Students celebrate rebuke of Trump, cautious of Biden’s centrism


James Pollard/The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern students celebrate from a balcony at E2 Apartments. When news broke Saturday morning that Joe Biden had beaten Donald Trump, many students cheered.

Daisy Conant and James Pollard

After over four days of ballot counting, Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump on Saturday, prompting horn honkings throughout Evanston and student celebrations during the unusually warm November weekend.

Late Saturday morning, news stations projected a Biden win in Pennsylvania, handing the former vice president the necessary electoral votes to take the presidential race. Cheers rang from apartments throughout Evanston, with some students blasting YG and Nipsey Hussle’s “FDT (F–k Donald Trump)” and others popping champagne.

In a speech on Saturday evening, the President-elect emphasized it is “time to heal in America.”

“For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple of times myself,” said Biden, who ran for president in 1988 and 2008. “But now, let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again.”

The President-elect was introduced by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, whose victory marks several notable firsts for the nation. When she is inaugurated in January, Harris will be the first female vice president, as well as the first Black and South Asian person to hold the office.

“It really hit me on Saturday that this election is going to be one of the most historic elections in US history,” Pamela Chen, the director of public relations for Political Union, said. “It was a repudiation of the entire Trump presidency… It’s been a good week, even though it took a while to get here.”

The election call came on the 48-year anniversary of Biden’s first election to the Senate, which would propel the Scranton, Pennsylvania native to a 36-year career representing Delaware in the upper chamber — an experience he will bring with him to the White House this January, when he has repeatedly suggested Republicans will return to the negotiating table after the chaos of the Trump regime.

Despite the red mirage of in-person Election Day votes, Biden took the lead in several key states as more mail-in ballots were counted, allowing Adam Downing, the programming director for NU College Democrats, to breathe a sigh of relief. Although the Weinberg senior said he was confident Biden would secure the presidency, Saturday morning’s news was still thrilling.

“I did run outside and bang pots and pans when I heard,” Downing said. “It was amazing — and amazing probably doesn’t do it justice. It feels like this nightmare that we’ve been living in as a country for the last four years has finally come to an end.”

Downing said he and Democratic students at Northwestern “firmly believed” Trump was both a bad president and the wrong president for the country, noting they predict Biden can “take the country in the right direction.”

While student Democrats expressed relief and jubilation Saturday morning, NU College Republicans were feeling differing levels of disappointment and “wronged anger,” said Ryan Abbott, the group’s secretary of public relations. The McCormick junior stressed that although the group is “OK with a Biden presidency,” many members are wary of the media’s call of the presidential race, as the Electoral College will not officially meet and declare a victor until December.

“Some people were more emotional about it than others, but no one was particularly off their rocker,” Abbott said. “It was more just, ‘Well, this isn’t good. What the heck is happening?’”

Abbott added that if Biden is sworn in, he doesn’t “have much confidence at all that the cultural divides in America will be healing.” NUCR is confident, however, that the Senate will remain in conservative hands.

Democratic hopes of taking back the Senate were tempered throughout the week. The current breakdown of the next Congress is 46 Democrats and two left-leaning Independents to 48 Republicans, with the GOP expected to win two more races in North Carolina and Alaska. That sets up a battle for control over the upper chamber in January, when Georgia will hold two runoff elections.

For McCormick junior Nora Chambers, there is no future in which a Biden administration can carry out any dramatic change without the Senate. She said she hopes to do a “decent amount of phone banking” for Georgia’s Democratic candidates, and is even considering travelling to the state over Winter Break to canvass in-person.

“I’m hopeful, but I won’t be too hopeful yet until that special election,” Chambers said. “After that, it’s going to be important to put pressure on Biden to follow through with the really ambitious things he said he was going to do in his platform.”

While SESP sophomore Samantha Anderson said she wants to be hopeful about the next administration, she emphasized many people overlooked Biden’s past, including sexual assault allegations against him, because his opponent was so “terrible.”

While she’s happy Trump will be out of office, she isn’t convinced Biden will push for “actual change,” especially for members of marginalized communities — and she’s worried others will lose the fire fueled by the last four years.

“I’m scared that many people, especially White liberals, will not acknowledge many problems around racism and other forms of oppression that have shown very brightly in the Trump presidency because they’ll see Biden as all that ending,” Anderson said.

Email: [email protected] and [email protected]
Twitter: @daisy_conant and @pamesjollard