Voting for Biden is like riding on a city bus. It may not take you exactly where you want to go, but it points you in the right direction. It gets you closer.
An entire wing of the Democratic Party, including many young people, want the party to be more progressive. They want the Green New Deal, affordable college, healthcare for all, to defund the police, and other actions that, until recently, seemed like a dream. But to save the nation from the worst impulses of Donald Trump, the party came together to elect a centrist Democrat.
Biden will be pulled in different directions. He is trying to repair the ideological divide between political parties, which has widened into a chasm over the last four years. He will be appealing across the aisle to unite the country, even as progressive Democrats demand more substantial reform. As advocates for a progressive agenda, we need to understand his dueling priorities. So let’s take a breath and think about what comes next.
First things first: we must get this pandemic under control. It has wreaked havoc on our nation, particularly in minority communities and underserved populations. Meaningful legislation will likely be difficult to enact while Americans continue to die and our economy continues to wither. Biden will — we hope — take steps to help us get back on our feet. Social distancing, a mask mandate and a stay-at-home order would help get this virus under control and give our country the strength it needs to move forward.
Then, the real work can begin. As we repair the damage the virus has done to our communities, we have the opportunity to push the United States into a more progressive posture. We can encourage the President and Vice President to immediately rejoin the Paris Agreement, take action to reduce carbon emissions, push for expanded healthcare coverage and work towards police reform. It’s an exciting time. Our protests may no longer fall on deaf ears. This week, we patched a hole in our ship. Now, we can start steering it further toward progress.
Eliot Klus, media columnist
WHEW. Last week was a ride. I am relieved to be free of refreshing poll numbers every five minutes and the anxiety of not knowing whether the next president, who is to lead the country through the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis, would be this guy or this guy. I took on the role of media columnist because it interests me and I spend a lot of time consuming media. This does not mean, however, that I enjoy it.
I think that nearly everybody’s relationship with the media has changed over the last four years. Trust in news media has wavered, but more people are engaged in politics than ever before. I know that I have paid more attention.
This has come with drawbacks. “Doomscrolling,” for example. When I woke up the day after the election, I immediately reached for my phone and spent, not kidding, an entire hour looking at poll data and Twitter hot takes (many thanks for asynchronous Wednesdays).
There’s a peculiar feeling doing this. I think of it as curiosity-driven existential dread. In my cynicism — another side effect of this media engagement — I am sure that the worst is coming, but want desperately to know precisely how and why.
And the thing is, that’s rational. My dread is existential because I am acutely aware that these results could be existential for myself and millions of other people. This stuff is important, and we should treat it as such.
Despite this, I think there is a better way to engage. It may now be my job to be addicted to reading articles and scrolling through Twitter, but it doesn’t have to be yours. Don’t disengage: what’s happening is still important. But maybe disable push notifications on your phone, or take a walk and leave it behind altogether. Take care of yourself — it does no good to get politically burnt-out when we have just started paying close attention.