Like many other people on November 8, I woke up to the news of the Associated Press calling the presidential race in favour of Biden. To most, this was a cause for celebration – and to a certain extent, I maintained the same inclinations. Another four years of Trump’s presidency would definitely have consequences, several of which would disproportionately disadvantage marginalized communities within the United States, and given how close the race seemed to be, I definitely let out a sigh of relief knowing Trump’s presidency (under which over 250,000 died from poor pandemic management, millions were unemployed and evicted, immigrants were kept in what were essentially concentration camps, accessible reproductive healthcare (which is guaranteed as a human right by the UN) was reduced immensely, multiple violations of presidential powers occurred, and there were numerous attacks on democracy, to name a few) would not continue. However, mere seconds after, I found that there wasn’t an ounce of happiness or ability to celebrate within me. I didn’t want to celebrate Biden’s win - in fact, I didn’t want Biden for president at all. Of course, I was relieved Trump had lost - but what did this loss really mean?
Many have, rightfully so, criticized Trump when discussing the elections – but fail to hold Biden to the same standard of accountability. It seemed to me that while Trump certainly brought to light certain issues, given his proclivity for extremely public Twitter tantrums and general lack of tact, these flaws would most certainly not disappear under a Biden-Harris administration, - only become less noticeable and publicized. ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement), for example, has been condemned for the way they’ve “handled” migration issues (in short, locking children in cages and selling them back to their parents) under Trump’s authority. However, many rarely criticize Obama’s stance on immigration and the fact that under his administration, more people were deported than under any other president (over 2.5 million). Even fewer people seem to note that the cages used to keep immigrants in that Trump has been heavily criticized for, were in fact built by the Obama administration, and directly supported by his Vice President, Joe Biden. This isn’t to say that Trump has no fault in the immigration disaster - but it does stand to prove that before Trump, the general public simply didn’t care about what the government was doing, whether that be because of a lack of media publicization, or simply lack of interest. It’s not a stretch to say that Obama’s administration, and the countless others before his, had laid the groundwork for Trump’s presidency. It wouldn’t even be an exaggeration to say that the American government has always more or less upheld and enforced the same values - racism, militaristic imperialism, sexism, amongst others - with which many want to claim was brought in by Donald Trump. The fact is that these issues didn’t start with Trump, and they certainly won’t end with him.
In one sense, these issues are social issues - ones that pervade the everyday beliefs of people around the world - and in this sense, it’s evident that people that voted for Trump - people who upheld his ideals, or otherwise thought they were not deal breakers - will not just disappear overnight, and will certainly not just crawl back into the complacency they had been in prior to Trump’s election (Trump’s base within the GOP and far-right extremist groups, along with white supremacists have been on the rise in the days following the elections, rallying and protesting the results of the democratically-elected presidential election). However, in another, more dangerous sense, as fewer people seem to recognize this - these issues are systemic and ingrained within the very structure of American government. Without a doubt, the United States will not suddenly be free of racism, sexism, its addiction to imperial aggression abroad or LGBTQ+ discrimination overnight, merely because the White House will be occupied by a new white man.
The truth is, the Democratic party, and Biden, have always been in favour of the liberal elite, not the working-class or minoritized groups. This has been proven time and time again; Biden’s environmental policies, which while are not as horrendous as Trump’s, can hardly be classified as good, and definitely not substantial enough to address climate change on the whole (Biden has been known to support fracking despite its consequences); his plan to increase funding for the police (under the notion of reform, which is evidently only going to bring more harm, as the current prison industrial complex and law enforcement system is one inherently built upon white supremacy); his history of working with segregationists and supporting Jim Crow laws, as well as his role in writing the 1994 Crime Bill that was responsible for the mass incarceration of Black people. This is in addition to the fact that Biden has multiple rape and assault allegations against him, and holds imperialist foreign policies. His running mate, Kamala Harris, while making history as the first Asian-American and Black Female Vice President, and no doubt inspiring millions of young girls around the world, also has numerous problematic spots on her political record (Harris has convicted on over 3,000 cases of minor non-violent drug possession cases, and has placed trans women within male prisons, an act of transphobia which many ignore when claiming that the pair are LGBTQ+ allies). It's important to note that women being in positions of power is not inherently feminist, especially if they use their power to hurt other marginalized groups (case in point: Amy Coney Barrett). There’s no way to refute the fact that no politician has a perfect record that will align with everything we want them to represent. To demand someone uphold our morals, consistently, throughout their entire careers, is a demand that exists outside the realm of human ability, especially given the volatile nature of moral values. Still, being aware of people’s flaws remains especially relevant now, when we have the momentum to forge some semblance of change. Even more so, it’s important to know that while the Biden-Harris campaign has made numerous promises on which they attempt to address issues which have surfaced under Trump’s presidency, whether they live up to those promises we’ve yet to see.
Liberals also have a tendency to claim Biden as a “lesser-evil”, and while this is comparably true with some issues, it’s debatable whether or not this accreditation is even really accurate, and especially towards whom. A Biden-Harris administration would cause more damage to the global south than a Trump-Pence one - and is it really a “lesser-evil” just because it’s a more “politically agreeable” white man, who is less blatant and obvious with his prejudices, sending the bombs? As Vice President, Biden approved drone strikes on multiple hospitals, weddings and school buses, and dropped at least 26,171 bombs on innocent civilians overseas, as well as directly contributed to the illegal blockade of Yemen by Saudi Arabia which has killed upwards of 100,000 people and still persists in creating widespread famine across Yemen, which has been acknowledged as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis today (though rarely in relation to its root cause of US imperialism). The issue with the two-party system in the United States is that the more we get used to “settling” for a “lesser-evil”, (that is to say, when we accept candidates which stand for policies considered right-wing anywhere else in the world as our left-wing representation) the more slowly we shift to extremism, which in this case presents itself as fascism. When we consider such “evils”, in what manner are we doing so? If it is through a consequentialist view, that is to say, a quantifiable one, Biden may be considerably worse compared to Trump, in terms of the number of lives lost under his administration, at least outside of the United States. If we’re talking in terms of moral values, i.e who’s more racist, sexist, or homophobic, many will proudly proclaim Biden as being better than Trump in these regards. But just because he’s less apparent about these branches of bigotry does not really mean he’s any less prejudiced.
I understand that for many, it’s been a hard year. I don’t want to put a damper on people’s celebrations, and certainly don’t want to resign people to a cynical paradigm in which nothing perceivably goes right. In a world shaped by politics, it’s not enough to just criticize, as we must, but also build ideas around what we want the world to look like. Better worlds can’t be built simply by destroying all the apparent “evil” - they must also be born out of a certain vision we hold for the world. In this way, I hope being aware of Biden’s faults, of which there are many, helps us to envision improvements for the world, not just spark hate for Biden. Blind idolization is a dangerous mindset to sink into, more dangerous than the reasoning with which we justify such idolization. I hope people remember that Biden isn’t an end result, nor is he the culmination of political progress - he is, hopefully, and I try to be careful about what I place my hope in, the beginning of some semblance of political progress. Congratulations to President and Vice President-Elects Biden and Harris, as well as to the other amazing Senators and House Representatives that have won their seats during the election.