We Voted, So Now What?
After an intense summer of political brainwashing with campaigns, ads and debates laced with a barrage of memes and social media commentary (Mike Pence’s fly incident anyone?), we have survived one of the most intense presidential elections of our lifetime. If you exercised your right to do so, you either mailed in your ballot or stood in line to cast a vote for the new leader of the “free” world. Granted you’ve survived the logistical nightmare of casting your vote, you’re now probably wondering, “What impact did that even have? How is my vote going to change this hectic and often unexpected life I am privileged to live?”
The world appears to be in utter chaos. There’s a global pandemic that has sent us all into a frenzy. Do we just wash our hands with soap and water like we typically do, or reach for the hand sanitizer? Can we even find sanitizer? Now, in many cases, we are forced to wear masks in public spaces. We are also color-coordinating masks with our outfits. We’re asking ourselves questions like: “Are trips that exist outside of the parameters of car travel canceled forever? Will I ever be able to comfortably spend time with my friends again? Will I ever experience that rush of standing in line for the latest sneaker release again? Can I return to campus or will I be forced to earn my degree online and lose the experiences of dorm living, campus parties, and sporting events?”
At the same time, we are being bombarded with the backlash of systemic racism. We are inundated with images and videos of Black people being murdered, along with the disproportionate numbers of those dying because of COVID-19, all while being reminded that just being born Black is all it takes to fall victim to either. We have witnessed the countless worldwide protests of people expressing fear and rage because of systemic racism. All of this leaves us to ask whether or not our lives will ever return to normal.
Now that the election is over and we’ve cast our ballots, we’re trying to convince ourselves that the seventy-year-old White guy in office (whichever one is declared the winner) is going to deliver us from all of this. That somehow this grandpa-like figure will be able to either create or restore America to a country where pride, love, and confidence replace fear, distrust, and hate.
If you’re like me, you probably have a lot of doubt. Is this man even capable of understanding the desires of the youth in this country? Those that aren’t necessarily focused on social security, they just want to be able to enjoy concerts and to travel again. Is this newly elected “savior” able to consider the concerns of women living in the country? While the emphasis may be placed on family planning and the right to choose, what about the fact that women are paid significantly less than their male counterparts? Can a White president truly embrace or understand the fears of a Black person living in America? Our dreams of thriving and capitalizing on all that this country claims to offer is being dimmed by the reality of just wanting to survive. We want to feel safe in this world we live in, regardless of the skin we’re wrapped in.
Most of all, none of us want to fear death from a virus that we don’t truly understand, while being forced to permanently guess facial expressions through someone’s forehead and eyes because the bottom half of their face is disguised with fabric and elastic. What we want extends beyond empty promises. We want to feel like ourselves again. We want hope and the reassurance that this Democracy will actually be something that we can believe in, regardless of age, gender, or race.
No matter which older White man ends up winning this election, what the President can do is lead. Lead with actions, not just words. Demonstrating that he actually hears the people and cares enough to build and execute quality plans that will positively affect all of our lives-not just the lives of those that look like him, are the same age as he is, or have the same party affiliation. We want to live full lives. What we all hoped when we stood in that line or sealed that envelope was that whoever ended up winning would truly give a damn about us. We hoped that whoever ended up occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue would be just as determined and invested in getting us to the normal we have always desired though never quite reached, as much as he was determined and invested in winning this election.
©Evangeline Lawson October 29, 2020