Good Things About the Election

Donald Trump and Joe Biden
Julio Cortez/Patrick Semansky/AP

As I watched far too much cable television during the past week, I kept being reminded of the year 2000 and the contest between Governor George W. Bush and then Vice President Al Gore.

And the thing that struck me was not the similarities between the counting or the controversies in inspired but about how much has changed in our society in just 20 years.

No matter what television channel I watched, Black reporters and anchors were commonplace, as were women, as were gay and lesbians, as were men and women of virtually every nationality.

That just wasn’t true 20 years ago. Our networks had a smattering of reporters of color but white, middle-aged men were our trusted news sources. Today, Lester Holt, a black journalist, is the anchor of the NBC Nightly News and Nora O’Donnell, a woman, anchors the CBS Nightly News. ABC’s World News Tonight is anchored by David Muir, a single white man. The PBS Newshour is led by Judy Woodruff. Anderson Cooper, of CNN is gay, as is Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.

We all take this for granted. Twenty years ago, we all would have been astounded, even by a part of it.

In 2,000 a Black politician might aspire to being a Congressman or a Senator. In 2008, the nation elected – and, then, reelected Barrack Obama as President of the United States. In 2016 the Democratic Party nominated Hillary Clinton as its candidate for President.

And, last week, the United States of America elected Kamala Harris, a Black woman whose mother was from India and her father was from Jamaica, as vice president.

None of this was even conceivable in 2000.

But, do you know what else wasn’t conceivable twenty years ago?

President Donald J. Trump. Need I say more?

And President Trump fits into this narrative because the narrative is about the fundamental governing ideal of the United States. That ideal is that everyone should have a voice in determining the fate of the nation.

Trump received about 70 million votes in the election, the second highest number of votes in our history. It was exceeded only by the 75 million votes Joe Biden received.

I’m not sure exactly what that says about our people, but I’m pretty sure that many of those 70 million voted for the president because they felt he was giving them a voice, that the elites of the nation, both Democrat and Republican, were not listening.

And, whether you or I might agree or disagree about that, I don’t think we can argue that, in Donald J. Trump, many of them felt they were being heard.

So, despite all the tension and arguments and frightening headlines that has accompanied our society’s decision-making in the past two decades, I would argue that we are closer to meeting our country’s ideals today than we have ever been before.