A few steps forward

Owen Longstreth

Election takeaways: progress was made, but more turmoil still lies ahead.

Art by PAULINA KUZMINA

On Saturday Nov. 7, I biked over to Town and Country Shopping Center to join a crowd celebrating the presidential election results. People wearing Biden-Harris T-shirts waved American flags and honked the horns of their fancy cars. Mixed in were people holding signs in support of Medicare for All, some of whom I recognized from racial justice protests the past summer. 

The variety of the people in the crowd says a lot about the future.Joe Biden won with a diverse coalition of voters who were both progressive and moderate. It is safe to say that for a lot of people  — myself included — this election was about defeating President Donald Trump and little else. 

Our nation still has a lot of unresolved issues and remains deeply divided. The split between the moderate and progressive factions in Democratic Party is  increasing. On top of this, the Republican Party still is a force to be reckoned with.

 My big takeaway from this election is that the American people  have taken a big step forward towards dealing with the multiple crises enveloping the nation, but we still have a lot of progress to make. Our country still needs to address many systemic problems that hold the nation back.

Now that Trump is out of office, the ideologically diverse coalition is likely not going to stay united. I know a lot of intense arguments with moderates about the Biden-Harris administration lie on the horizon. Regarding issues ranging from criminal justice to law enforcement, moderates and progressives may agree in the abstract about what needs to change but there is heavy disagreement over policy. I remember watching Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden share the  stage in March of this year. What I saw during that final debate was two very different visions for the nation.

Healthcare is an issue where the divide between these two factions is most apparent. As a progressive, I’m deeply troubled  that Biden does not endorse a single-payer system, especially during a pandemic and in the aftermath of one of the worst recessions in our country’s  history. 

“We aren’t in a free fall to hell anymore”

–U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez

A lot of other elected officials, both incumbent and newly-elected, agree with my concerns. Progressives won big this November with people like Jamaal Bowen and Cori Bush joining the ranks of the progressive wing of the party. 

It also should be noted that while Biden has won, the Far-right Republican Party still exists. In the 2020 election, seventy-four million people voted for Trump. Also, Republicans gained 10 seats in the House of Representatives, including candidates who believe the Q-Anon conspiracy theory. On top of this, the GOP might still control the Senate depending on the Georgia runoff races.

As U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez explained in an interview with the New York Times, “We aren’t in a free fall to hell anymore.” But, there was not an across-the-board concept that people voted for. For moderates, it was a return to Neoliberalism. For many progressives in congressional races, it was Leftism. And at times it was simply a statement against the borderline Fascist rhetoric we have come to expect from the GOP.

Later that night, after the celebration at Town and Country, I watched President-Elect Biden speak to the country. I watched someone who is going to have to fix a nation that has been broken by President Trump and COVID-19. When Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20, I hope  he will work with the progressives who helped  him get to the White House and start mending this broken country one problem at a time.