Students and teachers reflect on the 2020 election in real time

Students+and+teachers+reflect+on+the+2020+election+in+real+time

Photos courtesy of Myles Bell, Sophie Reeves, Patricia Braaten, Naomi Rea, Michele Bollinger, Aaron Besser, and wilsonhs.org; collage created by Fiona FitzSimons

Myles Bell, Aaron Besser, Michele Bollinger, Patricia Braaten, Natasha Everett, Kimberly Martin, Naomi Rea, and Sophie Reeves 

Since pre-election season in 2015, The Beacon published more than 80 articles written by students who have critiqued, bashed, questioned, analyzed, and debated the policies of the most controversial president of our lifetime. This past Tuesday, November 3, four students, three social studies teachers, and one principal spent the evening with their eyes glued to the polls, watching as their fate slowly unraveled. Below is a snapshot of their thoughts.

 

Student Perspectives:

Patricia Braaten 

7pm- I have CNN on the TV screen; I didn’t feel anxious all day until now. It was very obvious Trump would have the most votes in Republican states such as Indiana and Kentucky. I still felt optimistic about this presidential race. There was no way people could still cheer for the man who let over 200,000 people die from a pandemic. Near the end of the hour, Trump was still in the lead but this was just a few electoral votes from some states. This didn’t stop me and my family from being anxious about the election during this hour. 

 

8pm- Texas was turning blue at first but they traditionally went back to being red. This is literally such a nerve racking feeling. I have two sources on while watching the voting polls, Yahoo and CNN. This is indeed confusing, watching the electoral votes and everything. I don’t know which source to rely on, but what I know is that this is a competitive race and both of the candidates have always been on the lead for different states, it changes like every couple of minutes. All of the votes for every state haven’t been fully estimated but this has been intensely crazy so far. 

 

9pm- Biden has won DC but it didn’t surprise me since DC has been a blue state. Each candidate has been competitive for the total of electoral votes, but Biden has been in the lead. The west coast hasn’t given us any poll updates yet but I know for sure that California and Washington would be giving blue electoral votes which gives Biden a chance to win. This event has been really stressful even though some states haven’t gotten a full result of this election. If Trump won, the next upcoming four years of my life are gonna be a disaster and I’m absolutely terrified because I’m a minority and a POC, which affects me and my family. Biden is a hope for the future and he makes sure that he will get what Americans want because our lives are at stakes right now.

 

Naomi Rea

7:00

Neutral. My thoughts are neutral. This could easily go either way. I turn on my TV to CNN. Immediately, the newscasters start reviewing the electoral map, starting with Georgia, Indiana, and Florida. Things aren’t looking too great. Already, they’ve declared that Trump has won Indiana with 11 electoral votes. It would be very good if Biden wins Texas or Florida. Everyone I’ve talked to the past couple days thinks Biden would win by a landslide, but right now I’m not so sure. Personally, I don’t believe the electoral college is the best way to get a final say of who is president. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over two million. I think that’s the direction we should head in, even if it seems impossible to do. I take a break to wait until the next hour, hoping the incoming state votes will be blue.

 

8:00

The polls closed in the East Coast states. The people I’m with don’t want to watch, but I continue. I flip the channel to MSNBC. I was a bit worried at first, but I feel like there has been a bit of weight taken off my shoulders. The map reviewer is a little more energetic, and it looks like Biden is winning North Carolina. It’s currently 52 to 42, Biden. As I talk via social media to other people my age, they are all feeling the same as me: anxious. This vote is very very important. On the TV, I watch the physical votes get rolled in, by poll workers, to be checked. I really wish I were 16 so I could have been a poll worker. It would have been such a cool job. Newsflash. I get excited. But it’s just Arkansas, too early to call. It is very interesting to see the electoral college votes this year, compared to 2016. The more I’m watching, I realize the control of the Senate is hugely important, because if Biden wins, the Republican Senate can still block everything he wants to do.

 

9:00

The midwest closes at 9:00. It’s close, but Trump is in the lead. It isn’t like a sports game where you can automatically see the score. This is an election; it factors in the electoral college, and waiting. Lots of waiting. Almost all states that close at nine are undecided. Frustrating. Minutes later I see that almost every state that closed at nine, and was undecided, voted for Trump. South Dakota, Utah, and North Dakota. Reports start to come in that Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania will not even begin to count their mail-in-ballots until tomorrow. I soon realized that this election is different from the last. Because of the abundance of early and online voters, it may take until Friday to really know the final votes. I decided to go to bed, hoping tomorrow will have better news.

 

Sophie Reeves 

7- I’m watching CNN. Trump’s propaganda is getting to me, he clearly doesn’t understand that ballots can be counted after November 3. It’s stressful to look at the electoral map and see Trump in the lead (although barely ANY states have information released). Of course, there’s no way to have an opinion on the polls, everything is so unclear at this point. I’m feeling okay, I’m trying to ignore Trump’s fear-mongering. I spent today working at the polls here in Pennsylvania, so I feel connected to the results of this state’s election and I’m concerned about the transfer of power.

 

8- I feel so apprehensive, wow! With the first few updates in and a couple of states having their electoral votes, so far, Biden seems to be doing pretty well. It’s Florida that’s bothering me right now. The results that are coming in are confusing and somewhat unexpected, with Miami underperforming slightly but rural places overperforming with Democrats in the lead. Everyone seems very on edge about Florida, and even though Biden can win without it, it’s still so terrifying. It seems like people are trying to stay as confident as possible about the Midwest.

 

9- Things are starting to feel bad. Nothing in the battleground states seems to be going great for Biden, and I feel so on edge. I don’t know what to think, to be honest. Texas is currently up in the air, it keeps switching between red and blue and it’s very strange. I know that we likely won’t know until tomorrow, maybe even the next couple of days, but it just seems like things are going downhill and Biden might have to get lucky for things to get a lot better for him. I’m worried about North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Florida, mostly.

 

10- Reporters are discussing how the pathway to Trump winning is getting easier and easier. I’m reminded of 2016 and the false hope that the polls have engendered in the past couple of months. I’m terrified to think of what could happen if Trump wins. It looks like Colorado and possibly North Carolina could go to Biden, and NC feels like it could be promising. The general consensus seems to be that we truly won’t know for a while who is ahead in many of the swing states. High voter turnout is a plus, though.

 

11- All the major news sources are discussing how the results of the election won’t be in by tonight. I knew this already, but it’s a tough feeling because I would love to get this all over with soon. There are a lot of questions about how late ballots can be accepted, and what legal issues we may run into. There is still a Biden lean, according to many news sources, but it’s tightening, and people seem worried. Michigan reporters are saying that votes will likely be in by tomorrow, Wednesday, November 5, because there were less problems with ballots than initially thought.

 

Myles Bell

7:45 – ish 

When I thought about what exactly was being asked of me, my first reaction was that the request is almost poetic. The Black, non-binary, gay person frantically documenting the construction of their own coffin. Even as I write this, I wonder if I will still be hunched over this notepad when the final nail is hammered in. My mind is flashing through what the night could become. My body nestled in the corner of my couch, watching as the all white diagram of the United States that every news channel is  broadcasting shifted from a few squares of red and blue to a little more red than I would appreciate. I play over the situation in my mind, as the map would flood with crimson and panic would set in as I document the victory of white supremacy in real-time, how I would send in my thoughts to a this very newspaper where the white students and faculty would, undoubtedly, voyeuristically scan my words, feeding off my fear. I would then receive a flood of messages on Instagram from white kids I have never spoken to apologizing to me, telling me just how sorry they are that I exist without protection, while simultaneously doing nothing to protect me. But I don’t think the night is going to end up like that. I hope not. 

 

Currently 10 PM. The map looks almost identical to 2016. It’s way too close for my liking. Let me go turn off my Instagram notifications. Goodnight. 

 

Teacher Perspectives:

Ms. Bollinger

8:26 pm

As I sit here watching news coverage, I keep thinking about all of the struggles of the past four years that have caused people pain and heartbreak. I am also thinking about ways in which people have come together in the pursuit of justice. Right now it is very early in the evening, so it is difficult to say how tonight will play out. My own hope is, to paraphrase Dr. King, that the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. That road is not often clear and right now it can seem endless, but hope is powerful. I am also reminded of the old saying that all politics is local – meaning that one of the best things we can do for the world is figure out how to create justice in our own backyard; to notice what needs to be changed around us and focus on that.

 

Mr. Besser

8:50 PM 

The biggest thing I keep reminding myself is that we are not going to go to bed knowing who the next president is, and we won’t know for a few more days. And that is just going to have to be okay. Right now, I’m thinking about two things:

1 – Yes, the presidency is important, but I’m also very interested in our local DC elections. We have 24 candidates running for just two city council seats, which is just crazy. Remember how much power and influence local government has on our lives. DC Council is involved heavily in DCPS, for example, as well as our city’s COVID responses and approaches.

2 – I read an article earlier today that discussed how Joe Biden is less of a dominant figure running for president and more the embodiment of the Democratic Party. It just got me thinking – we look at President Trump as a personality running a party and determining its stances, not the other way around. This raises a good question about political leadership: Should a leader have more control in shaping their political base or should the base have more influence on shaping the leader?

 

Ms. Everett

10:25 PM 

My GOD! I can barely type anything I’m so on edge. As a Black American looking at the electoral map 30 minutes prior to polls closing out west, I’m sad and outraged. I feel so hurt to have to face the fact that I have love for a country that clearly does not love a person like me.

 

Ms. Martin

10:47 PM 

I’m overwhelmed. I’m in NC right now with friends and family, and the back and forth regarding these results is just painful. Our country is so divided, and I’m not feeling very hopeful that it will be repaired after these results are finalized.