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U.S. elections: this isn’t just Biden or Harris’ win

After some nail-biting days of waiting for the voting results, it is clear that voters fired the lying, homophobic, climate change denying, misogynistic, white supremacist in the White House. Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States and Kamala Harris will be the first woman of colour to be elected Vice-President. The past few days, and probably the upcoming months, the world will still be talking about this historic presidential race. Although this is an important win, beyond that, there are so many more victories to be celebrated. It is these victories that show that the United States isn’t about to go back to the status quo, but instead is ready to fight for change. These wins show that ultimately it’s not those in office or the president but people and movements who have the power to change things for the better.

 

Change is in the progressive politics that will become reality, thanks to campaigners and organisers in the streets. In Florida for example, more than 6 million people voted to raise the minimum wage to $15. That is more votes than Trump or Biden got in the state. Colorado voted persuasively for one of the most progressive family and medical leave programs: a program run by the state which provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave. Moreover, several states like Arizona, New Jersey, Montana and South Dakota legalized marijuana. In Oregon, drug possession is decriminalized. Arizona increased taxes on the rich to fund education.

Change is in the progressive representatives who will return to Congress. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Presley, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib held their seats! Moreover, the squad has grown. Progressives like Deb Haaland, Sharice Davids (the first two Native Americans elected to Congress), Katie Porter and Veronica Escobar will return to Congress. Other progressives like Cori Bush, Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones and Marie Newman will join them fighting for progress from Congress in their first terms. These people will be fighting for BLM, for womxns' rights, for a real Green New Deal. They will be ready to challenge the moderates and the right wingers who are more concerned about their own status than fighting for climate and social justice—for things that matter to people.

Change is in the election of so many people of colour, LGBTQIA+ and womxn. Representation matters. Kamala Harris will be the first woman of colour to be elected Vice President. Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres are the first openly gay Black men to be elected to Congress. This trend continues in other election races all over the United States. Look at the election of Mauree Turner for state house in Oklahoma’s 88th district. Mauree is both the first non-binary legislator ever and the first Muslim legislator in Oklahoma state. Or in the election of Sarah McBride who will be the nation’s first person who publicly identifies as transgender to serve as state Senator. 

This was only possible thanks to mass (youth) movements, activists and campaigners working so hard the past few months and years to get people registered, make sure they vote and make sure all ballots are counted.They are the basis of this victory. If Joe Biden has broken the record for popular votes for president, this is largely thanks to the brave people who were committed for change, even in times of COVID-19 and voter suppression. Black women* were on the ground, fighting voter suppression in Black communities, registering people to vote. They continued even when they received death threats and brought Biden his win in Philadelphia and Georgia. People like Stacey Abrams and other organisers that fought to get out the vote have been paramount. From across the Atlantic, we are inspired by and celebrate their efforts.

Biden’s and Harris’ win is important. There is enough reason to celebrate, enough reasons to catch a breath. But let’s be clear that this is not just their win. It is the win of womxn, LGBTI, youth and Black and People of Colour. Biden and Harris are standing on the shoulders of millions of people who want and work for progress.

This election once again showed us people want to tax the rich, have a living income, universal health care, stricter gun control, independent courts, action on climate change, citizenship for immigrants or very simply: liberty and justice for all.

Therefore the work is not yet done. If anything, this is only the start. We need to keep organising for the change we want to see, for the world we need. And for that, we need to work together, from both sides of the Atlantic. We are in this together. Let’s take a deep breath, let’s celebrate this win and then continue to work to change the system and fight for a better planet.