As vote counts start to trickle in and states swing back and forth from red to blue, the election has kept Americans’ heads spinning and unsure of the country’s fate in an exhausting year.
The electoral votes are almost split with 264 for Joe Biden and 214 for Donald Trump as of Wednesday 6:48 p.m. PST, according to the Associated Press. This uncertain election night shows how far we have to go to reach any sense of unity and sanity.
We may not know the final results of the election days or even weeks from now, but regardless of who wins, we need to see drastic change in this country. It does not matter if Trump is re-elected, it does not matter if Biden is elected; through all we have endured, this country remains incredibly divided to the point of domestic terrorism among different radical groups.
This year alone, civil unrest and COVID-19 have plagued the country. The unrest has pushed the nation to the point of citizens and businesses bracing for protests no matter who is elected, while the pandemic has substantially affected low-income communities. Tensions are high and the fact of the matter is that whoever wins the presidential election cannot please every voter or fix each of the nation’s deep-seated issues.
As much as the country expects the president to fix any issues we have, the dependency on our commander-in-chief to be our problem solver is far too great. We cannot rely on another old white man to be the saving grace of the United States.
There’s no question that many of us are worried and stressed about what is to come in the next few months. More than 80% of registered voters said they believe that the winner of this election really matters, which is the highest percentage in the past 20 years, according to a poll from Pew Research.
Despite feeling helpless as we anxiously wait to hear the outcome of the election, an opportunity to show that we are capable of making waves across social, economic and political matters may follow. Change is collective, and regardless of which candidate emerges as the next president, every person is capable of spurring it.
Even though these results are bound to bring about more animosity, we can attempt to make progress by showing each other compassion and organizing among our communities.
This does not have to be in the form of a grand gesture — not everyone has the means to lead movements or donate money. It can be as simple as having a deeper conversation with a family member, or bringing awareness to ongoing issues in the community.
These actions may seem small to some, but even though the heartening ripple effects are not always seen, it does not mean that they are insignificant.
In such a polarized nation, unity can seem unattainable. Even doing simple tasks, such as wearing a piece of fabric over your mouth and nose, have become a political statement. Many Americans may feel as though every decision they make implies that they are taking sides or choosing one political affiliation over the other. Yet, this kind of mindset does us a disservice in upholding the belief that our differences will always outweigh our commonalities.
Despite the state of division that America seems to be in, people across the country and throughout our history have shown time and again that if we come together, it can have lasting effects on our legislation and how we move forward.
It’s important to recognize the role that each of us can play in generating change. Our work to build a stronger nation will continue long after the race is called. The necessity for reform will not be quenched just because one person won an election.
This need will only be amplified and it will take a lot more than a single administration to make progress happen — it’ll take a nation.