By Maiya Mahoney
Former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris defeated President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the 2020 Presidential Election. The election results took longer this year because of the high number of mail-in ballots due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While President Trump continues to challenge the results, the race has been called by The Associated Press and many other reputable news organizations.
Voter turnout for the 2020 election was the highest it has been in nearly 100 years, with nearly 65 percent of the voting-eligible population casting a ballot.
President-elect Biden breaks the record for the most votes ever casted for a U.S. presidential candidate with 78,662,927 votes, as of Nov. 15, 2020 according to the Associated Press. Harris also made history as she is the first woman elected to be vice president, as well as the first African American and South-Asian American to have this role.
History was made during the 2020 presidential election, and as a Democrat returns to the White House in 2021, Flagler College juniors Julia Corrie, Rory Thompson and Gracie Gianoukos reflected on the election, prominent issues and what’s to come now that Biden is the president-elect.
Julia Corrie: “A Win for 2020.”
In the spring of 2019, junior Julia Corrie went to her first Florida College Democrats conference. Corrie was surrounded by so many people her age that cared about politics and making change at the local and national level. Being in an environment with like-minded individuals, fueled Corrie’s passion for change.
President of the Flagler Democrats and Northern Regional Director for Florida Democrats, Corrie voted for President-Elect Joe Biden in the 2020 Presidential Election.
“Since this was my first presidential election and I really started following politics after Trump was elected in 2016, I knew that even if my personal beliefs and political opinions didn’t 100 perect align with Biden; I knew it was going to be between Trump and Biden and I didn’t want to vote third party or do a write-in,” Corrie said. “I ended up really looking into Biden’s policies and right after he was said to be the nominee, that’s when I started campaigning for him to win the election.”
Now that Biden is the President-Elect, Corrie believes it to be a win for 2020.
“I am honestly so happy because it is a win that is finally coming out of the election and out of 2020,” Corrie said. “I think Biden will move with his supporters… and because there are so many people in the Democratic party that are behind him and supporting him it’s really going to move in a good direction, especially into the next presidential cycle as well.”
For Corrie, the most prominent issues are the climate crisis, women’s rights, minority rights, as well as health care. She believes Biden and his team have thought out plans for what she cares about.
“We’ve been given this power and this opportunity to vote and I think that if you’re eligible to vote you definitely should because there are so many issues that directly affect your life and well-being,” Corrie said. “I don’t think enough young people realize that voting is so important to how you live your life. I think that has definitely changed in 2020.”
Moving forward, Corrie wants to promote initiatives on campus like sustainability and civic engagement, while still using social media as a platform for promoting change.
Rory Thompson: “I don’t want to be another hashtag.”
In 2012, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year old African American was fatally shot a few hours away at the time from junior Rory Thompson. Being a young black male, The Black Lives Matter movement is close to Thompson’s heart as he navigates being Flagler’s Black Student Union President.
“I feel that for a lot of black boys we saw Trayvon Martin in ourselves,” Thompson said. “I would hope that my life matters. I don’t want to be another hashtag or another name on a wall or mural.”
As President of Flagler’s Black Student Union, Thompson says that his main goals are to lead and work with administrators to bring awareness to the issues black people go through on a daily basis.
“I try to create a safe haven for black students, while educating those who don’t know much about black issues,” Thompson said. “Even though we talk about issues like white supremacy at our meetings, it’s only one day out of the week. This is college; it’s the perfect time to educate yourself.”
In regards to the 2020 presidential election, Thompson is happy Joe Biden won, even though he was not his first choice. However, Thompson trusts the Democratic Party.
“I’m pretty happy Biden won, but am disappointed that 71 million people did vote for Trump,” Thompson said. “I am glad though that the voter turnout was so big because it shows that if you put in work to get more people to vote, more people will vote.”
Now that Biden is the President-Elect, Thompson believes that the pandemic is the first issue that needs to be addressed.
“First thing is to figure out the pandemic. I’m trying to go back to the movie theaters and see the next Marvel movie,” Thompson said. “Aside from selfish reasons, the pandemic is not controlled and hasn’t been controlled.”
Along with controlling the pandemic, Thompson wants to see changes in police reform, while advocating for diversity and inclusion.
“While Kamala Harris might not be the best person for police reform, she understands the system,” Thompson said. “We are not going to be able to move forward as a human race if we don’t treat everyone equally. How are we supposed to grow as a country if we don’t acknowledge what’s going on?”
To bring awareness to issues that are important to us, Thompson encourages others to continue to vote.
“A lot of people think voting is not important,” Thompson said. “People might not always represent us in the way we want to be represented. If you want change and want to see somebody get elected, voting is the easiest way to do that.”
Gracie Gianoukos: “Your vote is your voice.”
Around the age of 16, junior Gracie Gianoukos attended her first Black Lives Matter protest. Growing up in Charleston, SC, Gianoukos felt the impact of the Emanuel 9 shooting that took the lives of nine African American people during a Bible study.
“To see incidents like that in which people were hating others for the color of their skin made me so angry,” Gianoukos said. “It fueled my passion to fight for black lives and any lives at risk, while using my platform for all forms of activism.”
Unification is the direction Gianoukos would like to see the country move in with Joe Biden as the president-elect.
“I want everyone to be unified and seen as American people, not Trump supporters or Biden supporters. I want us all to agree to disagree on our political beliefs and progress together. America is now healing,” Gianoukos said.
In terms of policies, Gianoukos feels she aligns with Biden and can appreciate his climate policies, his pandemic response, gun control policies, healthcare and immigration policies, along with his support for LGBTQI+ individuals.
“I want us to be added back to the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization. I also want to see Biden take a strong initiative on the coronavirus pandemic,” Gianoukos said. “By doing so, it is going to help the economy. We can’t just sit and wait for the pandemic to end.”
Despite these issues, Gianoukos is more so worried about the country coming together.
“We just can’t continue to be red and blue or Trump and Biden. We can’t continue to be against one another because that is not what America is about. We are supposed to work together for all people, not just a marginalized group of people. We all deserve to be equally protected and seen,” Gianoukos said.
Gianoukos feels Joe Biden and Kamala Harris coming into office can bring this sense of unity again to the country.
“I feel a sense of relief and that we can now start progressing. However, change is not going to come right away. We still have to use our voices,” Gianoukos said.
With Kamala Harris as the first woman and first African American and South-Asian American woman to be vice president of The United States, Gianoukos believes this to be a monumental moment in history.
“For little girls at home who get to look up to a woman in office is the most powerful thing,” Gianoukos said. “We need to break down that stereotype of only men being in political office. As a country, we have to do this to prove equality.”
Breaking down barriers and challenging the status quo seem to be important goals for Gianoukos, as she continues to be active on social media for what she believes in.
“The way we learn things as children is internalized. Don’t be afraid to reach out and push political affiliations,” Gianoukos said. “Formulate your own opinion, teach important parts of history, remember that hate is taught, and that your vote is your voice.”
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