As I write this, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the president- and vice president-elect. She is the first woman, second person of color, first Black person and first Indian person elected to the vice presidency.
We saw record-breaking turnout as a nation and a state. Washington likely had at least one million more people vote than ever before.
I think we are witnessing a major shift in our voting patterns as a result of incredible grassroots organizing.
We are witnessing a change in the makeup of our elected officials. The largest number of LGBTQ individuals were elected/re-elected to the U.S. Congress, and a significant number were elected to state and local positions. There will be 134 women serving in the U.S. Congress; 48 are women of color, which means that for the first time in history, women will make up 25% of the Congress.
Four states — New Jersey, South Dakota, Montana and Arizona — voted to legalize marijuana possession or use. Oregon became the first state to legalize the recreational use of drugs harder than marijuana, including cocaine, heroin, oxycodone and methamphetamines. The legalization of drugs leads to a decrease in over-policing and over-incarceration, particularly of communities of color, even though studies show white people are more likely to use drugs.
Sixty percent of Floridians, despite extreme voter disenfranchisement, voted to increase their $8.56/hour minimum wage to $15/hour.
Of these states, South Dakota, Montana and Florida voted for Mr. Trump, which shows that important ideas that improve peoples lived experiences are increasingly nonpartisan. This is significantly due to local activism and movements like the Black Lives Matter movement, which has amplified how important local politics are in our everyday lives.
Locally, Washingtonians upheld a law passed by our legislature requiring mandatory sex education, joining 29 other states with similar laws.
Washington advocates also won a very important state Supreme Court decision that found excluding dairy workers from overtime pay violates Washington’s constitutional protections for employees working in especially dangerous industries.
I disagree with the punditry that people got out in this election primarily to defeat Mr. Trump. People are demanding that the government solve systemic problems. People will not give up simply because one symptom of the problems of our system was voted out.
We have seen possibilities at the highest levels of public office and at federal and state positions. Voters are changing the laws through initiatives their legislators refuse to pass, or affirming laws that are passed and challenged. This energy isn’t about any one person, no matter how captivating he is. This energy will keep showing up at the polls and in the streets.
Read more of the Nov. 18-24, 2020 issue.