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Five Herald Columnists reflect on an Election Week like no other

One week after Election Day Nov. 3, and three days since former Vice President Joe Biden was projected winner of the 2020 presidential election by main television networks and the Associated Press, five Herald columnists weighed in on what this election means and how we move forward.

Caleb Apple '21:

This election was an underwhelming performance from Democrats. Even though Biden, barring substantial changes in the coming weeks, has won the Electoral College and the popular vote, it is clear that Trumpism was not repudiated in the slightest. A failure to take the Senate (notwithstanding two Georgia runoffs in January), will likely lead to two years of gridlock, with Republicans blocking Democrats from enacting significant domestic policy. Perhaps most importantly, Democrats failed to flip many state legislatures going into redistricting, a portent of another difficult 10 years ahead. While many maligned Biden’s status as the nominee, he ran ahead of most of his down-ballot peers, suggesting that not only was he the best Democratic candidate to win this election, but that many who disavow Trump are perfectly fine voting for Republicans down the rest of the ballot, an intriguing note as we look at the future of the Republican party.

Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit '21:

Now is the time to hold Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and all of our elected leaders accountable. Americans should unite behind our next president and vice president, but it does not mean that we become complacent. This election has shown all of us, regardless of how we voted, what it means to fight for our democracy. The election is over, but the democratic process is not; all Americans should be fighting to defend democracy every single day. We need to demand action from our elected officials at all levels. And when they do not fulfill their promises to the voters or act in ways that are unbecoming of their office, it is our duty to recall them, impeach them or vote them out. As a nation, we have many challenges that we will need to fight together. We are out of time. We need action now.

Beth Pollard '21:

As Brown students, we tend to lean toward critique instead of celebration. Sitting with my COVID isolation pod watching Harris’ and Biden’s speeches, we rolled our eyes as the rally’s jumbotron screens triumphantly announced that the American people had chosen “empathy,” “science” and “truth.” For those of us who want more than what the Democrats have offered recently, Biden’s victory celebrates that the American people have chosen the bare minimum. But we have to start somewhere in order to rebuild faith in this country, and to do so, we need the audacity to hope that this really is a turning point in American history.

Andrew Reed '21:

Tuesday may turn out to be one of the most confounding elections in modern history, partly because the polls were so wrong — but not for the reasons many people thought. Trump supporters have been warning for months about shy Trump voters not accounted for by the polls. This election pretty well debunked that theory. Susan Collins had not led in a single poll since July. She’s going to win her race by nine points. But does anyone really think there are shy Collins voters? All this means is that there’s something more deeply wrong with pollsters’ methodologies. And what’s most troubling is that it seems the polling bias was the same as existed in 2016 (and in 2018). Pollsters are going to face a reckoning over the next few years. They need to figure this out. In the meantime, Americans — including myself — need to be a lot less credulous when it comes to the polls. And remember: Always to vote like the polls are wrong — because they very well could be.

Matt Walsh '23:

I had always assumed that, despite intense polarization, the United States' long democratic tradition meant that voters' commitment to democracy would supersede almost any other policy issue. But this election revealed that that's not true, at least not anymore. Since the summer, Trump and the Republicans have flouted our democratic norms and institutions, yet it wasn't a dealbreaker for over 70 million voters. And as Trump lies through his teeth and attempts to undermine the integrity of the election, many of his supporters remain by his side. Meanwhile, most establishment Republicans have been radio silent. That's scary. I can't help but worry about the permanent damage he's done to our democratic norms.


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