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What I’ve learned from the 2020 election cycle

| Monday, November 9, 2020

As of Saturday, Nov. 7, Joe Biden is the new president-elect and Kamala Harris is the new vice president-elect. This is the first time a sitting president has lost reelection since George H. W. Bush in 1992, putting Trump on the short list of one-term presidents in the history of the United States. 

This election cycle, I worked on a congressional campaign in my home state of Nevada, working to reelect a Democrat in Republican district. Our race was called shortly after the presidential race, making Rep. Susie Lee the first ever Democrat reelected in NV-03. I couldn’t help but feel a massive sense of pride and joy with both of these wins, months of work had finally paid off. But this cycle is so much more than just races won — it’s about lessons we’ve learned. So, as I reflect on my first foray into electoral politics, I want to share some thoughts. 

1. Everyone comes from somewhere.

To touch on a recent column by one of my best friends, the only way we can succeed in creating a successful democracy is to recognize that everyone’s beliefs come from somewhere just as important as our own. As much as we all want to believe that we have the right ideas for the future, those across the aisle from us have the same level of confidence in their beliefs. We can’t find progress when we refuse to have humility in discussions. While I could go into a whole spiel about this topic, I would recommend reading Ellie’s column for a far more nuanced and detailed approach on this.  

2. Credit must be given where due.

This presidential cycle saw Georgia turn blue for the first time since 1992. While questions of how this happened are floating around cable news, the answer is clear: voters of color flipped this historically Republican state. This victory is due to the people of color who have been organizing their communities and getting out the vote for the last decade. This victory was not won by the Democrat establishment targeting of white moderates, but rather by community leaders focusing on communities of color that have long been ignored by establishment politics. Stacey Abrams has received credit for this flip in the media, but the movement goes beyond her, with organizers of color working to get voters to the polls at a level of turnout almost never seen before. These organizations have been working in Georgia for nearly a decade, and this year’s election is a testament to their hard work. We must remember the part that people of color have played in this election. 

3. Communities of color are the future of the Democratic party.

Building off my last point, communities of color are responsible for some of the biggest moments of this election. As I previously mentioned, Georgia’s flip can be credited to Black voters. Arizona turning blue can be credited to the Native voters in the state turning out at record numbers. Michigan’s blue wave can be credited to the Black community in Detroit. In Nevada, the presidential election — and the race I worked on — was decided by the Asian and Latino communities. As the U.S. grows more diverse in the coming years, we must recognize the power that these communities hold and the work that they have done. Too often, politicians focus on capturing the “white suburbs” or moderate-swing voters, while ignoring the growing power of communities of color. Communities of AAPI, Latino, Black, Native voters hold power and influence at a level never seen before, and their power has to be acknowledged. This cycle has shown us the power of organizing in these communities, and shown us what the future of the Democratic party looks like.

4. Democracy is never done.

To quote John Lewis, “Democracy is not a state. It is an act.” Even now, with a new president-elect, the work of democracy is never finished. Fighting for a future that provides for all Americans is a struggle that will always continue, no matter who is in charge. Democracy requires a constant vigilance by the people and constant effort to listen to each other and find solutions for our nation. We must work together to build a more perfect union. America must be a country for all, not just the majority. So now, with a new president, let’s move forward with our democracy and continue to fight for an America that represents all Americans.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Nelisha Silva

Originally from Las Vegas, Nevada, Nelisha currently serves as an Assistant Managing Editor for The Observer. Previously, she served as Viewpoint Editor. You can usually find her reading books, doing crosswords or talking about being from Vegas.

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