OPINION: The Time to Heal

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Hailey Stessman
OPINION EDITOR

We cannot enter a period of complacency after celebrating the outcome of the election. Graphic by Hailey Stessman/The Gateway

On Nov. 7, Joe Biden was declared the President-elect for the 2020 election with Kamala Harris as Vice President-elect with a record-breaking amount of votes.

I was enjoying my morning cup of coffee when my mom texted me that “Biden was declared the winner!!!!”  It took me a couple of seconds to fully process the news my mom had just shared with me, but once it hit me, the emotions I felt in that exact moment were overwhelming. There was a mixture of joy, relief, and a sudden urge to scream in excitement. But the most potent sensation I experienced was the ability to breathe again.

For the past four years under the Trump administration, it seemed as though the nation was collectively holding its breath. From constant scandal to conflict, the looming dark cloud of our broken democracy became heavier and seemingly unbearable. This prior week of awaiting the election results only amplified that suffocating feeling. Yet that short five word text from my mom turned everything around.

The world celebrated this historic win in joyous song and dance with a strengthening of the community. With smiles hidden behind masks and cheerful voices, the radiating happiness of the nation could be felt across miles. It was surreal, yet incredibly rewarding, to finally see change occurring in a country that has been so divided and in immense pain.

Not only did President-elect Biden receive the most votes cast for a presidential candidate with more than 74 million votes, but Harris has become the first woman, Black, and South Asian American to be a Vice President-elect.

However, we cannot let this win cause a period of complacency. Although the outcome of this election has ushered a glimmer of hope, we need to hold all of our political officials accountable for their actions and words.

Both Biden and Harris have questionable political pasts that have been put in the spotlight for inspection, especially their involvement with police enforcement. As the final results of the election were announced, many individuals on Twitter exclaimed that they were not celebrating a Biden win, but rather Trump’s loss.

And in my opinion, those individuals could not have said it any better. While Biden was not my first choice for a Democratic candidate, it was crucial that Trump had to leave the office. I try not to think about what our country would look like with another four years under the Trump administration.

During his acceptance speech, Biden claimed that now was “the time to heal.” And I wholeheartedly agree. We have been witness to violence, hate, and bigotry that further prove the systemic racism that runs through the foundation of this country. We cannot afford any more lives lost from a pandemic that was poorly handled, police brutality that displays a toxic and racist abuse of power, and hate crimes based on sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and gender identity.

So yes, let us celebrate, rest, and begin this journey of healing. But know that this fight is not over. We must continue to bring our vigor and passion to other issues that have yet to be dealt with and keep our administration held accountable. We need to fight for the rights of immigrants, sex workers, and the Black, Native American and LGTBQ+ communities. Let us not forget the need to address and fight against climate change, the wage gap, discrimination in the workplace and academic environment, an individual’s right to have autonomy over their body, low-income neighborhoods, red-lining and gerrymandering, and so much more.

But we cannot deny this sudden surge of hope and motivation that this win has brought us. It truly is the time to heal.

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