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“On edge, elated and exhausted”: American women react to the dramatic US presidential election result

After an eventful week in the US, almost all the votes in the dramatic 2020 presidential election have been counted. Here, women from across the States tell us how they feel now we know Joe Biden will be the 46th president of America.

  • Kayla Hui, 24, New York

    The past few days have been an emotional rollercoaster

    I have been watching CNN and ABC but keeping my eyes on the New York Times for state poll updates. I try to diversify my news sources though.

    I have been waking up prematurely before my alarm rings to check the results. My anxiety and stress levels have been at an all time high because as a woman of colour, a daughter and granddaughter of immigrants, I know what is at stake not just for my community but for the community at large. My very existence and the existence of my sisters and brothers of colour are threatened by Trump, his policies, and his supporters. BIPOC, low-income people, the LGBTQ communities, and women have had their civil rights, health, and livelihood under constant threat these past four years. 

    It is my fervent wish that these communities can begin to grow, heal, and reclaim under a Biden administration. And by no means is Biden perfect. Electing Biden does not mean that we won’t have work to do. It just means that we can work with him to create a society we want to live in.

    Trump acts like a four-year-old child whenever he can’t get his way. It baffles me how Trump calls voter fraud when there is no evidence. He also chants “stop the count.” All votes need to be counted because this is how elections work. It is a democracy. And does he know that doing so will mean he loses? His rhetoric has caused people to assume that votes can be illegal. Illegal votes don’t exist. Trump’s conspiracy theories and misinformation have threatened this election by sending false information. Misinformation ripples communities and further divides us. If I could talk to Trump, I would say “Pollers are doing their jobs! You shouldn’t complain. You haven’t been doing yours for four years now!”

    I am feeling hopeful to see states like Georgia and Pennsylvania turn blue. While I can’t invest all of my excitement because a winner has not yet been declared, I can sleep a little better knowing that 50% of America chose to stand on the right side of history, for our future, for our lives. There is a lot of work that needs to be done, but I feel hopeful that with a new president, new administration, and of course, Kamala Harris who is a woman of colour, we can get what needs to be done

  • Mekeisha Madden Toby, 43, California

    Last Tuesday, I felt more despair than I thought I could. The votes were trickling in slowly and I was deathly afraid that Trump would be in power for four more years. And then an amazing thing happened on Wednesday morning. The tide started to turn and more votes came in and Biden won Wisconsin and Michigan. 

    My hometown of Detroit had the votes needed to change everything and then my hope returned. And I was able to tell my daughter that good news was coming without crossing my fingers behind my back. 

    By Friday, it was clear that Biden and Harris were going to win and we’d have our first woman Vice President – a Black and Indian woman who graduated from a HBCU(historically black college or university). When Biden and Harris won Pennsylvania and the race on Saturday morning, I danced from the time I woke up until midnight. I was that happy.

    I feel like a weight has lifted. That’s it’s ok to laugh with my whole body and feel like there is hope for this country and our kids again.

    Yes, Biden and Harris have a long and arduous road ahead with Covid and systemic racism. But we all do. And yes, I am disappointed in the 70 million Americans who thought four more years of Trump and hate was worth a shot. And don’t get me started on the 55 per cent of white women who voted for Trump.

    But for now, I’m not focused on the negative. I am focused on history being made by President elect Biden and Vice President elect Harris. I am joyous and excited about the future.

  • Kendra Stanton Lee, 40, Boston

    I’m a liberal white woman in Boston, a very liberal city in a liberal state, and my feelings of dread have only been heightened this past week. I’m married to a Canadian who earned his American citizenship chiefly so that he could vote against Trump in 2016. 

    The last four years of the Trump Administration have felt like a chronic fever dream for us, but we are starting to feel the fever break. Biden’s victory is sweet, and I’m glad our democratic process has worked even with the extra complications caused by Covid-19. 

    Still, the number of my fellow Americans who backed an incumbent whose ideology is so entrenched in ableism and white supremacy is beyond the pale. That Trump continues to broker in lies and disinformation is unsurprising; we’ve known the Emperor has no clothes for some time now. I’ve been following the ballot counts mainly online, toggling between NPR.org and NYTimes.com, listening obsessively to the radio whenever I am home or in the car. 

    Our kids, age 12 and 10, have been following obsessively right along with us. I hope they will remember living through history in the making.

  • Taylor Hunsberger, 26, Brooklyn, New York

    It has been an exhausting and anxious week waiting for the results. I have been an active volunteer in this election since the beginning and have been a political organiser since college, so to say that I am overwhelmed by the work that has gone into these results is an understatement. I began canvassing for the Bernie campaign with the hopes of changing the future of the United States and though we have a long way to go in electing progressive candidates, it is inspiring to see so many people turn out to send hand-written letters, phone calls, and text messages to let people know how the government decisions directly impact them. 

    I have been seeing key states flip blue on my Twitter feed in real time, and I know this is the direct result of all of the organisers who have taken time out of their lives in advocating for people they don’t even know. Trump and his actions are a direct, violent threat to the marginalised groups of people of the United States. 

    Though I am feeling much more hopeful today as we get closer to concrete Covid relief and a presidency that will at the very least make it possible to protect the human rights that Trump has so willingly destroyed over the past four years. The work does not end here though. Trump was the result of a mass problem of white supremacy and we cannot ignore that. My thoughts are with Tara Reid and Anita Hill, who were violated and greatly disrespected by Joe Biden. They cannot be forgotten while we celebrate the exit of Trump. It’s time to gear up to continue the fight towards equity and a higher quality of life for all people of this country, not just the richest few. 

    If you have been at all involved in changing the results of this election: thank you, keep going.

  • Olivia Pace, 24, Portland, Oregon

    I’ve been obsessively watching CNN for the last three days which I absolutely do not love. I do not celebrate Joe Biden, but I really don’t have the brain cells left for a Trump presidency. So I was keeping up much more obsessively than I thought I would be.

    I am certainly relieved that Trump has been voted out, but I still have a lot of fear. Fear of white supremacist violence as backlash, especially in Portland where I’m from, a hub for white supremacist organising. I am also afraid that many of those who took to the streets for the first time under Trump will become complacent under Biden, and weaken the political movements that have built up in the last four years.

    I’m relieved today. We keep fighting tomorrow. I don’t feel like I have time to hold my breath. 

  • Emma Banks, 27, Seattle, WA

    I’ve spent the last few days doom-scrolling on Twitter, waiting on election results to trickle in. The Biden win is an obvious relief, a return to some sort of normalcy, but therein lies the problem — we need radical change, not a throwback to the Obama era. 

    So Biden winning is the bare minimum. I’m excited to hold him accountable instead of worrying about when our current president will finally go off the deep end. I feel like the nightmare is finally over, but only politically speaking — we have so much more work to do on the ground. 

    Trump didn’t create racism in this country, he just gave it a voice. We’ve still got to face our demons, no matter who’s in office. 

  • Karina E. Contreras, 31, Richmond, Virginia

    The last few days have been a roller coaster ride. I watched CNN all Wednesday night and fell asleep anxious. By last Thursday, I kept seeing more red on the maps and felt so worried. Seeing the colour red all over the screen made me feel heated, especially because Trump’s allegations of fraudulent voting was just another way of making himself appear like a victim, once again. Since this was my first time voting, I was upset at having received this email:

    “This email is to inform you that your absentee ballot has to be corrected before 12 o’clock noon Friday in order for vote to be counted. We are located at 2134 W. Laburnum avenue we are open from 8am to 5pm”

    I wasn’t able to go back to fix the so-called mystery mistake. Although I was frustrated that my first time vote didn’t count, I felt relieved when I woke up Friday and saw Biden have over 250 electoral votes. I feel hopeful now because Biden and Kamala signal a dawning of a new age of peace of cooperation which haven’t been felt since Trump has been the president of the Divided States, not the United States. 

  • Sharon Klahr Coey, 50, from New York

    Rollercoaster of emotions doesn’t even begin to capture the way I’ve been feeling over the last few days.

    Like most people, I spent Tuesday night not sleeping and obsessively checking my phone from CNN to FiveThirtyEight to Fox (yea Fox, you know the saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”).

    The fact that Trump wasn’t ousted in a decisive landslide of blue condemnation filled me with misery and frankly, nausea. I couldn’t quite articulate correctly, but thankfully Van Jones (a democratic news commentator and former member of Obama’s white house) could.

    “There’s the moral victory, and there’s the political victory, they are not the same. The Democratic political victory might still come. But I believe people wanted a moral victory tonight.”

    I didn’t even pretend to work on Wednesday, all I did was refresh the three websites from the night before and when I was feeling really masochistic, Facebook — deliberately looking for the Trumpiest from my Texas high school to see what they were saying.

    By Thursday, I was feeling much better, they were counting the mail in votes and it was looking like Biden could win, I started to feel better. My friends (all Biden supporters) and I sent around funny Trump memes. Good times!

    I woke on Friday feeling cautiously optimistic, but then as Trump and his hideous spawn rambled on about “voter fraud” and they were going to take it to the courts I got worried.

    Worried because the Republicans have proven they are unscrupulous when it comes to power. Look at the Supreme Court. They blocked Obama’s pick in an election year, but shoved through Trump’s with a week to go to the election, they don’t even try to hide it.

    Now that It’s official I’ve breathed a huge sigh of relief. There are adults in charge and we have the first woman vice president, not only that, but a woman of colour! (In her white suffragette pant suit.) A smart, capable, warm funny woman who all little girls can look up to. Hell, I’m fifty and I look up to her.

    Look, America won’t be fixed overnight, but I’m so happy to be proud to be American again. 

  • Alicia Veglia, 33, California

    I’ve been on edge, stressed and anxious — and doing a lot of yoga. This process has taught us all to be patient. At the same time, I have always held out hope, and seeing the results in Georgia and Pennsylvania come in for Biden has made me feel very hopeful. It will be a big sigh of relief when things are finalised and Biden is confirmed as our next president.

    I watched it all mainly on ABC News with George Stephanopoulos.  The programming is well done and they have folks from both sides offering perspectives. It has been reassuring to see Republicans dismiss Trump’s unfounded voter fraud claims and stand by our democratic process. I have also been obsessively checking results online via the Associated Press.

    Trump’s actions are appalling. He is the least respectable, presidential person on the planet and I’m completely embarrassed he has held that position for the last four years. His latest claim of voter fraud—which we all saw coming for months—is very dangerous authoritarian rhetoric that is completely unfounded. I am pleased that his court cases have already been tossed out and that the majority of the American people are respecting the voting process.

    I feel hopeful for the first time in four years. I moved back to America just as Trump became president and it has been a very troublesome time for me, particularly living in Los Angeles which is very left. In some ways that insulates you from Washington but it makes it that much harder to accept the fact that Trump is (was) actually our president. There are so many abhorrent things he has done and yet people still support him. He got more votes this election than 2016! How?! It’s shocking. I’m proud of all the Americans who came together to vote him out and make their voices heard. I believe Joe Biden may be the only person who can bring this divisive country together in some meaningful ways. He has already shown leadership during this election process and I’m excited to see how his presidency unfolds. 

  • Adrianna Nine, 24, Phoenix, Arizona

    Because we knew ahead of time that counting all the ballots would take a bit, I stayed away from most news networks and stuck mainly to the Associated Press map, which I checked a few times a day.

    Finally, after four years of holding our breath, many of us can exhale. There’s no question that the things we’ve seen Trump exacerbate, like white supremacy, sexism, and violence, will not go away overnight, and that those things will require a long uphill battle to defeat. But to pretend this victory isn’t a major relief for women, LGBTQ folks, people of colour, and other marginalised groups would be ignorant when the alternative is so dark. This is a win. And it’s nice to know that all of the volunteering, organising, phone banking, sign-making, etc. was worth it. 

  • Mary Novaria, 61 Evergreen, Colorado

    Ordinarily I love to win, but there’s less joy in winning this time. My hopes for the future are tempered by my despair that 70 million Americans voted (again) for a heartless, narcissistic president who compulsively lies, disparages science, and abdicates leadership during a raging pandemic. I’m not sure how to move past it.

    Angst and exhaustion are palpable. My dismay is personal. How do I forgive the good folks I know who intentionally threw their support behind someone who’s devoid of compassion and has demonstrated an appalling indifference to civil and human rights?

    Their ballots speak loud and clear: My Black friends’ lives really don’t matter. Holding immigrants in cages while “misplacing” the parents of 545 kids is no biggie. And 235,000 Covid deaths are not a dealbreaker. Nevertheless, they consider themselves “pro-life” – justification for finagling Supreme Court justices who are amenable to stripping women of their reproductive rights, dismantling health care for those who need it the most, and reversing protections for LGBTQ Americans – including my kid!

    America is split apart and infected like a vast, gaping wound. I feel the cut deeply and I fear it will heal into a resentful, jagged scar that renders us unrecognisable. 

  • Lauren Maxwell, 35, Greenville, SC

    After too many hours spent refreshing Twitter, we finally know Trump is done. Biden’s win secured a foothold we desperately needed in this country. We’ve gained one last chance to act on climate and a vital opportunity to slow the devastation of Covid-19. I’m encouraged that we will now appeal to a President who believes in truth and science, and is more likely to listen. But we have a long way to go.

    The relentless brutality of racism in the United States made itself clear again in this election. White voters disappointed me, especially white women, though it doesn’t come as a surprise. Unless we move towards the healing and reconciliation demanded by our nation’s beginnings, we will fight this battle repeatedly.

    I worked the polls for the first time on Election Day, and I’ll never forget a minority woman who asked for help reading her ballot. “It’s my first time voting,” she whispered. Afterwards, she had her photo taken by the polling place flag. She was beaming. I want a future in which that woman has the same access I’ve always taken for granted.

    This win stands on the shoulders of activists and organisers who have done the work Stacey Abrams did in Georgia for generations. Their faith inspires me, and I will do whatever I can to contribute to the movement.

Main Image: Getty

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