- Sure, we avoided another four years of descent into fascism, but that does not mean that we now get to sit back and let politics go back to its pre-Trump-era nature.
I had been waiting for the events of this past weekend, since November 8th, 2016. Even though my political stances were far from being fully-formed at the time, I knew very well that the man who just got elected to be the President of the country did not represent my values at all. I had felt dejected and angry and helpless. I had felt like all of the rhetoric around America being the land of opportunities and freedom went out the window. How can a country be the land of opportunity and freedom when we had just elected a president who stood against every single ideal embedded in that sentiment?
Beginning January 20th, 2021, we are given an opportunity to start fresh, rebuild this nation, and revive our political institutions to reflect the will of the people. This is why even though we have temporarily avoided a fascist fate, voting President Trump out is merely the first step. Over the next four years, there is a lot to be done in terms of getting the country to see past the multitude of divisions that this administration has deepened. The wounds that Trump has opened up in the fabric of this nation will take years to heal; and will require a concerted effort from the federal and state governments, but most importantly, from the people.
For me, this election means more than just a repudiation of the ideas President Trump brought to the White House; for me, it is also about the glass ceiling that Senator and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris has just shattered. The White House will have its first-ever female Vice President, Black Vice President, Indian-American Vice President, and its first-ever Vice President to be a graduate from a Historically Black College or University.
With so many firsts even before she has assumed her position, she has already paved the way for generations of women and people of color to dream big. To be able to live in a time where I can look at the White House and know that there is someone who looks just like me in there is an elating feeling. To see that the ceiling that has kept women out of the White House for 244 years has been shattered by someone who looks just like me is an absolutely exhilarating feeling.
Although there are many reasons to celebrate, the results of this election is just the first step to the many required to bring decency and civility back to the mainstream narrative in this country. There is much work to be done in terms of the political divide between the two parties, the disconnect that large parts of the country feel when they think of Washington D.C. and the federal government, the state of race relations in this country, and much more.
If anything, this administration has shed light on the shortcomings of the U.S. Constitution, of the two-party system, of the system of checks and balances, and of the supposed limitations we have on unilateral executive powers. We now know what needs to be fixed in the three branches of the government, and in terms of relationships with the states. And over the next four years, I fully expect the Biden administration to keep their campaign promises and go even beyond to protect our fundamental rights and to restore our institutions.
And that is also where I have qualms about the upcoming administration: sure, we avoided another four years of descent into fascism, but that does not mean that we now get to sit back and let politics go back to its pre-Trump-era nature. If anything, these next four years are going to require more effort and participation on the part of the American citizenry.
Pre-Trump-era politics is not the goal here; the goal during the Biden administration is to move this country past that point. There is so much work to be done in terms of mending race relations, increasing protections for women’s rights, establishing institutional safeguards for LGBTQ rights, implementing policies to tackle climate change, building a healthcare infrastructure, and much more.
We need to make sure that we do not become complacent and allow this country to go back to the pace of progress we were at four years ago. We need to use the momentum created by the reaction to the Trump administration to push forward policies that will radically change the atmosphere of this nation. We have to bring this nation back to the point where anyone, no matter their identifiers can aspire to assume high offices in the land and not feel like they do not have a shot.
Gowri Nayar is a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and is interested in pursuing a career in the legal field, with a special emphasis on constitutional law and civil liberties. Her undergraduate education was mainly focused on courses that helped her understand the complex ways in which various hierarchies and systems of domination operate with our society today. She hopes to be able to use her unique perspective as a first-generation South-Asian immigrant and as a daughter of a single parent, to make a positive and meaningful impact in her community.