How do You Feel About the Election?
How do you feel about the election? Six Interviews with Democrats and Republicans
Twenty-four years ago, I was living in Washington D.C. while studying at the University of Maryland. I came back to…
Announcer Voice 0:14
Welcome to Back in America, the podcast!
Stanislas Berteloot 0:23
I’m your host, Stan Berteloot. Twenty-four years ago, I was living in Washington, D.C. and studying at the University of Maryland. In August 2016, I came back to America, this time with my family. It was just a few months before Trump’s election, I noticed how the country had changed. I believe that two major crises have determined the shape of what the country is today: the terrorist attack on 9/11 and the subprime economic crisis of 2008.
Then came Trump, a man loved by half the country for being an anti-elite, playing tough and speaking his mind, and hated by the other half for pretty much the same reasons. Trump has polarized America and the world at large, pushing ever further what we thought was possible in the political sphere: lies and mediocrity being the new normal.
For you now, with this podcast Back in America, I have been exploring and questioning what is America’s culture, values and identity?
In every episode, I’ve asked my guests, what is America to them? Quite often, they say that America is a story or an idea in the making. By many standards, the 2020 election, are historical and will once again, help shape what America is. Amid the pandemic, the foreign interferences, the mistrust in the democratic voting process, and now, the legal attacks against Biden’s victory, I have asked Americans what they thought of the outcome of the elections. Here they are:
Jake Hoffman 2:29
Right now, the results of the election are not fully called yet. We have Biden leading in all of these states. But, Trump has the right to legally challenge the states that are in question right now. Right now. I think that we’re preparing for a Biden presidency. He is leading, but Trump has the right to challenge and it’s not over until there’s final decisions in the courts.
Stanislas Berteloot 2:56
Jack Hoffman is 29 years old. He’s the president of the Tampa Bay Young Republicans.
Jake Hoffman 3:03
We knew that mail-in voting was going to be a problem. We knew that this was going to cause chaos when Pennsylvania was allowing people to vote after the election in counting votes three days after, not counting until election day… the chaos was written on the wall. Donald Trump was declared the loser around the country for a week now, and over 70 million people voted for Donald Trump. There was not one case of looting, not one case of rioting, no protests other than flag wavings/marches. Nothing violent happened in this country when Donald Trump was declared a loser. If Donald Trump is, for some reason, declared the winner in the courts in a few months or in a month, then you will see riots again. You will see protests. You will see all of the anarchy that the left has when they don’t get their way. *musical interlude*
Mark Charles 4:20
I will agree with almost everyone else in the country. When Joe Biden was called as the winner, this past weekend, of the 2020 election, I breathed a sigh of relief. *Introduces himself in Diné bizaad* Within our Navajo culture, when we introduce ourselves, we always give our four clans. I refer to myself as a dual citizen of the United States and the Navajo Nation, and I ran as an independent candidate for President of the United States in the 2020 election. For the last four years, our nation has been in a space of turmoil, where we had a president who had tremendous narcissistic tendencies, was adamant about doing things in his own interest and in keeping himself in the center of every dialogue. He was either the hero or the victim of every single interaction he was a part of. And he did things in a very chaotic, haphazard manner. And that led to a lot of chaos and a lot of uncertainty, and a lot of people were feeling very uneasy towards the end of his first term in office. And so most Americans, I think, when he was elected and voted out of office, breathed a sigh of relief, because it looks like this phase is going to come to an end.
However, what troubled me and what I looked at a lot of us, there was also this euphoric reaction to our nation, not only removing President Trump, but electing Joe Biden. And the challenge with that is Joe Biden’s election is not euphoric. Removing President Trump might be euphoric, electing Joe Biden, someone who has promised to maintain the status quo, someone who has absolutely said, “I’m not going to do with things at a systemic level,” that doesn’t deserve a euphoric response, in my opinion. Now, I think having someone like, Vice President-Elect Harris, as not only a woman but a woman of color, now elected to be Vice President of the United States, that’s something I’m actually very pleased we did as a nation.
But, when you look closely at her legacy, especially as the Attorney General in California, where Joe Biden had a very heavy hand in shaping the Crime Bill in 1994 that exacerbated the mass incarceration of people of color, Harris in California, was enforcing that Crime Bill that had the response of putting a lot of people of color into prison. And so when I actually looked closely at her legacy as attorney general, both towards people of color as well as towards natives, as much as I see she wants to be at the table, to see some of these changes ushered in, I also saw that there’s this tendency that she’s not willing to be that disruptive at the table, to usher in these changes. Which now made perfect sense why Joe Biden selected her as his vice-presidential running mate because she didn’t have not demonstrated a very large propensity to address these things in a heavy-handed way while she’s sitting at that table.
Key things that President Elect Biden did throughout the campaign, and especially later in the campaign is he would change our foundational document to fit his narrative. So he frequently would misquote, the Declaration of Independence. And he would say, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal.” Now, it’s nice and inclusive that he added the phrase “and women.” But that’s not what the Declaration of Independence says. And so, by not acknowledging what’s actually written in the document, you don’t have the ability to really change it or even to address it. And so when they use the phrasing of we the people, and they want that to include everybody, that’s not acknowledging how our Constitution was written and how it’s used today. And so this is the problem you have with the two-party system because they are so supported and funded by white landowning men who do not want to deal with their genocidal and colonial pasts. They try to skirt over these systemic and justices and dehumanization is ever written into our foundations. And they just say things like, well, we the people now includes everybody, which is categorically false. And so this is where a lot of politicians will use the term we the people, but they really don’t mean to include everybody. And, even if they want to include everybody, they’re not willing to do the work to make it include everybody. We had a 100-day plan for our first 100 days in office to remove the racist, the sexist, and the white supremacist language from our Constitution. We had a plan to actually remove the clause from the 13th Amendment and abolish slavery. We had a plan to deal with these systemic problems in our foundations, rather than just deal with them at higher levels, which is changing policies or addressing different laws. We were talking, from the beginning of this election, we have to address these at a foundational level. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have any interest in addressing these things at the foundational level.
Stanislas Berteloot 10:26
Then I called Richard Heinberg, a senior fellow at the Post-Carbon Institute, a nonprofit think tank located on the West Coast, dealing with the climate and energy. I’ve asked him how he felt about the election:
Richard Heinberg 10:42
Certainly more hopeful than has been the case during the last four years. How much will actually be accomplished, as of course, is still to be seen, and largely depends on the results of the two senatorial races that are still yet to be decided with runoffs in December in Georgia. If the Democrats can take both of those seats and gain control of the Senate, then there’s the possibility for some really significant legislation, something like the Green New Deal. On the other hand, if the Republicans remain in charge in the Senate, then very little legislation that’s meaningful is likely to pass either on the climate front or on a whole range of other issues. And what’s likely in that case is that President Biden will have to do whatever he can through regulation and presidential executive orders. And some things can happen that way. Clearly, the parts of the Executive Branch that were responsible for dealing with measuring climate change or issuing regulations, all of those have just been gutted. During the Trump administration, the EPA, National Ocean Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)–all of all of these agencies– have just been kneecapped. So, getting rid of Trump’s political appointees and putting back in sensible, trained scientists to head these agencies will help enormously. But that only gets us back to where we were in 2016. And, of course, the climate crisis is moving onward, whether we move or not, so we’re going to have to do a lot better than that. The fact that the election went to Biden and Harris and the fact that they actually had a decisive victory, and this hasn’t really been explained, I think adequately or properly to the American people. I mean, when all the votes were counted, Biden and Harris probably ended up getting something like 7 million more votes than Trump. And that’s, that’s very substantial; that’s a mandate. And the same with the Electoral College, it wasn’t just a little squeaky victory, it was, you know, a good size controversial Electoral College.
Stanislas Berteloot 13:53
I really wanted to hear from David Treibs, a Christian and gun activist, one of my previous guests. Unfortunately, we were not able to schedule a call, though David was kind enough to send me a recording of his statement on the election. Here we go:
Hey, Stan, this is David. Here’s my statement. And I’m going to read it just because I want to make sure I have it right. So, I strongly believe that there were millions of fraudulent ballots cast for Biden, and I also believe electronic votes were altered, many of them, probably millions. And this is a communist coup. The media, which has been trying to overthrow Trump for the last four years, is creating an illusion that now Biden is president. But that’s all it is. It’s just an illusion. After all, the left is the party of Hollywood, the masters of illusion. The acceptance speech and all that stuff are designed to manipulate people into believing that the Biden presidency is inevitable and that it’s already been accepted when nothing further could be from the truth. They’ve already been preconditioning the country to accept the possibility that they will violently remove Trump from office, or at least, are going to try. And they are trying to make it seem legitimate. Trying to make it seem like Trump is the one who is in error. And I have every intention of being part of those who are going to stop all this mess.
Stanislas Berteloot 15:30
Civil rights protests and Black Lives Matter have been in the backdrop during the entire Trump administration. I called Chivona Renee Newsome, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Greater New York.
Chivona Renee Newsome 15:46
And let’s be quite frank about it: for most Democratic voters, most people in this new civil rights movement that we are in the midst of, Biden and Miss Harris, Vice President-Elect, were not ideal candidates. But, we knew that Donald Trump’s tyranny must come to an end. As a black woman, I’m excited to see a woman of color, the first woman actually, take that seat. I just know that our strategies have to adjust; that’s what we’re working on right now. Because we are still demanding the same things we did during the Trump administration, as well as the Obama administration. And we have a sympathetic ear right now, as the world can see it as an embarrassment to America that Donald Trump was a blatant white supremacist and racist. So, I’m hopeful and I’m very optimistic. I have no choice but to be! I look forward to hopefully working for this administration, and getting laws passed to protect Black people in America. The vision for the presidency, is someone who unites this country. I think that’s the first step for the Biden-Harris Administration because America has always been a racist place ever since its inception, from the way indigenous people were treated to the way my ancestors were brought over here as a commodity. So, the first step for the presidency will be uniting America, changing how we appear on the world stage, and then getting to work. When everyone’s on the campaign trail, and I’ve been on the campaign trail before–I’ve run for office–people make a lot of promises, they have a lot of ideals and values that they’re promising to get passed into law. I just want laws that would benefit my people, I want them to be written. I hope that Biden and Harris can unify Congress. And if they cannot, I would love some executive orders. Donald Trump had no problem giving his base what they wanted. And I hope that Black women especially are not forgotten in this administration. Because the numbers do not lie. We played a huge role in this election, as we always do in every democratic election. I have to work with the cards that I’ve been dealt. So these are two people who are making promises to move forward. I see the Kamala has stuck to her word and didn’t go back on the death penalty. I know that since she’s run for president, she’s been talking about police reform. just hope that people live up to their promises. And it’s my job as well as activists as well as all Americans to hold them accountable.
Stanislas Berteloot 18:15
I knew that she and I had been invited to a very important event in France, an event called the Napoleons. The Napoleons is an annual international event taking place in France. This year, it will be in Val D’Isère. This movement is supporting technological, social, political, and entrepreneurial innovation.
Chivona Renee Newsome 18:37
I am completely honored. I got the invitation about two weeks ago. So January 12–13. I will be in France, and the topic of discussion is emancipation and what does that mean for the past and present. So I’m very excited and honored. The 2017 speaker was Barack Obama, who have you guys have had some pretty impressive shoes to fill. So for a woman from the Bronx, a black woman from America to be invited over, I’m extremely pleased. The first time I went to Paris, it was my high school graduation present, so I have this love for the French.
Majid Padellan 19:26
When the news finally broke, and I was actually watching CNN. I was watching Wolf Blitzer at the time. And he said, we are announcing that Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States. I let out a scream. I was elated. I ran around the house. I told my son and my daughter and my wife, and then I jumped online. I have a live show I do every day. It’s called Storytime with BDD. And I usually only do it Monday through Friday, but this was a special occasion so I jumped on a stream and I told all of my followers: “This is it this is happening!” Wow, wow… it was amazing because I have literally been fighting for this for the past four years.
Stanislas Berteloot 20:19
Majid Padellan, also known as BrooklynDad Defiant, has over 751,000 followers on Twitter.
Majid Padellan 20:28
There’s a saying that says: “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” And, you know, there’s no such thing as a perfect candidate. This there is not. Even President Obama had his shortcomings, and we adored him. You know, Joe Biden–I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again–Joe Biden was not my first or second, or even third choice, you know. But it turned out that he was the man for this moment, that after the trauma, and it literally was trauma that a large majority of the nation experienced over the past four years. You have a guy who is lying to you on a daily basis. If I were to tell you… Stan, if you and I were like buddies, hanging out, co-workers or whatever, and every day I told you a lie that was an obvious disprovable lie, you would start to resent me. And then eventually be like, you know what, Majid just don’t! Please, just don’t. But we had no choice. This is a guy who was in our living rooms on a daily basis and was telling obnoxious and in some instances, dangerous, lies.
Stanislas Berteloot 21:44
Thank you for listening. Remember to check the episode notes for further information about the guests, links to their social and online profiles, and also a link to this episode’s transcript. Once again, I want to thank, Jake Hoffman, Mark Charles, Richard Heinberg, David Triebs, Chivona Renee Newsome, and Majid Padellan for making themselves available for this episode. Some of the interviews have been recorded live and you will find them on our YouTube channel. Remember to visit BackinAmericathepodcast.com and to register for our newsletter. Thank you!