What Does Unity Mean in the Context of This Election?

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Photo courtesy of dallasnews.com

Post-election unity is what everyone has been talking about since president-elect Biden delivered his victory speech on the evening of November 7th. The need for people to come together has become the center of the conversation, often implying that the country is divided and unity is nowhere to be found. Though that isn’t the whole truth.

The fact that partisan politics have polarized people living in the U.S. doesn’t necessarily lead to the conclusion that unity is a rare, unreachable quality for U.S.-Americans. 

Activist, author, and civil rights attorney, Mónica Ramírez, talked to Belatina News about her definition of unity in the context of this election.

“Irrespective of the outcome of the election, if we really zoom out, I don’t think that there’s any better way to demonstrate what unity looks like than to think about the thousands and thousands of organizers in the lead-up to the election,” suggested Ramírez. “No matter what party they were for, no matter what candidate they were for, people were organizing themselves.”

Ramírez refers to the phone-bankers, canvassers, poll workers, and every person who helped mobilize their community to vote. People volunteered like never before during this past election season, and they worked together to make sure as many voices as possible were heard loud and clear. November 3rd was a successful day because democracy won. 

Texas broke their 1992 record by over five percentage points, despite restricting access to mail-in ballots. Early voting alone surpassed 2016 totals in the state. Turnout in Minnesota reached nearly 80%. Pennsylvania broke its 40-year record set in 2016 and jumped from a 63.6% turnout to a 70.8% turnout. With at least 160 million U.S.-Americans voting (73.7% of eligible voters), the United States witnessed the highest turnout rate among eligible voters since 1900.

Women of color are directly responsible for this. In Georgia, a place that surprisingly became a battleground state this year, there was a 69% increase in voter turnout among black women. Black women have historically voted in record numbers, and this year was no exception. 

In Wisconsin, Latinos more than doubled their early votes from 2016 (17,000) to 2020 (46,000), and 57% of those early votes are from Latinas. 

According to preliminary numbers from Catalist, a company that provides data and analytics to Democrats, working-class Latina voters cast more than 2.6 million early votes in battleground states in 2020, three times the number they cast in 2016.

However, to say this is just the U.S.-American’s reaction to experiencing “the most important election of our lives” would be a simplistic take. This is the result of the decades-long work of local organizers. They have been united under a common goal. Unity and love for their communities have been the propelling forces behind this election’s voter turnout numbers.

Ramírez argued that all of those actions were a demonstration of unity for democracy and the United States itself. She challenged people to reflect on the way U.S.-Americans united this past election and re-imagine a future where everyone continues to have that kind of energy, passion, enthusiasm, and creativity on a daily basis.

“It is really narrow and short-sighted to only think about unity in the context of who was elected or who was not elected. The truth is that we, community members, are the ones who are showing the strength of this nation every day – by getting up, by going to work, by continuing to care for one another during this COVID-19 crisis,” said Ramírez. “We need to continue to show up for one another, whether we are in an election period or not,” she emphasized.