Election 2020

The Rest is History

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

So, our long national nightmare is over or at least it will be in a little over seventy days when Trump is no longer tweeting from the Oval Office.

Last week was easily the second most unsettling week of my life behind the week that my mother passed away in January of 2019. And speaking of her, she would have been delighted to see Trump defeated and humiliated. I can't say how much it may have contributed to the depression that ultimately killed her, but I know she hated the direction the country was headed under Trump and she certainly hated the man himself. So say we all.

I was elated to vote on election day and I have the glowing selfies to prove it. I was concerned that I may have difficulty voting because I'm transgender and I no longer even remotely the resemble the photograph on my driver's license, but that was fortunately not the case. I had to stand outside in the 37 degree weather to get there, but once I finally reached my polling precinct, I was relieved to see that all of the poll workers were women and most of them were younger than me. The young girl who entered me into the system, who appeared to be about 21 years old, did not even bat an eye when I handed her my ID. Bless her heart I think she was more afraid of the crowd than I was.

The relative high I was riding during the day is probably the only thing that prevented me from collapsing on election night as the results looked uncertain at best. Even though I knew it would take time to count all the votes, just the threat of another four years was enough to make one feel sick. And even as it became apparent that Biden would eventually take the lead and win, feeling threatened is not something that you easily forget. Just the fact that you're in a position to feel threatened is something that sticks with you, as I have learned. And it shouldn't have to be that way. No one should have to feel like every election is literally a matter of life and death even if it is.

By Thursday of last week, it was all but certain that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would win, but for various reasons the major media networks and press organizations refused to make any further calls. And that was infuriating to me; it was infuriating to know that relief was inches away but to have it denied. I felt emotionally held hostage as Friday came and went without a call. I exercised six out of the last seven days and drank every single night between Tuesday and Saturday just to forget for a few hours.

I woke up angry on Saturday because we still didn't have a call that would allow me to finally release equal parts of frustration and joy and emotionally move on from election day. And when we finally got the call, the release was more intense than I expected.

Once the Associated Press finally called the race for Joe Biden, I leapt out of bed and bounced in my living room. I can't even describe the noise I made other than to say it was a mixture of excitement and relief. But as you may know, there's always a backside to that relief. I also collapsed on my living room floor and cried when it sank in that it was finally over; that I could stop being angry and move on from election day. The bandage was finally ripped off a deep scar.

Although it embarrasses me to some degree, that would not be the only time I cried on Saturday as closing the night out after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris delivered their victory speeches was also as emotional as I knew it would be. You could say a lot has happened in the last few years, but that is especially true for me. I've transformed in more ways than one and what I like to stress to people who don't know is that while the physical changes of transition are drastic, the emotional changes that you can't see are even more significant. I have gone from feeling very little or nothing to feeling everything. Sometimes that means hurting; it means crying. But I wouldn't take it back for anything. If you told me I had to go back to my old life, I would tell you I may as well be dead. I would rather cry 100 times, and I have.

Now, what actually happened in this election? Let's start with...

THE BAD NEWS:

Democrats did not regain control of the Senate, at least not yet. Presidential polling was off in several states, most notably in Florida and Ohio, but polls of various Senate races missed the mark by an even wider margin. Polling told us Democrats would regain the majority with a few seats to spare, but what we know now tells us a lot of misguided voters split their votes between Joe Biden and Senate Republicans as if the latter is suppose to provide a check on the former. Democrats still have an opportunity to gain control of the Senate by winning two special elections in Georgia and, if you live in Georgia, I urge you to vote for Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock on or before January 5th, 2021.

Democrats also lost a handful of seats in the House of Representatives, but they primarily lost seats in pro-Trump districts that they won in 2018 when Trump was not on the ballot. The presidential election saw record-breaking turnout in many places, but that also included pro-Trump voters. I personally don't believe anyone should read too much into these loses right now because Donald Trump will never be on another ballot and it will be a long time before we know what a post-Trump GOP or the electorate in general will look like.

THE GOOD NEWS:

Well, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be the next president and vice president respectively. If Democrats do not regain control of the Senate in January, that will severely limit the possibility of passing significant legislation, but I personally had low expectations for that to begin with. The primary mission of the Biden administration, at least from my perspective, is to undo the damage of Trump. And although it would certainly help, Biden does not necessarily need a Senate majority to do that. The Republican party is not a governing party and that was true even when they held total control of the government. Tax cuts are the only significant legislation Republicans passed while Trump's biggest offenses against humanity and democracy were carried out through executives orders and discretion.

From Trump's fake border wall, to his Muslim ban, to the ban on transgender military service, to putting immigrant kids in cages, to exiting the Paris climate accord and abandoning the Iran nuclear deal, to his global trade war and everything in between; all of that was carried out by the White House alone and all of it can be undone by the White House.

Kamala Harris was my first choice in the Democratic primary and I'm glad that I still got to vote for her. She will be the first woman and first black woman to become vice president. I think she could be our next president.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

Trump is still flailing while his incompetent henchmen hold press conferences outside unfortunately-named landscaping companies, but he's done. With that said, he can still do plenty of damage over the next two months and I expect he will. I expect to see pardons, executive orders, and document shredding. I expect to see all of his policies upheld until the last possible minute. Nothing about this presidential transition will be normal. Nothing will be paused just because the incoming president requested it.

Personally, I have every intention of covering as much as I can here going forward. There may be some days over the next two months when there's not necessarily much to discuss as the holidays arrive and congressional action is sparse at best, but evil never sleeps. The coronavirus is out of control and there's no sign that we're going to do anything about it until January at the earliest.

I for one have no intention of engaging in a circular firing squad or litigating things before they've even happened. I am not engaging in speculative rumormongering about potential cabinet picks or ideological horse-trading. I don't care about that right now. I'm going to accept victory and live my life again to the extent that any of us can with an ongoing pandemic.

We all deserve an emotional break, even if it's short-lived. I plan to refocus on my transition and tackle some things I've been putting off until the election is behind us.

Regular coverage of things will resume here tomorrow.