Students react to new president-elect Joe Biden

Photo courtesy of Associated Press.

Four days after Election Day, Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States, as reported by The Associated Press (AP).Biden received 20 electoral votes from Pennsylvania, resulting in a 290-214 difference against President Donald Trump.

Other news sources reported the winner of the race to 270 electoral votes in favor of Biden. A Fox News article reported Trump has not conceded, but Biden delivered a victory speech at an event in Wilmington, Delaware Nov. 7 at 8 p.m. An update from The New York Times titled, “Biden Wins Presidency. Democrats Rejoice. Republicans Disbelieve,” also reported Biden’s victory as the president-elect Nov.7 with 77,403,311 votes, an estimated five million vote lead.

A report from Pew Research Center stated more than 100 million early votes were cast by mail or in person, surpassing the total number of votes in 2016 by two-thirds. In separate research by Forbes, more than 15 million U.S. citizens have become eligible to vote since the 2016 election. Justin Tseng, chair of the Harvard Public Opinion Project told Forbes Sept. 21, “Don’t be surprised when [young voters] turn out at the polls in historic numbers.”

The 2020 election was the first time many students were able to vote in a presidential election. The turnout among young voters has convinced many students like junior Bri Chitwood to be attentive to politics, regardless of decisions that impact herself or others.

“Growing up, I never cared much for politics,” Chitwood said. “Though, within the last year I’ve come to realize that simply ignoring politics is a privilege. Especially after the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s vital for change to speak up and care about topics, even if it doesn’t affect me directly.”

Chitwood said when she heard the news about Biden becoming the president-elect through social media, she was ecstatic and relieved. Senior Alondra Lomeli said she was also mostly overcome with momentary relief after checking her phone the morning of Nov. 7  for any election updates. 

Lomeli said she also checked Trump’s Twitter account, where he tweeted, “I won this election, by a lot” in all capital letters Nov. 7.  Attached to the tweet was a disclaimer, stating the source may not have called the race when the tweet was posted. 

“I really just hope this outcome does not lead to complacency,” Lomeli said. “ I think it’s amazing that people mobilized and made their voices heard for this election, but there is so much work to be done for our communities. There are still problems within our systems that we need to address and we need to hold leaders accountable. This is definitely a step in the right direction, but we can’t stop here.”

Junior Timothy Clapham said he had confidence Trump would be reelected and said he was surprised throughout this election when traditionally conservative states swung blue. 

A concern Clapham has under the Biden administration is the Second Amendment, as he said it is a crucial right that may be threatened. However, Clapham encouraged Republicans and Democrats alike to be informed and open to both sides. He said when there is resentment within both parties, hate will not cause it to disappear.

“Joe Biden is now my president and the commander-in-chief,” Clapham said. “Now that we all know the results, let’s see where God takes the country. Republican or Democrat, your reaction to the presidential election should not be childish and whiny. Everyone belonging to either party should be civil with each other and respectful of both candidates and their supporters.”

While a new president-elect is good for students like Lomeli, she also said there are always concerns with a new administration and individuals have to keep leaders accountable. While one battle was won, Lomeli explained, the fight is not over. The fights against racism, homophobia, xenophobia and sexism — to name a few — still need to be discussed, she said.

This year’s election was memorable in many ways. Possibly the two most notable are an election amid a pandemic and Sen. Kamala Harris making history as the first Black woman to be elected vice president. 

The ongoing pandemic is a priority both Chitwood and Lomeli said they expect the Biden administration to address. For Clapham, he said he hoped the nation would prioritize and reenter the Paris Agreement, which was signed in 2016 by former President Barack Obama to deal with mitigation, adaptation and finance on greenhouse gas emissions with the United Nations.

With new hopes and concerns for the Biden administration, time will tell how it will lead the country. While this year’s election added suspense to an already stressful year, students are encouraging civility and continuous political involvement.

“Trust the people of America that they made the right decision, our country uses democracy for a reason,” Chitwood said. “Nothing will get done if not all voices are heard. So, whatever you are passionate about, be the change you want to see.”