By Dalton Lucas
An unavoidable sense of relief washed over me Saturday morning as major networks projected the former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris would be the next president and vice president of the United States. The feelings of anxiety and fear that had overtaken in the days following Tuesday evaporated into pure joy. A restoration of decency, civil discourse and competence would finally be returning to the executive branch of our government. A president that believes in science, that believes Black lives matter and one that will fight for a more equitable society for all Americans would now occupy the oval office.
I thought of the organizers, volunteers, advocates and overwhelming voter turnout that made this outcome possible. I thought of the countless hours spent knocking on doors, making phone calls and registering voters that collectively propelled Biden to victory. I was amazed to see images of Americans celebrating in the streets, knowing that democracy had won.
I received countless messages from colleagues and friends abroad that celebrated the return of America. The next leader of the free world will cooperate with our allies and defend American values throughout every corner of the world.
I reflected on the historic nature of this election. After 244 years, the nation elected the first Black and first Asian American woman vice president on the bicentennial of women being able to participate in our democratic process.
Harris said, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.”
Moving forward, I choose to be hopeful. I choose to imagine a world where the president, whether Democrat or Republican, is someone the entire nation can look to as a symbol of leadership and admiration. A president that can be trusted. A president with empathy.
Simultaneously, I am reminded that while Biden represents a return of normalcy, I vehemently desire to not return to the politics of the past. Biden ran on one of the most progressive platforms of any major party candidate in modern history, and I expect he will fight for the policies that turned out progressive, young voters.
While politics can be a nasty game of partisanship, I choose to believe that debate can lead to common ground and progress. We are on track to see one of the highest voter turnout rates in modern history. Our democratic processes are working and improving as every day Americans showed up to express their views. Biden received more votes than any other candidate for president in the history of the United States. President Donald J. Trump will be the second most popular vote earner. We live in a divided nation, but I trust that Biden will work to heal the deep scars that live in the hearts of the American people.
We have many challenges ahead. The pandemic continues to ravage our communities, systemic racial injustices plague our society and millions of Americans live in poverty. I am fervently confident that the incoming administration will not rest until these issues are both addressed and resolved.
My concerns for the stability of our republic stem from the rapid spread of misinformation, both online and from the mouths of elected representatives and officials. Trump and his team have every right to request recounts and bring legitimate lawsuits before the judiciary. However, claiming fraud without any evidence is a reckless display of the inability to accept defeat. So far, the president’s legal team has uncovered zero evidence of voter fraud, which is exceedingly rare in contemporary U.S. elections.
To my conservative peers, I hope that we can continue with a civil debate that allows for a meaningful exchange of ideas. Diversity of thought makes our country collectively stronger, and I believe that our differences are a necessary part of the experiment we both hold dear. We all want what is best for this nation; we just have two separate views on how to get there.
Progress in this country is slow, but that is not an indicator that change is never possible. The idea of our collective experiment is rooted in the fundamental nature that we must fight for a more perfect union expanding on the ideas of the past and working toward a more inclusive and equitable society. The promise of a better tomorrow is alive and well in America.
Millions of Americans voted for change. We marched, we organized, we won. The battle for the soul of the nation is over, as we usher in a new chapter of our American experiment.