The Election, All the Stakes, and How the Youth are Feeling
by Dayanara Almon and Fatra Hussein
Leading up to this election, and while watching yesterday, I was extremely nervous, hoping it wouldn’t be like the last election. Four years ago, I didn’t get to watch the election, but the next day woke up to some of the worst news I had ever heard in my life. My mother told me that Trump won, and I cried fearing what could happen to our country and to my family with him as president. She told me that “he isn’t our president.” Though in a way I tried to live with that mentality, sadly it just wasn’t the reality we were living in. I went to school and realized many of my peers, even my teachers, felt the exact same way as me. At the time, the only president I had really known was Barack Obama and I knew him in a very positive light. He was the first Black president, he had done great work as president for our country and more specifically for people in marginalized communities (BIPOCs, LGBTQIA+, and others). So, I couldn’t imagine going from that to the harsh reality we’ve lived these past four years. That is why this year I knew things needed to be different. But I could only hope that they would be.
My reaction to this election is like no other; my whole family sitting in the living room waiting for how and who their president will be for the next 4 years, sweaty palms, nervous and scared of what will happen next. When Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were running for presidency in 2016, I was 8 and begging my mom to get me a suitcase so I could move to my home country Ethiopia if Trump won (but I never left). These last four years came and left in a blink of an eye. While Donald Trump was trying to build the wall he wanted Mexico to pay for, I was seeing the world in a way I had never seen it– divided. Donald Trump tore us apart from our families, beliefs, and lives. I was 8 when I first saw the world as a hurtful place, but I felt like I also had a responsibility to fix the world and make it a better place not only for myself but for everyone around me.
“It is so wrong that everything is political. Wearing a mask is political. My body (women) is political. Human rights are political. Equal rights are political. It is so messed up and it isn’t hard to be a decent human being. Also, our planet is on the ballot. one candidate has a plan and acknowledges climate change. the other does not.” –Lucy M., 15, WeTheTeens Podcast Co-Creator
How is This Election Different?
As most of us already know, this election is very different from past elections. The stakes are high as we face all the barriers to the well-being of the country. COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting Black and Latino communities, along with multiple hate crimes towards Asian communities. This past summer there were many cases of police brutality and white supremacy that specifically targeted Black communities. This resulted in protests all across the country. These events have sparked conversations, especially among the youth, inspiring many to get involved and voice their opinions. The youth are looking for change and many of us know Trump won’t give us that. As a result, according to ABC News 101 million people voted early in the 2020 election, which is the highest voter turnout in the U.S. in over a century. Voter turnout amongst the Latino communities has also broken records. Last night Cecilia Vega (from ABC News Live) said, “We are seeing Latinos vote at higher rates in earlier voting than ever, with 32 million Latinos voting”. Based on this, some people expect the Latino vote to exceed the African American vote. Latinos are predicted to be the deciding vote in places like Pennsylvania (which has growing Latino populations) and Arizona. It’s exciting to see that counties in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas voted blue, the valley also has a big Latino population. A surprising change to many was also the possible swing of the typically red state of Arizona. From what we’ve watched, a lot of this has to do with Trump not being able to connect with the Senior citizen and Latino populations.
How Are the Youth Feeling?
With millions of ballots to be counted we’ve grown more nervous while still trying to stay patient. Though it’s hard, especially when there’s so much at stake. Many are scared of Trump winning and the possible aftermath. Watching the election but not being able to contribute to the polls has us feeling a bit annoyed but we are also grateful that at least the voter turnout in general was a lot better this year than last time. By watching this election the views of the people in this country have become very clear. The fact that so many people voted for Trump is really disappointing. When you vote for Trump you aren’t just voting for the Republican party, you’re voting for a racist, sexist, and homophobic person. Based on his job performance in the last four years, he’s shown he really doesn’t care about the country as a whole, and when you’re President the country’s well-being should always be on your mind. Trump has enabled other racists, sexists, and homophobes. That’s why people like him and think it’s okay to vote for him. So, when we hear about Trump wanting to stop voting in states where so far he’s winning it reminds us: he does not play by the rules even when it’s what the people want. Throughout and leading up to the election we really hoped for change, and were also curious to see how other people are feeling. Here’s what they said (some other quotes are also spread out through this blog, make sure to take it in, THIS is how the youth are feeling):
“After this election we will continue to be faced with these many issues that have been implemented in the United States’ system. With that, during these four years we have seen how these various Americans feel about these policies that have greatly affected minorities during this presidency which have been created by white men in the early days and even the present days of our nation. We will never be United until we evaluate why we are divided.” –Erin H.,15, EmpoweringOurMelanin Podcast Co-Creator
“The terrifying part is that this isn't just an election. These votes will change everything, and the only thing we can do is sit and watch it happen on a screen.”-Molly H., 12
“[I] hope that Biden wins, to pick up America , our economy and communities; to pick up and fix the damage Trump has made to the LGBTQ+ community, the Muslim community and more people who have been hurt by Trump's presidency.” –Nora L.,13
“Right now, I’m feeling stressed and impatient about the election. It’s heartbreaking to see how close Biden and Trump are in the race right now and how deeply divided this country is. Because everyone who voted for Trump is declaring that his xenophobic, racist and sexist beliefs and stances are acceptable for a U.S. president, and they probably have the same beliefs as he does. So, to see so many people to vote for a president who so obviously does not care for marginalized groups and the unity of this country is saddening.” –Eden B.,15
“Well I feel scared and on edge. There are way too many things at stake, too much to lose. Also feeling kind of relieved at the same time as I can [see] Biden's vote moving up. But hey anything can happen still so I'm just waiting anxiously...” –Tamara,14
Taking Care of Yourself and Using Your Voice
The election is not over yet, it’s very close between Biden and Trump. So, we want to remind everyone to take care of yourself. You may be feeling Election stress, or stress related to COVID-19. Whatever it may be, find those moments or methods to check in with yourselves and others.
Finally, use your voice. I hope everyone who was eligible to vote in this election voted. Your vote is your voice. Yes, we are a representative democracy but don’t use that or the electoral college as an excuse not to vote. Remember, you can choose your representatives by voting. Voting doesn’t end after the Presidential Election, voting for your local leaders is also very important. You can also use your voice in other ways like learning and educating others about important issues around you. Many people are using social platforms, podcast platforms, writing, and blogs (like the one you are reading) to share their opinions. EmpoweringOurMelanin has a podcast coming out this month, other amazing podcast creators include Thomas vs The World, WeTheTeens, and more.
For those that struggle with anxiety, depression, and mental health issues, or just are having a hard time with the election, some things we suggest that help are: to breath everyday deeply (especially if you feel heavy hearted), drink cold water, or dance to your favorite music. For those who are just drained of energy we suggest: listen to soft music (whatever you prefer) and lay down, try and block out the world but not too much. If you feel like there's lots on your mind go vent to communities online, or just to family and friends. Something we ask is please don't keep things bottled up inside because that can cause anxiety attacks and mental breakdown. Stay safe!
Header image: wiredforlego (CC license)