Eaton: A dream no longer deferred

The Biden-Harris ticket is historic but so are America’s divisions.

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Emily Eaton

As a child, I dreamed of one day being the President of the United States. On the occasions in elementary school that I was brave enough to voice this hope out loud, I was nearly always shot down with some sneering remark about how, as a girl, I was immediately disqualified from ever holding such a powerful position.

On Saturday night, I sat on my couch and cried as the first female vice president in the history of our nation stood on stage and told young girls everywhere to dream, and dream ambitiously. Kamala Harris’ story is one of firsts. She is the daughter of immigrants, the first Asian American elected to the vice presidency, the first Black vice president-elect, the first graduate of a historically Black college and the first member of a Black sorority to hold that office. I celebrate her ascension and all of the boundaries it breaks.

But, I will still hold her and President-elect Joe Biden accountable. For many young adults, voting for the Biden-Harris ticket was not a welcome choice but a necessary one. An Instagram account, @SettleforBiden, garnered over 290,000 followers pushing people to vote for the lesser of two evils. The fight did not end with the election. Too often, there seems to be a divide between the average voter and the people who represent them. We feel as though we have no control over the actions of politicians, and voting seems like a shot in the dark. You pick the candidate you hope dearly will do the least harm and pray to whomever that the promises made to you are upheld.

As a nation, we came together and denied President Donald Trump a second term in office. This is a reminder that as constituents, we are not playing cards to be collected and kept. Our power is in our hands. We choose who leads us, who represents our values and who holds the image of America that we want manifested. That power does not disappear after the ballot boxes have gone away.

We may have entered a time of healing, but America’s wounds have deepened over the last four years. We continue to live through an onslaught of systemic discrimination, racism, sexism, ableism, xenophobia and countless other afflictions. Neither Biden nor Harris have clean records — career politicians rarely do. But, we face a turning point in American politics, and it is not a return to normalcy. “Normal,” in the American sense of the word, is no longer acceptable. Instead, we move forward to an America that we can speak of with pride. An America in which we do not allow politicians to turn their backs as Black men are killed in our streets, as children are separated from families and kept in cages, as hundreds of thousands die preventable COVID-related deaths.

Democracy is a double-edged sword. In an ideal world, it is representative; but representation necessitates participation. The election of 2020 will go down in history for many reasons, one of which is the highest rates of voter turnout since at least 1900. When we raise our voice, the noise is too deafening to ever be silenced.

Keep yelling. Keep tweeting. Keep up with politics, even if it’s just at the local level. Local governance has far more power than we tend to acknowledge. Call out the politicians who make choices you don’t agree with, and show up for those who keep their promises. You put them in office. If they don’t show up for you and what you believe in, you have the power to take them out.