Even with polls and political operatives predicting an easy presidential win for Joe Biden, I never believed it. For one, 2016 was still on my mind. The year that President Donald Trump stunned us all, including many who voted for him, with his victory. I also couldn’t ignore the packed rallies of voters who cheered Mr. Trump on like a rock star. And most of all I have watched the president help release deep racial animosities in this country to motivate his base. We can blame him for riling these feelings up in others, but we can’t deny how easy it was to do it. All of this made me believe we’d be right at the point that we are — a tight acrimonious election challenged by lawsuits.
The election has only further exposed how deeply divided along racial lines that the U.S., the so-called land of opportunity, truly is. Preliminary exit polling by Edison Research for the National Election Pool found that 57% of white voters supported President Trump and 42% Mr. Biden. In comparison, Mr. Biden won 87% of the Black vote and Mr. Trump just 12%. Seventy-six percent of white evangelicals or born again Christians also voted for Mr. Trump. And the white women that pushed the president over the finish line last election rallied for him again this year. Sexual assault and adultery accusations be damned.
When you live in a city like Baltimore, where Black men were just elected to the three highest elected offices and a new progressive City Council will soon take office, it’s hard to remember that many other parts of the country are not as enlightened and forward-thinking. My late aunt who lived in Oklahoma would often tell me that I didn’t know how real America operated when we talked politics. That’s not to say that I am naive or living in an altered reality; of course I know that racism exists and have personally experienced it more times than I care to remember. But it still stings a little as an African American woman to know that so many white Americans are willing to vote for a president that exploits race and openly supports racist acts. It is hard not to take it personally. And don’t get me started on my fellow African Americans, including 18% of Black men, who were willing to brush the issue off as well. Some say they feel ignored by the Democratic Party or that Mr. Biden was no different from his opponent because of his tough on crime stance decades ago. No different from Mr. Trump? Gimme a break. There was simply no good reason to vote for bigotry. There is no perfect candidate, but some are far more tainted than others.
Some of us can’t ignore racism because we live it. It’s a privilege to be able choose when you will decide to care about racism. When it doesn’t bother people that our president retweeted video of a Trump supporter saying white power (his staff later said he didn’t hear it, though it is pretty clear in the video) and calling neo-Nazis in Charlottesville “very fine people,” it makes me believe that the U.S. will never reach a state of anti-racism. President Trump just voices the real thoughts of many people too cowardly to express themselves until given permission by the top leader of the land. And President Trump, who doles out tax cuts to the rich, will not act in the best interests of many of those who voted for him. It’s not just his views on race that are the issue, either. He has jeopardized the national security of the country, ruined our reputation around the world, destroyed the economy and put lives at risk with a lackluster COVID-19 response, and he has lied about just about everything. He continues to stir up chaos even now by spreading misinformation about the election process and results.
The bright side to this election is that it has created a sense of urgency and activism among people worried about the integrity of our country and the threat to democracy. Mr. Biden has set a record for the popular vote, garnering more votes than President Barack Obama did in 2008. But the archaic and unfair Electoral College system doesn’t put much credence in the popular vote, as we saw in 2016. We’ll have to wait for the lawsuits to run their course before this is over.
In the meantime we have local politics. I expect our newly elected officials In Baltimore will bring more integrity and a focus on equality than our current president. And that’s something to be thankful about.
Andrea K. McDaniels is The Sun’s deputy editorial page editor. Please send her ideas at email@example.com.