This past month, the 2020 Presidential Election took place and most of the country sat in front of the nearest news source as we eagerly waited for the results. Saturday, November 7th was a day that many may have woken up to the sounds of cheering, singing, and honking. These public displays of happiness and hope scattered the country as for many, the Biden Harris victory symbolizes a return to political normalcy, and chance to redirect our priority to what is important. While this still stands, it has been unfortunate to see the alleged “fraud” claims that President Trump made before and post-election, as it is only creating a further divide between the American people.
For individuals who were unable to get to the polls this year for significant reasons, the top having to do with the ongoing national pandemic, mail in ballots were a valuable tool in allowing American voices to be heard during the election. However, President Trump was quick to point out his opinions on mail in ballots, voicing his distrust in them. Prior to the 2020 Presidential Election in early November, there were more than seventy comments made by President Trump in which he mentioned rigged elections and voter fraud. He had commented on how ballots had supposedly been mailed incorrectly, as well as addressed incorrectly, claiming that some were mailed to individuals who were even deceased. He continued to voice his frustration with mail in ballots and even urged his voters to watch over polling sites to find voter fraud. It seems that such comments have been influential in convincing many of a rigged election, which goes against and weakens our democracy as it stands already affected by a pandemic and consequential death count of over 250,000 people.
His inability to accept defeat to Joe Biden and his continuous claims of a fraudulent election, has only made citizens’ distrust in the election increase, as he continues to test our democracy. This has led to an increase in polarization and deeper division within Americans. In GBH’s How to Bridge the Partisan Divide, Laura Colarusso brings attention to how in the past couple of years, hostility, anger, and loathing have become driving motivation for voters, and this has resulted in momentous change in politics. Shanti Iyengar explains that while polarization can be explained as “ideological extremism” or sentiment in how one views everything based on their political party. He goes on to say that it is best measured through polling and comparing said polls across the years, and beginning in 1984, there has been a continuous steady increase in hostility seen towards the opposing political party. One thing that is interesting is that these polls did not find an increase in loyalty towards party as it is often seen that remain with their parties, but the increase in anger towards the opposing narrative is what tends to draw people.
This is something that can be seen in how the presidential election was campaigned for. Both candidates used current situations and the frustration associated with them, to anger and fuel viewers, targeting the opposing candidate to do so. This can also be seen through how the news reported on said current situations. Joanne Levine touches upon the role that media plays in informing people and reflecting the current state of society. With the increased number of sources thanks to social media, it has been positive in allowing many voices to be heard, but it has also created a blur in knowing what responsible and factual news is. With the current civil unrest and tension surrounding a variety of problems, it can be said that most voters made their decision based off what they believe our country’s biggest priorities are or should be. This shows how influential the media is as most people’s depiction of what America’s issues are come from the news they are exposed to. Thanks to outlets like Facebook, false information can be shared to millions of people within the click of a button.
As COVID increases to be a problem among other issues, it is important for us to hold an incentive to try to do better and work towards stability. While one unhappy with the election outcomes, it is important to remember that many citizens do not have the privilege of delaying further work to be done. For many healthcare workers and general citizens that have been affected by COVID, they have not felt prioritized nor supported by their government. It is time to focus on supporting states and hospitals with the necessary tools and laws needed to halt the further spread of COVID.
Levine, Joanne, et al. “How to Bridge the Partisan Divide.” Forum Network, WGBH, 19 Oct. 2020, forum-network.org/lectures/how-bridge-partisan-divide/.
(LSU), Louisiana State University. “Faculty.lsu.edu.” 2020 Election, faculty.lsu.edu/fakenews/elections/twenty.php.
“Climate Insights 2020: Partisan Divide.” Resources for the Future, www.rff.org/publications/reports/climateinsights2020-partisan-divide/.
“In a Politically Polarized Era, Sharp Divides in Both Partisan Coalitions.” Pew Research Center – U.S. Politics & Policy, Pew Research Center, 30 May 2020, www.pewresearch.org/politics/2019/12/17/in-a-politically-polarized-era-sharp-divides-in-both-partisan-coalitions/.
Spring, Marianna. “The Deep Roots of Trump’s ‘Voter Fraud’ Strategy.” BBC News, BBC, 23 Nov. 2020, www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-55009950.