Let’s start off with a collective sigh.
Election Day is over. This round of voting is over. I’m closing tabs on my computer and deleting notes on my phone with titles like “GOTV plan” and “CarlDems/Sunrise To-Do.” I’m ripping off sticky notes that say VOTE from my dorm room door. And I’m celebrating, just a little bit, because a lot of the work did get done. We kept Minnesota blue, by a big margin. We re-elected Senator Tina Smith and State Representative Todd Lippert and Congresswoman Angie Craig, if just barely. And when I say “we,” I mean Carls. Our precinct’s turnout was high, almost as high as in 2018, even with 500 fewer students on campus. Those votes mattered. Thank you.
But in so many other ways, my sigh is one of exhaustion and exasperation, disappointment and disillusionment. Democrats should have won big this year, and they didn’t. They did not flip the Minnesota State Senate, and Jon Olson lost to state Senator Rich Draheim in Carleton’s district of SD20. They did not flip the national Senate. They even lost seats in the House.
And then: the presidency. As of writing this, it seems that Joe Biden is poised to win. But it has been so close. Carleton campus has been holding its breath since Tuesday night, reloading the New York Times and counting off states and skipping class out of pure anxiety. This is not how it should have been. Not after scandal upon scandal. Not after an impeachment. Not after a massive racial reckoning and a climate awakening and countless gun violence protests, where we—the young people of this country—have demanded change again and again and again, and the majority of American people have finally supported it. Not after a pandemic that the president knowingly lied about and mismanaged so badly that over 234,000 Americans have died. After four years of Trump, Joe Biden should have won in a landslide.
It is time to wake up, people. Trumpism is not dead; that much is clear. The Democratic Party failed to deliver the death sentence that fascism deserves, and Trump supporters will continue hatefully vying for power over the four years to come. It is time to take a long look at this country’s far-right, and its weak Democratic leadership, and its electoral college, and its blatant voter intimidation and suppression and disenfranchisement, and say: not anymore. Things have to change.
That starts now. We cannot let Trump declare a false victory in the election and prevent votes from being counted, votes like the early and mail-in ballots that many Carls cast. There is a battle ahead of us, and we need every one of us to tell the world that we will count every vote.
Every day at 4:30, Sunrise Carleton has been protesting against Trump’s attempts to undermine democracy in conjunction with the Protect the Results coalition. Sunrise will also lead a March for a Just and Liveable Future on Saturday, November 7, where we will demand climate action from whomever the new administration may be. You can sign up for one of multiple small, COVID-safe demonstrations at https://www.mobilize.us/sunrisemovement/event/361034/.
Election Day may be over, but the work is not. If Democrats lose the Senate and win only a slim presidential victory, then power—the power to achieve true racial justice, to pass meaningful climate legislation, to restructure the courts and our democracy itself—remains in the hands of the people. And when I say “people,” I mean us.
It’s going to be a long four years, folks. Get ready to join the fight.
Correction: due to a copyediting error, the last two sentences of this piece were omitted in our print edition. The mistake has been remedied in the online version.