We don’t know the results of this election, and we are not going to know anything solidly for another day or so. There’s going to be a few recounts in the coming weeks, and not all of them will be because Trump can’t take a loss. On Thursday afternoon, the difference between votes for Trump and votes for Biden in Georgia was just 0.3%. This race is closer than anyone on either side of the aisle is comfortable with and both campaigns are going to fight to ensure every vote is counted correctly—or not at all.
What we do know so far is that Black voters leaned blue and white women leaned red. These two groups, disenfranchised less than one hundred years ago, can map two very different stories in this country. One, paralleling the record voter turnout and record number of voters for any presidential candidate ever, is a story of necessity and survival. The other is a story we’ve heard a thousand times over rooted in patriarchal misogyny that just happens to benefit white women enough that they fail to recognize their own oppression.
The first story, that of Black voters voting to save their lives and their communities in the middle of a pandemic, had the power to turn states blue. For example, the voter turnout in the Detroit area was higher than 2016, according to NBC News. Two things contributed to a large, Democrat-leaning voter turnout this year: 1. same day registration in Michigan for the first time and 2. the massive amount of absentee voting. While more Black voters voted for Trump than in 2016, more still voted for Biden.
The turnout of Black voters speaks to the disillusionment that Trump has caused across the country, as well as a different sort of Democratic candidate. In 2020 voters were still playing the “lesser-of-two-evils” game that accompanied 2016, but this time Joe Biden and Kamala Harris presented as moderate candidates. Neither of them had huge scandals throughout their career and the minor ones that have occurred have not been brought to the forefront of media. A deadly pandemic that has seen its highest daily number of cases yet during Election Week doesn’t help the Trump cause either. People are looking for change. People are looking for a different kind of leadership, and Black voters took action.
The second story, however, is much sadder. White women voted for Trump in large numbers. Again. In fact, according to CNN, white women voting for Trump increased by 3 points between 2016 and 2020. This can probably be contributed to higher voter turnout again. However, it tells a larger story of privilege.
White women have notoriously been able to hide their own oppression and even suppress it from themselves under the guise that white men will save them and make the right decisions. However, this is wildly inaccurate, and it makes white women participants in the ongoing oppression of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks who don’t have the same fall back of presumed protection. White women live in a veil of privilege that they refuse to see through, and that veil is violent.
Many voters made assumptions about this presidential race, but what we actually learned is just how willing some groups are to ignore violence and oppression, while others are voting to survive. The pandemic should be encouraging voters to ignore bipartisan lines and vote for change. White supremacy, racism, and the pandemic are affecting all of us, and when some people choose not to vote for change they’re voting for violence.