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Monday, November 30, 2020

Celebrate then roll up those sleeves

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It was touch and go for a while, but former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris pulled through for the win.

Americans all over the nation celebrated after Biden was named the presumptive winner of the 2020 presidential election. Of course, everyone didn’t share in this joy. President Donald Trump and many of his supporters are ignoring the results, questioning the legitimacy of the election. Trump and his cronies are actually suing states in an effort to invalidate Biden as the winner. I find it rather telling that ballots in favor of Trump are legal and those against him are suspect. Also, what will be done to those Republicans who won their races in states where Trump lost? Those are legitimate wins, but that’s not the case for Biden?

The saga continues.

As America is watching the drama unfold of will Trump concede or won’t he, will he leave the White House or won’t he, another GOP-led, long-running epic continues: the attack on the Affordable Care Act, which provides health care for more than 20 million Americans. (Full disclosure: my health care is through the ACA.) Attorneys general from several states, including our very own Curtis Hill, are petitioning the Supreme Court to dismantle the ACA, also known as Obamacare. The ACA, the signature policy of President Barack Obama, came on the scene 10 years ago, and has been a target for Republicans ever since. 

This is, in fact, the third challenge to the ACA. The first came in 2012 and the second in 2015. Trump has appointed three justices to the Supreme Court, and he expects they will side with him on the ACA as well as election results. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Statements from Supreme Court justices lead many to think the ACA is safe.  

Not only is it troublesome that Republicans continuously attack this health care law, but they’ve never given a clear replacement. Maybe their plan actually is better, no one knows. The ACA isn’t perfect, but it’s tone deaf to take away health insurance for millions of Americans without a better plan. It’s unconscionable to even continue this lawsuit during a pandemic. Do Republicans not care about their constituents? The more than 20 million people using the ACA aren’t all Democrats, nor are all they all Black or Latinx. And, why do voters keep electing politicians whose priority is ending Obamacare?

I recently wrote the work doesn’t end on Election Day — it’s just beginning. 

We should celebrate the historic win of Kamala Harris as she checks off a long list of firsts. We should celebrate the Biden victory, but after celebrating we need to get to work. Many voters found the Biden-Harris ticket problematic, but chose them over Trump. We shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking Biden and Harris will create policy for Black people off general principle. We need to make the politicians we voted for — and those we didn’t — hear our voices and know what we want and don’t. For too long we’ve offered the quid without expecting the pro quo.

We also need to recognize Biden and Harris can only do so much if Congress is made up of Republicans dead set on squashing every policy they try to implement. 

I was heartened when I read an article that Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, penned a letter to Biden and Harris letting them know Black people showed up and showed out for you and now you owe us. She requested a meeting with them to “discuss the expectations that we have for your administration and the commitments that must be made to Black people.” Love her or hate her, Cullors is already holding Biden and Harris accountable.

We all need to take notes and channel that power and treat our local elected officials in the same way. We need to see who is for and against our interests and vote accordingly. Another election is around the corner, and we don’t need to wait until a month before Election Day to start thinking about who should get our votes.

Politicians aren’t waiting until Election Day. They’re in office devising ways to stay in power through gerrymandering, voter suppression and corporate backing. We need to start being just as strategic with our vote — especially if we want Biden and Harris to create policies that specifically benefit Black people. We have to stop being apathetic and thinking we’re powerless. We are the people.

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