Now that the 2020 presidential election is over, it’s time to do an autopsy. What did we learn? We learned that nearly 160 million Americans voted in this year’s presidential election as of this writing. Clearly, people felt that a lot was on the line. Joe Biden proclaimed that the “Soul of the Nation” was on the line and that he would “Build Back Better.” In comparison, Donald Trump vowed to “Keep America Great!” The result was a historic presidential election.
What else did we learn? We were once again reminded that we have a presidential election system that allows the candidate with the least number of votes to win the presidency—or viewed from another perspective, a system that will enable the person with the most votes to lose the presidency. Thank you, Electoral College. By the way, in another nod to irony, I recently discovered that the creation of the Electoral College has ties to the institution of slavery. During the era of slavery, the constitution’s provision allowed southern states to count slaves as 3/5 human for Congressional allocation and political gain. Even though African Americans, because they were slaves, could not vote. In essence, African Americans were used as pawns in the political chess game. There is further irony in that African Americans still believe that they are pawns in the political game, given the propensity of African Americans to vote for Democratic candidates, even though African Americans remain at the bottom of many major well-being indicators such as income, health care, and education.
Despite this, this autopsy further shows that during the 2020 presidential election, African American voters turned out in record numbers in support of the Democratic candidates. This turnout level could directly result from having the first female and African American/Asian American vice-presidential candidate on the ticket. Regardless, in the future, it will be interesting to see if the issues mentioned above that have plagued African Americans for centuries will be addressed in any meaningful, long-term way, given the continued support of African Americans to this political party.
Perhaps what is most apparent from this autopsy is that America remains as divided as ever. When the winner of the election, Joe Biden, receives over 75 million votes and the loser of the election, Donald Trump, receives over 72 million votes, one can see that both candidates’ political views and ideologies were widely supported. And as we witness the specter of a less than smooth transition of power, this country’s divisions continue to take us down a dark path, where even the institution of democracy is being challenged.
Meanwhile, the autopsy shows that the COVID-19 virus has resulted in over 10 million infected and over 250,000 dead. Some say this election was as much about this disease as it was politics and ideology. One thing is certain; people continue to die. The virus has no political affiliation, no agenda, only sickness, and death.
So in the final autopsy of the 2020 Presidential election, I surmise that America will either rise together or fall together. Following the 2016 election, people wondered what the next four years would bring. Following this election, we are left wondering what the next few hours, days, weeks, and months will bring. Despite our differences on Election Day, there must be a call for a higher level of civility and understanding. The future depends on it.