The Associated Press declared Joe Biden president-elect following his electoral win in Pennsylvania Nov. 7. For many, this was cause for celebration and was the first time in four years we were able to exhale. With Biden’s declared victory, I was once again hopeful for my future as a citizen of the United States.
Celebrating Biden’s win was met with criticism from both parties. As much as the country united with a positive outlook on the future, some labeled the celebrations as ignorant. Debate began regarding the idolization of politicians.
Those who pretentiously pride themselves on social awareness ironically often lack just that. The criticism of our celebration is one of many instances where performative social activists contradict the causes they aim to support.
We are not idolizing politicians by celebrating a victory that represents progression toward a goal. Biden’s win is so much more than an election result.
According to CNBC, the projected vote total for the 2020 presidential election is at least 159.8 million. This is the highest voter turnout rate since 1900.
Exit poll data suggests the increase in voter turnout is partially responsible for Biden’s win.
According to Tufts University’s Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), over 25 million of this year’s votes were cast by Generation Z and Millennials, with most of this demographic being left-leaning.
A CIRCLE poll reported 95% of young people who voted for president-elect Biden said racism and racism in policing are very serious issues.
Young People of Color are realizing the importance of voting. They have seemingly developed a passion for political involvement based on the hope Biden will advocate for them. This passion may not have existed otherwise because Biden was the motivator.
This alone called for celebration. The influx of young voters of color is monumental and has the power to alter our democracy for the better.
The CIRCLE poll results also give insight into why Democrats in general are so passionate about this year’s election. Youth and minorities showed up in record numbers to cast their votes for Biden not because they idolize him, but because they want to see change.
Biden’s win is representative of the country’s progress toward racial equality. For the past four years, we have had to sit back and observe one racial injustice after the next, knowing our president does not care to change this cycle.
This is why underrepresented communities united for this election. We came out to vote in numbers higher than anyone projected. Many first-time voters learned how impactful their voices can be and succeeded in electing a candidate they support.
Our communities rarely see direct change from our political actions, which is often the barrier that prevents young minorities from voting. We are rarely acknowledged or advocated for, so it is difficult to believe our votes matter as much as those more valued by society.
This is why the Biden victory was so impactful. It is necessary these communities understand how powerful their votes actually are. Through Biden’s victory, we were able to see our actions create change in the most significant way possible.
Beyond progression toward equality, Biden’s win is also representative of the shift toward Democratic policies, since the U.S. has been under Republican leadership for the past four years.
Trump’s Republican policies left many fearful they would lose basic rights. Trump has made efforts to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and repeal the Affordable Care Act during his time in office.
When we celebrate Biden’s win, we are celebrating the hope that these lifesaving policies will not be completely abandoned.
Yes, idolization of politicians is a problem. We are not trying to convince skeptics that Biden is perfect and should be worshipped. However, we should be able to celebrate Biden’s win and everything it represents for many of us.
The Biden-Harris victory reignited faith in U.S. democracy. For a few days, citizens across all demographics united to celebrate the bigger picture: a fresh start. We have been given the opportunity to move forward.
On Nov. 7, Biden took the stage to deliver a victory speech that focused on the future.
“I sought this office to restore the soul of America,” Biden said. “To rebuild the backbone of the nation — the middle class. To make America respected around the world again and to unite us here at home.”
This is why we celebrate. We are hopeful for what the future holds. We are ready to heal.