4 Ways This Election Has Been Historic

The past few days have been incredibly stressful for most Americans and I as we wait in suspense for our next president to be announced. Since Tuesday night, there has been non-stop talk of vote counts and the battleground states that will lead either President Trump or former Vice President Biden to victory.

Although the waiting has been long and difficult, here are a few ways in which the 2020 election has made history in positive ways.

1. Only 10 out of 44* presidents have ever lost a reelection race.

A lot of us are feeling disappointed that this race is so close and that a president who many see as a racist, sexist and homophobe still has a substantial amount of support after four years of political chaos. Although I share in this disappointment, it is worth remembering that unseating an incumbent president is not an easy task. Biden winning this election is an exceptional occurrence, and Trump would be only the 11th president to lose a consecutive second term race. 

On top of beating Trump, Biden held a lead in popular votes of 4,102,314 votes, as of Nov. 6. That level of voter turnout is unprecedented and shows how effective organizers and activists were at getting people to exercise their right this election cycle.

*Side note: I learned something new while researching for this article: although there have been 45 distinct presidencies, Trump is the 44th person to hold the office since Grover Cleveland was elected, for two separate presidencies, the 22nd and the 24th.

2. A record number of women were elected this year

131 Congresswomen were elected this cycle, which surpassed the 2018 record of 129. Also, 49 of these are women of color. Even Republicans are slowly welcoming women into political leadership, with 31 Republican women joining Congress. Although women are still underrepresented, accounting for less than 25% of legislators, these are substantial gains and we should view it as a step in the right direction.

3. People of color made history

The most significant first is Kamala Harris being the first Black woman to be elected vice president. In the House, Cori Bush became the first Black woman elected to Congress in Missouri. Marilyn Strickland became the first Black, Korean-American representative of Washington and the first Korean-American Congresswoman ever. This article lists several other firsts for people of color elected to local governments.  

4. So did LGBTQ+ people 

Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres, both representing New York in the House, are the first Black, openly gay men to serve in Congress. In Delaware, Sarah McBride is the first transgender state senator, and in Oklahoma, Mauree Turner is the first nonbinary candidate elected to a state legislature as representative. While Delaware and New York are known for being liberal states, Turner’s victory comes as a surprise in a traditionally red state such as Oklahoma.

5. Florida passed a minimum-wage amendment

This was likely an important topic for many of us at FIU, and in exciting news, the minimum wage in Florida will be incrementally increased to $15 by 2026. Next year, the wage will increase from $8.56 to $10 and continue to increase by $1 every year until 2026. The amendment passed with a 60.8% approval rating, showing that Democrats and Republicans alike see an issue that needs to be addressed in terms of securing a living wage. 

Although this has been an incredibly tight, stressful few days for many Americans, and there is still a lot of work to be done in having equal representation in our government, these are great strides and accomplishments to be celebrated.