Joe Biden Won… Now What?

The election is over! Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won with an astounding 77 million votes. The celebrations and fanfare of Biden’s victory are beginning to settle, and, in its wake, we see a whole host of unanswered questions: will Donald Trump concede? How will the Republican Party move forward? Will they continue to embrace Trumpism? How will the Senate runoff elections in Georgia turn out? How will Biden govern––will he push for progressive policies or will he remain more moderate? And how on earth does our country begin to heal itself?

All of this is to say that this fight is not over. If you were among the record number of young people who registered and voted in this election, your work is not finished yet. The issues that motivated you to vote are far from resolved. Electing Biden was a step in the right direction. It was a step towards real action to combat climate change, gun violence, and police brutality; but we cannot confuse his victory with the victory of the movements and groups that propelled him to power.

We must not let ourselves get too comfortable: Trump was voted out (and he has not even conceded yet, but that’s an entirely different issue), but as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in early 2019, removing Trump, “will not remove the infrastructure of an entire party that embraced him; the dark money that funded him; the online radicalization that drummed his army; nor the racism he amplified [and] reanimated.” We have a long way to go as a country, so the best thing we can all do is stay engaged. This election was dubbed the most important of our lifetime, and it appears that we succeeded, but to truly be successful and create meaningful changes in our institutions, we must continue to vote, pay attention to the state of our country, and question our corrupt systems even when they work in our favor.

That being said, we should also celebrate! In addition to the record high voter turnout and election of Joe Biden, there were many other victories on Election Day. The monumental nature of Kamala Harris’ candidacy was not discussed with as much intensity or fanfare as it was in Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, but Harris broke barriers nonetheless as America’s first female, first Black, and first South Asian vice president-elect. Additionally, progressive policies and candidates found great success on Election Day: every candidate that co-sponsored Medicare for All in a swing district held onto their seat, as well as every member of The Squad; Cori Bush, a Fergusson activist, will become the first African-American woman to represent Missouri in the House of Representatives; four states voted to legalize marijuana and Oregon decriminalized small amounts of other drugs, and LGBTQ+ candidates won historic victories across the country. Much of this was overshadowed by the chaos of election day, but as the dust settles and we look ahead, we should celebrate these victories and be inspired by what they mean for our country.