Joe Biden is officially the president-elect for the umpteenth time. The day it was first announced Biden will become the 46th U.S. president, I went down to Frederick Douglass Circle in Harlem, New York, to witness the dancing and celebration. I asked some people what they were most excited about. The resounding sentiment was that the extreme toxicity of the last four years was over. Within my circles, the general attitude holds: politics can be boring again. Under a Biden administration, there’s no fear of incompetence and instability.
The country is going back to normal. It's going back to business as usual.
Biden ran on that very premise. That Trump was an anomaly. A mistake in what was once a predictable political matrix. That idea, that nostalgia of yesteryear, undergirded his campaign from the onset. This yearning for normalcy, amid a pandemic, is what turned people out in historic numbers. Because common decency became the most touted classification for the highest office in the land.
The real 'normals' in our country
People were not jubilant about this victory because they were excited about a Biden and Harris term. The 80 million people who voted for the ticket were ready for a government reset and really voted against the revolting, vile reign of Trump, not for Biden specifically. Back to the days where a civil and prudent person held the office: a semblance of order Americans and Washington are accustomed to. A time when people can wake up in the morning and not be concerned about a president’s tweet.
But, let’s not kid ourselves, nothing has ever been normal in the United States of America. When were we even ever united? Harsh realities permeate marginalized communities under normal. Police brutality isn’t going anywhere and was no better under Obama or Bush. In the past six years, over 2,300 Black and Hispanic people have been fatally shot by police.
What about the food insecurity sweeping the nation at alarming rates, disproportionately impacting Black and Brown communities? It was only deepened by COVID-19, which also affects marginalized groups more. Where millions have enrolled for the supplemental nutrition assistance program, and most are now relying on food banks for the first time in their lives to feed their families. Food insecurity isn’t new. It’s long impacted those disenfranchised communities under business-as-usual-America. All of which were exacerbated by the declining economy under a mishandled pandemic.
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A Pew study found that in a three-month period from February to May, the unemployment rate was higher than the two years of the Great Recession. It rose from 6.2 million to 14 million, with people of color and immigrants seeing higher unemployment rates. Most states hit their historical unemployment highs this year alone, with some states, such as Nevada, reaching a high of 30.1%
Racial division is normal in America
Let’s look at another normal. The torrent of class and racial divisions that continue to widen, disproportionately impacting BIPOC, Hispanics, and immigrants. In one breath the Kyle Rittenhouses of the world are hailed as murderous heroes of blatant white supremacy. In another, the Kalief Browders are penalized and stripped of their humanity, a result of existing while Black in America.
So, brokering in the nostalgia of Obama's hope and change — an ideological America of equity that does not exist — Biden’s campaign of getting back to business as usual is nothing to rejoice over. That polarized political environment inhabited by the likes of Harris and Biden, with their political baggage and past, is what got Trump and his autocratic and populist views into the White House in the first place.
Trump will be gone from the people's house come Jan. 20, but partisanship could worsen with Trumpism pervading the GOP — along with the 73 million Americans who cast their vote for him. And though Biden may embody that solace of the ordinary and the possibility of a calmer, reach-across-the-aisle political climate, there remains no path on how we get there. We may be headed towards a more fragmented society. One in which the American system — but not all Americans — can thrive.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Normal' is not as good as everyone thinks