This year, we are not just living history; we are battling to be on the right side of it. The denouement to this tumultuous era in American history came Saturday morning in the form of President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory over the incumbent President Donald Trump.
On a warm, November day, Cornellians heralded the defeat of Trump. Students flooded the streets of Collegetown and central campus to celebrate. Many gathered on their porches and lawns, and others paraded across campus in a motor brigade so long that it brought traffic to a halt. As the sound of honks and chimes filled the air, we witnessed a victory for democracy and a victory for America; the result of record voter turnout; the ascendancy of the first Black and American-Indian woman to the nation’s second highest office.
While this victory was and should be celebrated, our campus needs to remember that the coming change of administration does not solve the problems that our country faces. We should hold on to every positive moment we can in a time like this, but it is of paramount importance to remember that the battle to redefine our nation has just begun.
This election — as noted by many, including the president of the Cornell Republicans in a letter to The Sun — has created a deep divide between the citizens of our country. After all, many Cornellians did not celebrate in the streets over President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory. This group is not limited to conservatives; many progressives felt alienated by this cycle’s electoral politics as well.
On a national scale, while Biden may have received the largest tally of votes for any U.S. Presidential Candidate in history, Trump received the second most. Although progressives played a crucial role in deciding this election, some are concerned that their hopes will be forgotten in the Biden era. And in the words of Dave Chappelle, the election of Biden doesn’t make America feel any safer for marginalized people in this country.
Our duty now, liberals and conservatives together, is to pursue policy that benefits society as a whole.
As Biden reminded us during his victory speech, this is only possible when we “give each other a chance.” We must firstly begin our campus’ healing process; the past four years have sowed unimaginable discord, leaving many fearful of voicing their opinions or unwilling to listen to opposing points of view. One shouldn’t have to subscribe to a particular political ideology to have their voice heard. Use these last few weeks on campus this semester to have difficult conversations with one another. There will be a new president come January, and those conversations will only become harder to have.
Cornell was founded on the principle of diversity of thought — we have a unique opportunity to move past partisan boundaries.
Working to separate partisanship from morality on campus will enable us to address systemic injustice on a national level. While Biden’s victory is a good place to start, policy change doesn’t come without effective local organization. Cornellians have a unique opportunity to affect change. We live in a country with an undeniably broken policing system that manifests itself in our own city. A pandemic is ravaging the United States, claiming more than 200,000 lives in the process. With no swift executive action, followed by pointed, nonpartisan legislature, our country will continue to plunge itself deeper into climate disaster. Now is not the time to allow petty fiscal differences prevent us from agreeing that the lives of our peers are worth fighting for.
It’s going to be nice to lay our heads down at night knowing that our next president will not disseminate mass misinformation. It’s going to be nice to hear a president say Black Lives Matter. It’s going to be nice to unfollow Trump on Twitter (if you haven’t done so already). So enjoy the celebration; it has been hard earned. But don’t allow your relief to blind you. We cannot afford complacency. Use the hope that is pervading campus to spark a new fight for justice. And, most importantly, don’t forget to support each other in this transition. It’s time to go to work, because we finally have a fighting chance to make life in America better.
The above editorial reflects the opinions of The Cornell Daily Sun. Editorials are penned collaboratively between the Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editor and Opinion Editor, in consultation with additional Sun editors and staffers. The Sun’s editorials are independent of its news coverage, other columnists and advertisers.