only did the Democrats not win the Senate, but they lost seats in the House (although they still maintain control). Not even a full five minutes after this happened, MSNBC pundits and the DNC leadership started blaming…*checks notes*…progressives. John Kasich, the centrist Republican from Ohio, said in an interview that “The Far Left…nearly cost Biden the election.” This couldn’t be further from the truth: Black leftist organizers in Georgia delivered the win for Biden. “The Squad” members AOC, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley all won their re-elections in a landslide and increased their win margins by almost 40%. Every single Democrat who lost their seat opposed Medicare for All, and nearly all Democrats who supported Medicare for All won their elections. With such obvious success from progressive candidates and policies, why are the Democrats taking advice from a Republican who couldn’t even deliver Ohio for Biden?!
No matter how hard the centrist establishment tries to deny it, progressive policies are the future, and they’re winning across the country, even in red states. The Democrats would do well to heed the words and advice of their colleague Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who called out her centrist colleagues in this brilliant interview.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Let’s talk about the winners and losers of Election Day because there are many across the aisle.
Oregon decriminalized all hard drugs, including cocaine, ecstasy, and heroin. Rather than sending drug users to prison (which does nothing to help them and further perpetuates the cycle of drug abuse), they will have the option of paying a fine or enrolling in a drug treatment program. Oregon will be widely expanding its drug treatment programs, which will be funded by tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales.
New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota legalized marijuana, which will prevent Black and brown Americans from being harshly punished by the legal system for smoking some weed.
Sarah McBride, the first openly transgender state senator in the country, was elected to the Delaware state legislature.
Doug Jones, a Democrat, lost his Senate seat in Alabama. We knew that would be a tough one to keep, but every seat matters when vying for Senate control.
California ballot measures had a rough night (more on that below), but Californians noticeably refused to pass rent control (in the most expensive housing market in the country…?), refused to tax big corporations to fund education, and refused to reinstate affirmative action admissions policies. A win for neoliberalism, I guess?
Nancy Pelosi (or as I like to call her, The Wicked Witch of the West) got re-elected. Disappointed, but not surprised.
The Ugliest One of Them All:
Uber, Lyft, and Doordash spent a record-breaking $200 million on ads for Prop 22—and their deceptive marketing worked. It wasn’t even close, Prop 22 passed with an almost 60% majority. This is a massive win for tech companies, who have now proven that they have the sole power to bend labor laws to their will because they have the money to spend on it. Let me reiterate: Allowing tech companies to write their own regulations into law is unbelievably damaging to workers’ rights. And they have no intentions to stop in California—their vision is to take Prop 22 to the federal level and enshrine their exploitative labor policies into federal law. Through the passing of Prop 22, Uber & Co.’s true nature has been laid bare: They cannot remain profitable if they do not exploit the labor of the working class. They would rather spend $200 million on campaign ads than using that $200 million to give their workers benefits. I cannot overstate what horrendous precedent this sets for labor law on both state and federal levels, and I would highly recommend you read more about this dangerous outcome here.
In the words of one of my favorite podcasters Brace Belden (shoutout TrueAnon Pod), “Now that Biden’s going to win we begin the hard work of ineffectually quote tweeting him as he appoints Travis Kalanick as Secretary of Labor and organizing 40 person protests that no one attends of cares about because you told them to vote for Joe Biden six months before.”
In all seriousness though, let me say that I am happy that Trump is out of office. I believe that Trump’s loss is something to celebrate. But as soon as I remember who is going to replace him, I honestly feel a bit nauseous. Joe Biden was deeply involved in creating so many policies that irreparably harmed millions of people—congressional support for the Iraq War, the deregulation of banks and Wall Street firms that led to the 2008 financial crisis, and the crime bills of the 1990s, just to name a few. These policies are not “problematic” or “mistakes that he’s apologized for,” or whatever excuses liberals come up with. What is “problematic” is ignoring the very real human cost of Biden’s political record and celebrating his win as some sort of “victory” for marginalized people. It’s not.
As for me, I’m not going back to brunch. I mean, I do love bottomless mimosas, but I am not going to “chill out” now that Biden is president. People are still suffering, and they will continue to suffer regardless of whether a Democrat or a Republican is in office. Unfortunately, marginalized people in this country don’t have a political party that represents them. I know I sound like a broken record constantly criticizing the Democrats, but I genuinely believe that if you want to fight for justice, you have to know who your real enemies are. You can’t move forward if you refuse to acknowledge who is standing in your way.
I do believe in political organizing and mobilizing voters to support progressive candidates, but I also know that voting alone will not lead to liberation, especially when there are so few candidates who serve the interests of working people over the interests of transnational corporations. We cannot elect people and then sit on our hands while we wait and hope that they will bring change to our communities. It is our responsibility to do more than just cast a vote, and step out into our communities and participate in direct action. Now more than ever we need people organizing workers on a united front, joining racial justice organizations, politically educating themselves, and engaging in volunteer work and mutual aid. You know my campaign slogan: A better world is possible.