Yes, We Should’ve Been Worried

I think most people can agree that the days following the 2020 election day were stressful. I usually peg myself as a moderate. However, I have grown deeply passionate about certain issues that need to be addressed (COVID-19, climate change, systemic racism, etc.), and our current president is not getting the job done. Thus, I knew that the outcome of this election mattered, and anxiety kicked in until Pennsylvania finally declared its victor. 

To feed into my stress beforehand, I constantly checked my phone, as evidenced by my screen time going up by 72%, and I gave up concentrating on just about everything that wasn’t election updates. Was this healthy? Probably not. But was it understandable? I would argue yes. I know I wasn’t alone in my constant worrying, as many of my friends and family members shared my feeling of tension and concern. But something else added to my stress that wasn’t the looming paper deadline or the reading I was falling behind on in my class. It was the amount of people that seemed to not care.

I know a few people personally (and a few people that know a lot of people) who had this indifferent mindset. Maybe this group of people did care to an extent. But I heard, and have heard about, a couple of “life goes on,” “it’s just another president,” and “whatever happens, things will be fine” statements. And frankly, this annoyed me. True, life goes on, and sure, we’ve survived forty-five presidents so far. But these statements suggest that things will be fine no matter what and that if you’re worried about the outcome of the election, you shouldn’t be. To this, I’d say: check your privilege.

The amount of impact a presidency makes on society is absolutely anything but trivial.

There is immense privilege in not caring about the outcome of the election because this demonstrates that, regardless of who wins, your life will be largely unaffected. But the amount of impact a presidency makes on society is absolutely anything but trivial. I know Joe Biden and Kamala Harris aren’t perfect, and you can bet that I’m double-crossing my fingers that they follow through with important initiatives. Donald Trump has failed to adequately address the devastating pandemic, encouraged white supremacy, and—to point towards something that will affect everyone—greatly ignored the problem of climate change and the further inevitable destruction that will come if no action is taken against it. After all of Trump’s missteps and lack of leadership, I’d say it’s time for someone else to head the country. 

If your life would’ve carried on peacefully and normally no matter who would’ve won the election, that’s great—for you. What about people who are scared to be pulled over by the police or the families separated at the border? If you have the opportunity to have a satisfactory education, access to proper healthcare and birth control, or the ability to get married to the love of your life no matter who becomes elected president, that’s great—for you. But for those to whom this applies, I urge you to think about people whose lives aren’t this privileged. Because while you might be fine no matter who wins the election, others aren’t so fortunate to have this unstressed aura. This presidential election mattered, and yes, we should’ve been worried.