After a turbulent US election campaign, students at the University gave their reaction to Joe Biden’s White House victory and Donald Trump’s refusal to concede.
Taylor Ogle, 23, from Florida, is studying for an MA in Journalism:
“The peaceful transition of power is a hallmark of American democracy. In a normal election cycle, the transition period is not something people would worry about. The most airtime the media might spend on it would be to broadcast the losing candidate’s concession speech or discuss the president-elect’s cabinet elections. However, 2020’s Presidential Race was a far cry from a normal election.
“For starters, over 150 million Americans voted in the election. This was the highest voter turnout in an American election in over a century. Rigorous campaigning and grassroots community organizers have motivated the American people to take their country back from a brutish force who denied climate change and ignored the pandemic.
“But that’s only one side of the story. While Donald Trump lost the popular vote to his opponent Joe Biden, he received nearly 71 million votes, smashing his 2016 record by almost 9 million.
“President Trump crying ‘fraud’ is nothing new. In fact, if he weren’t the sitting US President, it wouldn’t be newsworthy at all. It can be difficult to tell if the allegations of voter fraud are a masterful tactic to stir his supporters or if he is so much of a sore-loser that he is genuinely incapable of gracefully accepting his loss.
“It’s going to take a lot of work from Americans from all walks of life to see progress in the system. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris have their work cut out for them.
“I, alongside the 75 million Americans who voted for them, have placed a hopeful trust in a new administration – one that stands for the antithesis of the science-denying, hateful, and chaotic four years gone by.”
Claire Gelhaus, 19, from Wisconsin, is studying for a BA in Journalism:
“For a while I was preparing for another Trump term just for mental soundness as I didn’t want to be let down. I made sure my vote made it from Sheffield to home, and hoped for the best. So then when the results came out, my first reaction was relief.
“I’m happy Wisconsin turned blue but it wasn’t where I live that did that. It was key cities and Black women who got Biden in. We owe it to them. They saved the democrats. Trump relies on the racism of white America- the estimated 55% of white women who voted for him again.
“It gives you faith in the system, that maybe we can change something. Supporting grassroots organisations and holding elected local and national officials responsible is also important, but this is a huge victory.
“Overall this week was exhausting. The past four years have been exhausting. I’m relieved, and proud, and a little patriotic, and hopeful.
“I’m also angry, it shouldn’t be this close. It is embarrassing that so many Americans chose Trump again.
“Some snapshots from my election result night: calling my friends, some happy tears, ordering dessert, and listening to America the Beautiful. (and pretending the last few bonfire night fireworks are people celebrating with me) And maybe they were! The world feels a little kinder.”
Jamila Blair, 19, North America Society (NAS) President, is studying Biomedical Science:
“When I saw that Joe Biden was the president-elect, for the first time in three days, it felt like I could finally breathe again.
“I then went online and saw videos of people celebrating in the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan with singing, dancing, honking and more. After four years of waking up to a different news headline more disgusting and discouraging than the last, the election results felt like a win long overdue.
“What did not come as shock on the other hand, was Trump disgracing himself further as he claims voter fraud.
“The people have chosen. Although American democracy is far from infallible, what needs to be challenged instead of the count is voter suppression and all the subtle and not so subtle ways that it persists.
“While I am relieved that Biden was elected, it is by no means the time to become complacent.
“Trump’s presidency normalised threatening human rights, disregarding climate change, degrading marginalised groups, and overall poor character in politics.
“I hope to experience transparency in the way that Biden and other politicians address the deficiencies of our country – then we can talk about making it a better place.”
Charlotte Flores, 19, from New Mexico, is studying Philosophy and Politics:
“I was personally extremely relieved to hear that Trump was not reelected. However, I think getting Trump out of office is going to be a bit more complicated than it may have been in ‘normal’ election years.
“Unfortunately, in the US, the transfer of power is not immediate. Trump will still be in office for a few months and there is much that can still happen in that time.
“I think the closeness of this election as well as the division it caused points to deeper issues in American politics.
“A new President is not the solution to all our problems and it’s important to remember that going forward. I do hope this will be a turning point for the US and I hope it serves as a cautionary tale for US voters and politicians as well as other countries, however, it’s important to stay skeptical and look at the underlying issues that led to this situation.
“Of course, these accusations [of election fraud] are a huge threat to American democracy, but the legitimacy of them is not.
“America’s democratic system (in my personal opinion), was flawed far before this election year, this is simply an indicator of these larger issues.
“Trump’s impact on the US will most definitely leave residual damage and the backlash from the election results is already starting. This goes much deeper than politics. Ultimately Trump has given rise to and excused widespread hate, racism, and violence, empowering hate groups along the way.”