Dall-E Mini, the AI-powered text-to-image generator has taken over the internet. With its ability to render nearly anything your meme-loving heart desires, anyone can make their dreams come true.
DALL-E 2, a portmanteau of Salvador Dali, the surrealist and Wall-E, the Pixar robot, was created by OpenAI and is not widely available; it creates far cleaner imagery and was recently used to launch Cosmpolitan’s first AI-generated cover. The art world has been one of the first industries to truly embrace AI.
The open-sourced miniature version is what’s responsible for the memes. Programmer Boris Dayma wants to make AI more accessible; he built the Dall-E Mini program as part of a competition held by Google and an AI community called Hugging Face.
And with great technology, comes great memes. Typing a short phrase into Dall-E Mini will manifest 9 different amalgamations, theoretically shaping into reality the strange images you’ve conjured. Its popularity leads to too much traffic, often resulting in an error that can be fixed by refreshing the page or trying again later.
If you want to be a part of the creation of AI-powered engines, it all starts with code. CodeAcademy explains that Dall-E Mini is a seq2seq model, “typically used in natural language processing (NLP) for things like translation and conversational modeling.” CodeAcademy’s Text Generation course will teach you how to utilize seq2seq, but they also offer opportunities to learn 14+ coding languages at your own pace.
You can choose the Machine Learning Specialist career path if you want to become a Data Scientist who develops these types of programs, but you can also choose courses by language, subject (what is cybersecurity?) or even skill - build a website with HTML, CSS, and more.
CodeAcademy offers many classes for free as well as a free trial; it’s an invaluable resource for giving people of all experience levels the fundamentals they need to build the world they want to see.
As for Dall-E Mini, while some have opted to create beauty, most have opted for memes. Here are some of the internet’s favorites:
no fuck every other dall-e image ive made this one is the best yet pic.twitter.com/iuFNm4UTUM
— bri (@takoyamas) June 10, 2022
There’s no looking back now, not once you’ve seen Pugachu; artificial intelligence is here to stay.
Biden, Obama, Bush, and Clinton were the four horsemen of the 2021 Inauguration.
Well, Trump is out.
Joe Biden's Inauguration into Presidential office unfolded in a spectacle of patriotism with a slight undercurrent of fear following the white supremacist insurrection at the Capitol in early January.
Though the physical event was small — due to the enhanced security measures enacted in fear of violence or resistance against the transition of power, and the persisting pandemic — and more than 191,500 flags stood in place of the people that usually crowd the surrounding area, the event was filled with prominent guests and high profile performances, both in person and virtual.
The virtual portion of the day was a mixture of performances, speeches, and video compilations 'hosted' by Tom Hanks.
Just as the Simpsons predicted
As part of the proceedings, former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton appeared in a video giving a joint speech, which had the vibe of a group project where you didn't get to choose your partners and you got stuck with some kids you neither knew or liked.
The three most recently joined forces to volunteer to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it was first approved, and like an aged boyband, they came back for one night only, streamed live across America.
In their video, the three ex-presidents congratulated President Joe Biden and stressed the importance of peaceful transitions of power, ostensibly trying to lead by example in a show of bipartisan unity while making a point about the noticeably absent President Trump (who was on his way to Mar-a-Lago with his crying conspirators/children).
The message of the former presidents came alongside Biden urging for "unity" in his Inaugural address.
But what does this mean?
From the beginning of his Inauguration speech, Biden declared his presidency one of "history and hope. Of renewal and resolve." Referring to the historic nature of his cabinet and Kamala Harris's historic position as Vice President, Biden's self-congratulatory remarks also stir up questions.
The intentionally indefinite rhetoric asks: "hope" of what, and for whom? "Renewal" of what? Leaving an era defined by the slogan "Make America Great Again," it feels dangerous to tie a Presidency to the idea of some vague longing.
The politics of nostalgia allow the romanticization of a past which has always had as many problems as the present, if not more. Biden's emphasis on having a Presidency inspired by his predecessors refers to the presidency of Obama, but also to the other two horsemen of the inauguration apocalypse and the Founding Fathers … who we all know were flawed at best.
The desire to appeal to the American mythos reduces the oppression inculcated into US democracy to a footnote in the story — despite the fact that those institutions of inequality are prominent today.
Biden proclaimed that "the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us. On 'We the People' who seek a more perfect Union. This is a great nation and we are a good people."
… is that true?
While I would like to believe it, and perhaps there is room for more optimism and benefit of the doubt in an inaugural address than I'm accustomed to in life, moralizing the United States as a good nation filled with good people perpetuates the myth of American exceptionalism and allows for complacency.
We could be good people in a great nation, but the overpowering institutions of oppression and violence that we are socialized into make it easier to not be.
Biden did acknowledge that there is work still to be done, but it is dangerous to position the work of progress as a choice, rather than an imperative.
We did it, Joe
Biden's Path to Progress:
Biden's path to progress is simple: unity.
In one of the most pivotal passages of his speech, he said: "Speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear and demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial. Victory is never assured."
In this moment, Biden acknowledged the history of oppression in the United States and the deep-rooted divisions in its present. However, the proverbial good vs. evil dichotomy that he uses is a convenient scapegoat. It is easy to say that there are two sides of people, torn apart by outside forces, that just need to meet each other in the middle. But this is not how division in America has played out.
Progress in America cannot be a meeting in the middle of two forces with equal power, because that's not what the political and social landscapes look like. The forces of "racism, nativism, fear and demonization" have not "torn us apart" — those forces have separated and othered marginalized communities and excluded them from the American ideal.
Therefore, it is not the collective acceptance of the idea of "unity" that will heal the country, it is a commitment by the privileged to root out the divisive forces within themselves.
Unity and healing must happen as a result of progress, not at the expense of it. Biden's rhetoric leaves too much room for regression. But we must not pause to soothe the egos of white supremacists — their goals are not our goals. Biden's path to unity needs to look like accountability, not acquiescence.
In a recent tweet, activist Bree Newsome stated that "The only path toward 'unity' is one that dismantles white supremacy." Anything else would be a continuation of the same structures that "resulted in the Civil War, Jim Crow, the Trump era & the insurrection that occurred two weeks ago. "
There is no way forward without confronting whiteness— how it came to be a sociopolitical construct here, how it re… https://t.co/CAULWCruwH— Unite in justice for the poor & oppressed (@Unite in justice for the poor & oppressed) 1611189052.0
Many are feeling the gaps in Biden's rhetoric that could allow for placid and ultimately unsatisfying "progress" and citing the urgent importance of moving forward, rather than back to some fabled better days of a pre-Trump era.
...but what if he said "I cannot be a president for all. I will not serve white supremacy. I will not serve hatred.… https://t.co/1H0JTIPZqV— adriennemareebrown (@adriennemareebrown) 1611163169.0
The pre-Trump era created conditions for the Trump era. The current violence is not some aberration or some strange glitch in the matrix. It is a direct consequence of previous failures to root out the insidiousness of whiteness at the root of the United States.
The Problem With Moderation:
The shifting nature of Biden's address — his willingness to talk about the fact of American institutionalized oppression and speak out against white supremacy, but inability to articulate the deep internal work that we all have to do for progress — does not present a progressive pillar to build the next four years on.
It builds one that reflects his whole career: willing to inch towards "slow progress," but more concerned with moderation than radical change.
But moderation is not the way to establish real change. Moderation allows for complacency and, as Newsome articulated, "the 'return to normalcy' narrative is a call to settle for surface-level displays of civility diversity in the aftermath of Trump's brutish behavior without any real push for systemic change."
Even in the highest offices of the two-party government lie dangerous white supremacists who incited the riots alongside Trump and remain loyal to the MAGA following — so if bipartisanship looks like coalescing into an agreeable union that includes and validates those beliefs, I don't want it.
Instead, change has to look like examining the conditions within ourselves and our society which gave those people their platforms and amend those with an eye towards accountability.
The idea of "accountability" has been thrown around so much this election that it has become diluted. Accountability has to be active. It has to not just acknowledge the past, but use those acknowledgments to work diligently towards a new future.
While it's hard to predict how much Biden's speech was well-crafted rhetoric and how much was commitment to action, the prominent performativity of the ex-President's club does not bode well for radical change.
Rather, it signals a clinging onto old ideas of respectability and camaraderie between the powerful and a persistence of the same structures that allowed for the past violence to carry themselves into the future. It confirms that Trump's most egregious act was disrupting the illusion American exceptionalism, which has been long held up by mythology and militarism.
But that disruption was necessary. And it is with those new eyes that we are more critical of Bush, Clinton, Obama, and the entire systems that elected them We have to be.
For too long we've been told that "Black" politics would scare away moderates
First thing's first: I need white people to stop treating Stacey Abrams like their savior.
Deification, a form of dehumanization, strips a person of their humanity and turns them into a symbol. By overhyping Stacey Abrams, white people assert their goodness on the back of a Black woman, trying to be woke by association.
While Abrams deserves much praise, we cannot continue to place superhuman expectations upon her. We also cannot act like she was solely responsible for discovering a secret to turning Georgia blue. The reality is that Stacey Abrams worked tirelessly alongside other dedicated organizers to address the voter suppression Black people have been fighting in Georgia for decades.
So why haven't democratic politicians done this before? Obama did, campaigning at a grass roots level and counting on disenfranchised voters. But he was Obama, people might say, of course Black people will vote for him. The "Black vote" in political discourse is treated as an ineffable mystery and often discarded as impossible to count on. Black people just don't vote, politicians say, then focus their attention elsewhere.
So when the Black vote (alongside other BIPOC demographics such as the historic voter turnout of Indigenous populations in Arizona) undoubtedly delivered the 2020 election to the Democrats, then did the same for the House in the Georgia run-offs, everyone was talking about Stacey Abrams in a way a little too reminiscent of how the dad talked in Get Out.
But the election results revealed that Black voters are in fact the key to the Democratic Party's success. When is the Party going to start acting like it?
All through the election year, Democrats were convinced that playing it safe was the key to defeating Trump.
By electing Biden as the nominee instead of more "radical" Democratic candidates like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, the DNC were adamant that the game plan was to appeal to white moderates — which meant not scaring them away.
So while Biden picked Harris, a biracial Black and Indian woman, as his Vice President, their campaign strategy was to hover around the center and appeal to white voters who somehow just weren't sure who to vote for yet.
Meanwhile, the country was going through a period of major racial protest. Black Lives Matter protesters spent the summer appealing for an end to police brutality, for legislative protection, for defunding the police and reexamining the carceral system in light of its racist roots.
And though there were some tweets and statements from major Democratic politicians in response to the murder of George Floyd, as well as that super embarrassing thing with the Kinte cloths, the sentiment remained that actually addressing the demands of protestors would be too risky and scare away the nice white voters.
Nancy Pelosi taking a knee in a Kinte cloth for BLM apparently? Whose idea was this?
Well, the nice white voters went for Trump.
Exit polls showed that 58% of white voters voted for Trump — an increase from the 2016 election. And while Trump made percentage gains with Black men, Black people overwhelmingly voted for Biden. And in key cities in key states, Black voters having the agency to vote in the presidential election and in the Georgia Senate races was instrumental in the Democratic wins.
The numbers speak for themselves. In his election speech, Biden even thanked Black voters for being instrumental to his victory. But Biden's main message was one of healing — not for marginalized groups who suffered most under the Trump presidency, but for … "the soul of America"?
Biden's speech seemed to focus on restoring party communication, going back to his comfortable place in the center and telling us (while invoking Langston Hughes in his references to "dreams deferred") to join him.
For many Black voters, moving to the center looks like regression. Again, the Democratic rhetoric was one that appealed to white moderates, to appease their concerns and placate their nerves after a year of proverbially "difficult" conversations and "reckoning."
But for Black Americans, the most difficult thing is being constantly gaslit — being told by a party which claims to care about us that fighting for our concerns (read: our lives) is too much, too difficult, too frightening.
In response to the calls to defund the police, many major Democrats were quick to dismiss the movement. Biden himself said that he did not want to defund the police. "I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness," he said instead, again appealing to vague notions of morality rather than actionable policy.
Even Black politicians took up this rhetoric. South Carolina Representative and major Civil Rights activist James Clyburn said that "nobody is going to defund the police," and that "police have a role to play." His plea was against "sloganeering," claiming that pleas like "Defund the Police'' would undermine the movement and lose the election.
Barack Obama said something similar (thanks, Obama): "If you believe, as I do, that we should be able to reform the criminal justice system so that it's not biased and treats everybody fairly, I guess you can use a snappy slogan, like Defund the Police, but, you know, you lost a big audience the minute you say it."
These sentiments are the work of years of conditioning that expects Black people to acquiesce to white audiences, to settle for banal "reform" and "slow, steady change" instead of radical action. They are examples of respectability politics and tone policing that reinforce the idea that Black folks are a liability, harming our own progress by scaring away potential allies.
But we're tired of it.
In the wake of the dismissal of BLM slogans, many major progressives also spoke out. Representative Ilhan Omar responded to Obama's comment in a tweet, saying: "We lose people in the hands of police. It's not a slogan but a policy demand. And centering the demand for equitable investments and budgets for communities across the country gets us progress and safety."
We lose people in the hands of police. It’s not a slogan but a policy demand. And centering the demand for equitabl… https://t.co/fh8ftnTR7t— Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan Omar) 1606872699.0
Her response points out the danger in the quick dismissal by these politicians: too focused on how the slogan sounds, they fail to address the policy changes it calls to action and continue to support a system of policing which currently exists in a fundamentally oppressive structure. Reform is not enough, complete restructuring and radical change is the only answer.
Most Black Americans do not have the privilege of not understanding this. And, after delivering the election to Biden and the Senate, we want recognition.
We want to no longer be the big scary thing that Democrats are afraid of. We want to be taken seriously, and we want our demands to be met, our communities to be prioritized, and our people to stop dying at the hands of the state.
Black voters do not appear magically to deliver democracy if white people click their heels, repost an infographic, and say, "Stacey Abrams" in the mirror three times. The Black Vote is a collection of diverse, real people who are tired of being treated like a liability, a threat to the party they have always been loyal to.
It's time the party returned the favor — pointing out the obvious transgressions of the (soon) past administration will not be enough. With a blue senate, Biden has the opportunity to be bold, to enact real change for the communities who showed up for him, despite his own flaws and a year spent turning his back to us for the sake of white voters who did not.
Howard Kurtz is equally tired of Republicans trying to stage a coup and of Democrats getting mad about it.
On Wednesday morning, Fox News host Howard Kurtz took to Twitter to let the world know that both sides are bad in the most hilarious attempt at false equivalency in modern memory.
Host of the Fox News show Media Buzz, Kurtz recognizes the dangerous game the Trump administration is playing. By blocking President-Elect Joe Biden and his team from transitional access to the workings of the federal government, they are threatening the stability of America's institutions.
A smooth transition of power is essential. And people like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and General Services Administrator Emily W. Murphy are flouting that important process.
Sec. of State Mike Pompeo: 'There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration' www.youtube.com
In order to prop up Donald Trump's continued denial of the fact that he lost the election, they are refusing access to Biden's team. Pompeo even mocked a reporter's question on the issue in a press conference on Tuesday, remarking that there would be "a smooth transition to a second Trump administration."
In case there is any uncertainty, it should be noted that Joe Biden unequivocally won the election, and the only way to achieve a "second Trump administration" would be through a coup.
But Kurtz knows that this issue—like every issue in American politics—cannot possibly be one-sided. That's why he identified the major culprit on the other side of the aisle: Sister Act star Whoopi Goldberg.
One of the hosts of ABC's daytime talk show The View, Goldberg had a message on Monday for any of Donald Trump's supporters who are still in denial about the election's clear outcome. Addressing the camera directly, the comedian and actor told them to "suck it up."
"Hillary Clinton didn't say, 'Hey, wait a minute, this doesn't feel right, stop the count.' She didn't say, 'This doesn't feel right, I'm not going for it.' She didn't say any of that. So all of you, suck it up. Suck it up like we sucked it up."
From Trump's GSA barring Biden transition officials from federal buildings to Whoopi Goldberg telling his voters to… https://t.co/musEsjBXz1— HowardKurtz (@HowardKurtz) 1605097229.0
Of course many Trump supporters would no doubt take issue with the idea that a three-year investigation into electoral misconduct—resulting in dozens of indictments and guilty pleas, including several figures from within the Trump campaign—was "sucking it up."
But Whoopi left room for them to pursue the same approach with Biden, saying, "If the law says it's something to look at, look at it." It's just that first they have to acknowledge the reality of the election results.
They have to stop clinging to phony claims of fraud and stories about election observers being excluded. They have to accept the election results and admit that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won.
Still, Howard Kurtz felt that Goldberg—the woman who allowed Patrick Swayze to possess her so he could dance with Demi Moore in Ghost—had overstepped the bounds of her sacred duty. Pushing voters to accept the outcome of a democratic election is apparently out of line.
And who has a responsibility to remain politically impartial more so than the star of 1995's classic Theodore Rex—a movie about a dinosaur who is also a cop?
It was Howard Kurtz's own tweet promoting a column he wrote on "both sides" of the election dispute that highlighted the supposed parallel between Whoopi Goldberg and top Trump administration officials. But when "Whoopi Goldberg" became a trending topic on Twitter—with users mocking his comparison—Kurtz pushed back, saying in another tweet, "Gee, I'd really prefer people react to the whole column about anger and payback on both sides."
ah yes, the famous two sides, "the president of the United States" and "Whoopi Goldberg" https://t.co/DiQoOoz6OW— Albert Burneko (@Albert Burneko) 1605106033.0
Leaving aside the fact that he chose those ridiculous examples to put in his original tweet, reading the full column doesn't make it much better.
Kurtz draws absurdly stretched comparisons throughout. He likens comments from a former Obama and DNC spokesperson to the actions of two sitting senators.
The former spokesperson, Hari Sevugan, recently called for Trump staffers to be held accountable for assisting in an attempted coup—for employers to shun them. On the other side, the two sitting senators from Georgia have called for the resignation of Georgia's secretary of state just for acknowledging that Joe Biden won the state through legal votes.
Never mind the strangeness of placing a man who no longer speaks for any political institution on the level of two of the nation's top legislators. While it's worth noting that they're obviously in different leagues, the reality is that they aren't even playing the same game.
Because Senators Perdue and Loeffler—who both face contentious run-off elections in January—weren't weren't criticizing the other side. They were attacking a fellow Republican simply for not supporting the president's delusional belief that he somehow won an election he clearly lost.
Kurtz's only other example of a Left-wing attack is a political commentator who hasn't been on MSNBC since 2015. Touré wished ill on Trump supporters for voting "against America and for a cult leader who has no redeeming or admirable qualities."
As for the Right-wing, Kurtz points to Attorney General Bill Barr, who has taken the unprecedented step of involving the Justice Department in what is technically an ongoing election. Before a winner is officially certified, Barr has approved investigators to pursue claims of election fraud.
There is, of course, no reason not to be vigilant in these matters. Investigators should pursue any legitimate allegation in an unbiased manner.
But at the moment there are no legitimate allegations—just a series of flimsy excuses. And Barr has spent his entire tenure as AG making it clear that his Justice Department is anything but unbiased. He works directly for Donald Trump. Which is presumably why Barr's latest move prompted the department's election crimes chief to resign this week.
With Bill Barr’s newly issued ‘Election Interference’ memo, apparent we have a second Barr policy to add to the OLC… https://t.co/7ZcqQqsPBH— Glenn Kirschner (@Glenn Kirschner) 1605044639.0
So, no, there is no "both sides" in the election dispute. Joe Biden won the election, and Donald Trump is using his power and his supplicating cronies in an effort to undermine the democratic result.
On the Left, media figures of varying stature are being rude and pushing Trump supporters to accept reality. On the Right, people with real power are supporting an attempted coup that strikes at the heart of American democracy–and attacking those who don't as apostates.
As is so often the case with efforts to find blame on "both sides," Kurtz is trying to provide cover for Republicans' blatant misconduct by dredging up petty gripes with the Democrats.
The reality is: Democrats and Republicans are not equivalent. In terms of corruption, deceptive rhetoric, and blind party loyalty, the Democrats are horribly outmatched. Kurtz's pathetic attempt to make it seem otherwise only serves to make that more clear.
Biden's new website is...nice.
It's been said many times: Leaving Trump behind feels like emerging from an abusive relationship, or perhaps renewing one's relationship with a former BFF (America) after she leaves her sh*tty man.
After all, Trump is a classic abuser. He gaslights, he lies, he cheats, and he is leaving behind an America with 200,000 people dead and more dying every day. He never admits his mistakes, creating a vicious cycle wherein he does something atrocious, gets a tan, and then shows up smiling with flowers (or in his case, a last-minute attempt to curry favor with the Black community by befriending several aging rappers).
Many Americans are still under his spell, and there's not much a lot of us can do about it. People in abusive relationships are often in denial about what's happening to them, and they often won't leave until they decide to. Shaming someone in an abusive relationship is rarely an effective way to get them out of it, as they've likely already been shamed many times.
Concerned friends and family can get into as many Facebook arguments with Trumpets as we want, but until they decide they deserve better and it's time to leave, there's really not too much we can do for them. All we can do is offer a safe place where they can run to, should they choose to escape. (Of course, we must remember that many Trumpers can be abusive as well).
Anyway, all this is to say that now we're finally kicking Trump out. America, we have decided to free ourselves. And we have the next few months to prepare for a new man to move in: Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.
Settling for Joe, Dreaming of Bernie
I know I'm not alone in saying that Joe Biden isn't my dream man. For a long time, I was hoping that Bernie Sanders would sweep me off my feet on an elderly white horse, a joint billowing from his hand. He would take me to the hospital where I would finally get my wisdom teeth removed for free thanks to Medicare For All, and then we would go to Jeff Bezos's house, demand a few billion dollars (just hand it over, Jeff, it'll save you a lot of time in court), and make a couple large donations to community organizers.
But alas, that was always a fantasy—and much like my childhood fantasy of dating Joe Jonas during his Camp Rock years, some things are simply not meant to be.
Now we have Joe Biden. I still don't know all that much about the man, relatively speaking, but I know he's not nearly as dangerous as Donald Trump. When I heard he was the nominee, I thought that if anything, he might just be a do-nothing type of politician who would have to be bullied by mass movements into taking any sort of action at all.
But at least, I hoped, he would clean up some of the mess Trump made during one of his many fits of rage. At least there would be no more 5 AM tweet storms. At least his gang of weird friends from Fox News would stop stealing from my fridge and destroying America's stature in the rest of the world's eyes.
View this post on InstagramUsually wouldn't post in between seasons but was just so proud of the whole team ❤️
A post shared by Jordan Firstman (@jtfirstman) on Oct 7, 2020 at 9:45pm PDT
The website looks...nice. It's been so long since a political platform showed up wearing a suit and holding flowers instead of brandishing a gun at me and threatening to demolish gay rights.
Scrolling through, I actually agree with most of what the website says. I mean, first of all, there's the COVID-19 plan. A COVID plan. A plan! It's not an Elizabeth Warren-level plan, sure, but it's still an actual plan with steps.
Trump had no plan. If anything, his plan was to keep golfing as he let COVID-19 keep raging across the country. States across the nation probably would've shut down again, over and over again each winter for years, because not every state is willing to just...let everyone catch COVID-19. This disease would have continued for another four years to forever. The death toll, the overcrowded hospitals…The nightmare would have gone on, and on, and on.
It's unclear as to whether Joe Biden will effectively stop COVID-19, but dammit, it's nice to know there is a plan–one that's comprised of actual words, to boot.
It's also incredibly relieving to hear someone say they will "ensure public health decisions are informed by public health professionals." This is like if you were dating some guy who's willing to let you lie on the couch bleeding out because he didn't feel like driving you to the ER, but then Joe Biden popped in and said the Uber is on its way. (Yeah, we can't quite expect affordable ambulances with a Biden healthcare plan, but I'll take what I can get).
Biden has promised to set up a Pandemic Testing Board and a U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps to mobilize community contract tracing. He's going to use the Defense Production Act. He's going to call on Congress to pass an emergency relief package and a "restart package" that helps businesses cover COVID-19 related costs. He's going to build infrastructure to prevent future pandemic threats. He's going to fund schools and small businesses.
And, incredibly, Biden's COVID-19 plan involves science. (How beautiful it is to hear that word: "science"...used correctly…)
I've always had a type, and that type is musicians and/or climate activists. I didn't think Joe Biden was either, but his climate plan is music to my ears.
Biden knows climate change is an existential threat. He knows that the "current COVID-19 pandemic reminds us how profoundly the energy and environmental policy decisions of the past have failed communities" and "at this moment of profound crisis, we have the opportunity to build a more resilient, sustainable economy—one that will put the United States on an irreversible path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050."
An irreversible path to net-zero emissions. Rejoining the Paris Climate Accord—and vamping them up. Creating millions of green jobs. Environmental Justice. Talk. Clean. Energy. To. Me.
True, these are fairly logical, necessary steps to that must be taken if we are to combat climate change, the paramount existential threat of our time, and it will take even more radical action to prevent irreparable destruction. It's sad that we have to celebrate someone doing the bare minimum, using basic logic, and practicing public decency, but here we are.
Maybe I've just gotten so used to preparing for hurricanes and wildfires and being treated like sh*t that I've lowered my expectations to subterranean bunker-levels. And maybe I am too naive.
It's probably naive to believe any of this will be possible or that any real change will happen with Biden. But given that the ex-president mostly communicated through all-caps rage-tweets, this is a nice change.
Biden also has an economic recovery plan. "The pandemic has also laid bare some unacceptable truths. Even before COVID-19, too many families were struggling to make ends meet and too many parents were worried about the economic future for their children," writes whoever wrote the copy for Biden's website.
"Laid bare": That's the phrase that every single one of my favorite journalists has used to describe the effects of COVID-19. Biden steals phrases from reputable journalists rather than from cracked-out Floridian moguls paying for rooms at Mar-A-Lago in order to gain favors from the president.
Wow, my expectations are really, really, really low. I mean, goddammit, the ex-president has failed at countless business ventures and has been bailed out time and time again. He's like Pete Davidson in this recent SNL sketch, who claims he's working on a "start-up" only for you to later find out that his "angel investor" is ghosting him.
Visiting Grandma - SNL www.youtube.com
Trump is a criminal who didn't even pay his taxes. He's literally Keith from this other SNL sketch (a not-so-subtle metaphor for Trump), and America is Ego Nwodim, somehow considering actually taking him back (until the cops show up).
Take Me Back - SNL www.youtube.com
Biden's economic plan promises to "provide state, local, and tribal governments with the aid they need so educators, firefighters, and other essential workers aren't being laid off." The plan also promises to "mobilize American talent and heart to build a 21st century caregiving and education workforce." He included carework and education—traditionally undervalued and under-recognized forms of essential work—in his economic plan.
Hopefully, with Jill Biden at the helm rather than Betsy DeVos, America's education and caregiving systems will improve so that more people of all genders have equal opportunities to ascend to the highest office in the land.
At the very, very least, there will be a dog back in the White House.
Joe Biden and his shelter dog, Champmymodernmet.com
Joe and Jill Biden with their German Shepard, MajorFashion Model Secret
Biden also has a plan to "mobilize across the board to advance racial equity in America." That's right: No more creepy, covert-but-kind-of-overt white supremacy implicit in the presidential platform.
Now, we have Kamala Harris, a Black and South Asian woman, as our VP! Sure, she might have a background in criminal prosecution, and representation doesn't equal reparations, but you know...it's still way, way better than that really disturbing "stand back and stand by" stuff we dealt with for four years.
There's an entire section on racial equality. There's a plan for police reform. We're doing the bare minimum rather than regressing at an exponential pace.
Let's not forget that racism is deeply ingrained in the fabric of America, and white people overwhelmingly voted for Trump. Also, this kind of change has been promised before, and we have been let down many times. There's a lot of work to do.
We aren't out of the woods yet—far from it. But for this one glowing weekend, the dense pines cleared and we saw a sky full of shooting stars. It didn't actually help anyone pay for their kids' food or clear their astronomical healthcare bills; but it's a promise and a chance to imagine that one day, we might make it out.
America Deserves Better
Joe Biden is not the patron saint of hope, equality, and change. In all honesty, it completely makes sense that a lot of people all along the political spectrum aren't excited about him. He's not exactly the guy of our dreams. And America does deserve better.
But hopefully, Joe Biden will be there over the next few years as we bind our wounds and heal the burns from our terrible spray tans. He'll give us time to get a couple makeovers, a la Tutar in the Borat sequel. He'll help us rebuild, and hopefully next time the election rolls around, we'll have found our footing as a strong, powerful nation that doesn't need a man at all.
Of course, many powerful villains remain. There's America's resident zombie-ghoul, Mitch McConnell, who has long been blocking Democrats' every effort to make real change. Even though the man is rotting from the inside out—perhaps his hatred has at last calcified into a visible plague?—we haven't been able to exorcise that particular demon yet. (Kentucky...we'll be ready to elect Charles Booker when you need us, but we can't help you until you help yourself).
And in truth, we will never heal until we learn to love ourselves, America. We can't rely on another old white man to fix us. We have to turn to our people, our communities, and mass movements. We have to decide what we want our future to look like, and go get it.
It's clear that it will take a lot more than a president-elect to wring out some of America's lingering, ongoing traumas. We'll need therapy, certainly, and a lot of it. Hopefully all those freshly legalized drugs will help with our collective depression.
At some point, we'll actually have to engage with the deep traumas and early childhood wounds that led us into these kinds of relationships in the first place. We have to confront the mistakes of our forefathers and foremothers, the slavery and colonization and colonialism that created the attachment issues and socio-psychological defects that drew us to men like Trump. We have to be the ones that change our lives in order to change our nation.
But that's a tall order, and we're all tired. So for now, I'm just going to keep gazing lovingly at the work of Biden's excellent web designer, who clearly knows how to pick a font and lay out an escape plan. I look forward to being mildly uninspired by Biden's administrative staff picks rather than openly horrified.
It's been a terrible time, America. For many of us, life has always been this way. But it's late-stage 2020; the status quo is no more, and anything is possible. If you told me I'd be writing a thirsty essay about Joe Biden's website in February 2020 I would have thrown my beer in your face then gone back to my awesome free concert (just kidding, I probably would've been right here on the Internet protected by net neutrality, but I digress).
Yes, I am pretty desperate right now, and I don't think I'm alone in that. But I have faith in the organizers that have been working tirelessly to get us here, and I believe if we keep fighting, organizing, and working towards change, we'll see a new world come to be.
For now, love is love, so I will continue to feel vaguely attracted to this website until climate change ends or I finally get my goddamned stimulus check.
We need to come together for a last-ditch effort to make sure that our election is fair and democracy lives another day.
The 2020 election is reaching its dramatic conclusion, and the world is watching to see which old white man America picks next.
The election was not the Blue Wave that Democrats hoped for, but it is still extremely close, with no definitive victor emerging on either side as of now.
But before we get to analysis, we must make sure to count every single vote. That is the basis of our democracy, the meaning of America and the center of what the founding fathers fought for when they dreamed up the United States so many years ago.
As expected, Trump declared victory early anyway in an election speech that was widely denounced by everyone from Ben Shapiro to George Takei.
No, Trump has not already won the election, and it is deeply irresponsible for him to say he has.— Ben Shapiro (@Ben Shapiro) 1604475073.0
"No, Trump has not already won the election, and it is deeply irresponsible for him to say he has," tweeted Shapiro early Wednesday morning.
"GOP leaders: Now would be a good time to grow a backbone and denounce Trump's early claim of victory when there are millions of votes still to be counted in hotly contested states," wrote Takei.
The Trump campaign is also apparently running active Facebook ads implying he won the election, despite the website's declaration that it would ban political ads after the election.
Now, people from across party lines are demanding that every vote be counted.
"We'll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court," said Trump. "We want all voting to stop. We don't want them to find any ballots at 4 o' clock in the morning and add them to the list, ok?"
Mail-in absentee ballots are currently still being counted. As of noon on Wednesday, around half of Pennsylvania's mail-in ballots have been counted, and 200,000 ballots remain to be counted in Georgia. 80,000 Michigan ballots remain, and around 400,000 remain in Arizona.
But the GOP is attempting to stymie ballot counts. In Pennsylvania, Republican lawmakers attempted to discount votes from a Pennsylvania county that allowed voters who filled out their ballots incorrectly to "cure" or fix them. People who forgot to put ballots in specific envelopes, for example, would have had their votes ignored if they hadn't been able to fix their ballots.
More than 200,000 mail-in ballots in Philadelphia remain to be counted, city commissioners Lisa Deeley and Al Schmi… https://t.co/aj8LTI8EVv— The Philadelphia Inquirer (@The Philadelphia Inquirer) 1604502476.0
A Pennsylvania judge met the attempt with a "skeptical" reception, according to Politico. Back in October, the Supreme Court ruled 4:4 that election officials must accept ballots that arrive 3 days after the election (five votes are needed to grant a stay, which bodes badly, since Amy Coney Barrett is now on the court).
Joe Biden and Donald Trump remain stunningly neck-and-neck across the nation. Before the election, many feared Trump might attempt to claim an early victory, especially if he appeared to be winning before all the ballots were counted.
Now, people around the country are preparing to take nonviolent action to demand that every single vote is counted. The Protect the Results coalition will be hosting peaceful marches around the country, and groups are prepared to strike (all nonviolently, to be clear for the riot-fearers among us) should corruption succeed.
The division between Trump voters and Biden voters may feel unbridgeable, but almost everyone agrees: We want to preserve our great democracy. Democracy relies on every single vote being counted; and this year, when millions of people voted absentee because of a pandemic, it only makes sense that some votes would take longer than others to count.
All in all, the election did not turn out as many people expected on Election Night. Democrats saw some victories: Arizona's Mark Kelly and Colorado's John Hickenlooper flipped their Senate seats. The Squad grew stronger, with new elects like Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, and America's first trans senator—Sarah McBride—joining AOC, Rashida Tlaib, and other progressive Congressmembers. But other Republicans who Democrats hoped to oust like Mitch McConnell, Joni Ernst, and Lindsey Graham maintained power, and the House's Democratic majority shrank.
Whether this is evidence that Democratic establishment is officially over and time is ripe for a new Democratic movement to take power, or if it simply proves that Republican power is strong in America, is still to be determined.
Now, with health care on the ballot, internment camps on the border, and election integrity almost irredeemably compromised, we need to come together for a last-ditch effort to make sure that our election is fair and democracy lives another day.
Join a virtual or in-person Protect the Results action in your city today.
The shining light of American democracy—a beacon for the world—is actually a smoldering dumpster fire
Americans do not live in a democracy.
Right-wing pricks will tell you that's a good thing. They will say that America's founding father's—in their immense wisdom—established the United States as a Republic, not a democracy, specifically to avoid the danger of the unruly masses inflicting their tyrannical will on out-groups and minority populations.
Leaving aside the fact that these revered men did not generally believe in the humanity of women, Black people, native Americans, and presumably men with facial hair—and that democracy mostly frightened them with the possibility of the unwashed masses voting to take away their powdered-wig money—there were actually some nice ideas in there.
For instance, they enshrined some rights with the intention of preventing the kind of religious conflict and ideological oppression that had torn Europe apart for centuries. That's great and all, but they never enshrined any right to vote, and if their intention was to use the intermediaries of a representative republic to prevent a majority from monopolizing democratic power and inflicting hateful tyranny on a powerless minority of the population, there's some bad news...
The roots of America's democracy problem www.youtube.com
While our system has gotten more democratic in some ways—we now elect our senators through a direct popular vote, rather than having them selected by state legislatures—the consolidation of political power among a small percentage of wealthy elites has resulted in a powerful minority inflicting hateful tyranny on both the powerless majority and on truly oppressed out-groups.
It doesn't matter if most people don't want overpriced private healthcare, environmental degradation, regressive taxation, prohibitive abortion laws, immigrant concentration camps, and corporate overlords with the power to quash collective bargaining. The legislation that serves the interests of the wealthy and powerful—either directly, or by providing a distraction from the issues that actually affect our daily lives—is the legislation that consistently gets passed.
That's how the system is built at every level. As former president Jimmy Carter put it, we now live in an "oligarchy" where "unlimited political bribery" leads to "a complete subversion of our political system."
The Electoral College
The electoral college may be the most obvious example of how warped America's "democratic" institutions are. Each state was originally apportioned a number of electors based on their population of citizens, with each enslaved black person equal to 3/5 of a citizen. While those enslaved people would not be represented by the government, the men with the moral fortitude to treat them like subhuman cattle would be, and they believed that they deserved a louder voice because of all the human beings they owned.
Each state had the right to decide how its electors would be selected, either by popular vote or by state legislators; then those electors, though they had a "pledged" loyalty, could cast their vote for whoever they wanted to be president and have occasionally abandoned their pledges to vote for someone else.
The National Popular Vote v. the Electoral College [POLICYbrief] www.youtube.com
If that sounds like a frustrating board game where they made the rules excessively complicated as a substitute for making them, you know, work...you're starting to get the hang of it. Of course, nowadays we also have a national popular vote where we listen to what every voter wants—because every vote counts!—before turning our attention back to the electoral college and the handful of swing states where votes actually count.
In 40% of elections in this century the popular vote winner has lost the electoral college, and the will of the governed has been ignored in favor of some arcane rules written by men with syphilitic brain damage.
There is currently a push for states to embrace the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would assign a winning number of electors to whichever candidate won the national popular vote and eliminate the familiar routine of candidates chasing each other around contested states and ignoring most of the country.
But while the compact is only a few large states away from going into effect, it seems unlikely that it will come into effect any time soon. Because while you might think that voters in Texas would resent the idea of their votes having less than 1/3 the power of voters in Vermont or Washington D.C., they have been sold on the idea that their interests are best served by the current incarnation of the Republican party—which is heavily favored by the electoral college—rather than a version that was forced to actually listen and adjust to the populace...
And even if the compact went into effect, it's there's a good chance that the Supreme Court's current, wildly conservative 6-3 majority—5/6 of whom were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote—would overturn it.
Speaking of Texas and the disenfranchisement of voters, can you guess how many Left-wing congresspeople represent the famously liberal enclave of Austin?
If you guessed 1 out of 5, congratulations! If that's not what you guessed, you're probably pretty confused about why a city with a population under a million even has five congressional representatives (New York City, with a population of over 8 million, has 13 representatives in Congress), let why four of them are Republicans. The answer is gerrymandering.
Named after some old-timey guy named Gerry, Gerrymandering is the ancient practice of reshaping the boundaries of a voting district into grotesque contortions according to partisan calculations. If you can pick your voters, you can make sure that the voters never pick someone you don't like.
One of the most common versions of this is known as "cracking and packing," where a population with politics you don't agree with—say, the liberals in Austin–is either split up and diluted into various conservative-leaning districts or carefully contained to one hyper-liberal district—as with Louisiana's 2nd district, which contains both Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
This is how the Republican party has maintained a stranglehold on power since the 2010 redistricting, despite representing a smaller and smaller portion of Americans. This is why Pennsylvania Democrats—who won a significant the majority of votes in state races in 2018—still ended up being the minority party in the state legislature.
Gerrymandering is why—despite more Americans preferring the generally inoffensive corporate milquetoasts of the Democratic party (e.g. Joe Biden)—to the greedy, hateful and even more corporate shills of the Republican party (e.g. Donald Trump) are still dominant at the level of state legislatures, and remain nationally competitive.
In 1886—fewer than 30 years after ruling that Black Americans couldn't be citizens in the Dred Scott case—the United States Supreme Court decided on dubious grounds that, if the 14th amendment insisted that formerly enslaved people counted as full people (effectively repealing the "3/5 compromise"), then rich people's companies should count as people too.
It was the only way to make sure that the kind of rich assh*les who used to treat Black people like subhuman cattle—as well as their northern counterparts—could still have way too much power. it meant they couldn't be held accountable for any crimes they committed or debts they incurred through their companies.
What Uber and Lyft don't want you to know about California's Prop 22. (For more info, read my thread:… https://t.co/17xj9CkMV7— Adam Conover (@Adam Conover) 1604290482.0
Then, in 2010, the narrowly conservative Supreme Court ruled on the Citizens United case and endorsed that concept of personhood, with the addition that those corporate "persons" have as much freedom of speech as you or I—though, lacking mouths, they can only speak with their millions and millions of dollars.
That green, paper speech can be used to influence and manipulate political discussions to the preferences of the wealthy investors, meaning that companies like Uber and Lyft can fund advertisements that make it seem like their gig economy employees—"contractors"—would hate having health benefits and a minimum wage.
That's what's happening in California right now with the proposition 22 vote, where voters don't even know that the the deceptive "Yes on Prop 22" ads they're being fed are funded by massive corporations trying to rob their employees of those benefits.
The embrace of corporate money in political advertising is mirrored in the abandonment of public election funding in favor of big money donors. Increasingly, politicians only need to cater their messages to the ultra wealthy, and to the pet issues of their most devoted political bases—ignoring most citizens.
In another stunningly brilliant move by the Supreme Court (boy, wouldn't it be great if we could have placed three humane justices in the last four years...) in 2013 they gutted the voting rights act, ruling that the limitations on certain states to alter their voting systems without oversight were not necessary, because there hadn't been any racist alterations lately. In other news, if you haven't burned your hands on a baking sheet in while, you can probably throw out your oven mitts...
Since that time, those previously overseen states have closed over 1,600 polling places and instituted various discriminatory voter ID laws, as well as purging hundreds of thousands of voter registrations. Incidentally, when voter turnout is up, Democrats tend to perform better...
In The Republic, Greek philosopher Plato (who was awful and ridiculous in many ways, but just leave that aside for now...) determined that strong universal education was fundamental to the functioning of society.
Without a proper education, individuals could not help to make informed decisions for their own interests and the general welfare of society. And if only some individuals are educated, there's nothing to stop those individuals from steering society—including education—to their own advantage.
Plato's best (and worst) ideas - Wisecrack www.youtube.com
Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening with people like current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in charge of American schools. Arguing for "school choice" (and for the kind of religious establishment the founding fathers tried to prevent) they deprive free public schools of their already skewed funding (tied to property values, because...evil), encouraging parents to seek private schooling, which is often a great option for the wealthy, and often an inadequate insult for working class families.
How are people supposed to properly exercise their democratic rights if their massively underfunded schools never taught them the basics of America's political system? The answer is: They aren't.
People like Betsy DeVos benefit when most of the citizens don't know their rights or understand what has been stolen from them. People like Betsy DeVos—and Donald Trump, and Mitch McConnell—benefit from the fact that we don't live in a true Democracy, and from the fact that most Americans don't have the education to realize how much better things could be—how much better they are in countries with functioning Democracies.
People like you and me (assuming you aren't a multi-millionaire) benefit when enough of us vote to push back against the oligarchy and assert our preference for Democratic rule. And maybe—if we keep it up—we might even get it one day.
Ordinary people will need to stand up to make sure that democracy is preserved.
After four years with Trump, the day finally arrived. We the people were asked to decide if we'd endure another four years under his orange fist.
At least, it should have been all of our decisions. But ever since the race was called for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, whistleblowers across the nation—and even Trump himself—have been protesting the election results.
Trump has openly refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. His administration has attempted to reduce the number of ballots that will be counted in swing states. He rushed the nomination of a partisan Supreme Court justice just days before the election.
One week before the election, news broke that Trump had been trying to ask Republican lawmakers in swing states if they can ignore the popular vote and appoint Trump-supporting electoral college members. The list of warning signs goes on.
In light of all this, there were several ways that the election could have played out:
In the first scenario, Biden wins fair and square and Trump concedes. This could happen on Election Night, but it would most likely happen several days after the election, or depending on how counting ballots goes, the process could take weeks.
In the second scenario, Trump wins fair and square.
In the third scenario, Trump loses the election but refuses to relinquish power. He could do this constitutionally by refusing to offer a concession speech, or by directly mobilizing his supporters in his defense. He might also attempt to stop post-election ballot counting through legal or administrative means.
In the fourth scenario, Trump could appear to win, but his win will have either been doctored or influenced by non-democratic factors.
These two latter scenarios fall under the umbrella of a coup. They're also the two scenarios that have come to fruition. So what are Americans to do?
Expert compares Trump's politics to fascism youtu.be
Now that Trump has lost (and thus lost the protections of the presidency), he could end up in prison–his fortune gone. He has been millions of dollars in debt and has managed to con his way out of every scheme before, so he probably thinks he can do the same thing now.
But this won't happen in America, not with all this nation's powerful organizers, movements, and protections in place.
Everyday people have stopped coups before—but it always takes knowledge and a willingness to organize. Should Trump attempt to steal the election, every person who is able has to be willing to take to the streets and peacefully mobilize in protest.
The Protect the Results coalition is coordinating actions across the nation in response to every scenario. Youth movements and labor movements are planning on striking—the 100,000-member-strong MLK Labor Council is calling for a general strike if Trump refuses to step down, as is the youth movement coalition We Count On Us, a combination of Sunrise Movement, March for our Lives, and Dream Defenders.
Hold elected officials accountable.
The impetus for stopping a coup should, technically, fall on politicians and electors whose job it is to ensure a safe and fair election for all.
Democratic governors must appoint Biden electors, and the Democratic Party must refuse to concede should there be any sign that Trump is actively stealing the election. When it comes down to the wire, Congress must hold states accountable, particularly if Trump attempts to repress legally counted votes.
Elected officials were already promising to hold Trump accountable on Election Day. "We have our lawyers poised to move on a dime on Election Day or evening, as we see a problem," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the Huffington Post. "We're ready for it all. I would just like him to know it ain't going to happen for him at the end of the day."
Be careful where you get your information.
Media organizations have been preparing for a possible coup for months. Twitter labels tweets proclaiming false information as fraudulent, while Facebook may or may not be hosting irresponsible ads.
Media networks are also preparing for various cases, including a scenario where Trump still claims victory based on false information. Still, if Trump does attempt to claim victory, it's likely that his words will be aired far and wide by digital networks. Double and triple-check where you get your information, and be careful of sharing information, especially something that could cause panic.
Prepare for the possibility of a coup.
Remember that Trump's entire presidency has been marred by unlikely events.
"In short, Trump is trying to steal the election, more blatantly than any previous president, and providing a clear preview of how Republicans would move to further erode democracy if given another four years in power," writes The Week's Ryan Cooper. "It's an unusually clear and stark choice this election: a continuation of America's republican institutions, or its probable replacement with a tyranny."
Between Trump's efforts to sabotage the Post Office, his legal efforts to disrupt absentee ballot counting, and his refusal to disavow his supporters' violence, it is clear that Trump is not preparing to go gently into the good night. If tyranny is indeed afoot, we have but a brief window to stop it.
Believe that we will win.
"For the election to succeed, we have to think and act as if it will succeed," writes George Packer for The Atlantic. "Stealing an election remains extremely difficult, and almost impossible if the vote isn't close."
Though we must remain prepared for Trump to steal the election, we must also envision the future we want. There are millions of good people across America and hundreds of thousands of great leaders who have fought (and are still fighting) to make sure the election is run fairly.
Those who've demanded a fair election have righteousness, history, and the entirety of the Democratic process on their side, while Trump is a weak con man with an insatiable need to fill the gaping hole inside of him. He has made America an embarrassment to the world and has botched the COVID-19 crisis and launched us all into a depression. His time is over.
We just have to be ready to make sure he actually leaves.
Take care of yourself and your loved ones.
While we all have a role to play, no one is in this alone. If you've read this far, your anxiety about the election is likely off the charts. Take some time away from the news and send some love to friends and chosen family.
Accept the emotions you might be feeling (without blaming them on others), and do whatever you need to make yourself and your community feel loved and supported.
Neither Trump nor Biden has the ability to save or destroy the world, and fights for justice will go on and on, regardless of who's in the White House So get some rest, get ready to fight, and celebrate a fair, clean victory for democracy.
Here's everything you need to know about Election Day 2020.
For many of us, it's been a very long, divisive four years. Finally, the end (for better or for worse) is in sight.
Today, November 3rd 2020, all remaining votes for the president of the United States of America will be cast. Most years we know who will be the next president by the end of election night, but like many things in 2020, this election will likely be different.
In fact, it's highly likely that we won't know whether Joe Biden or Donald Trump won the presidency tonight.
Most significantly, results will likely take longer than normal because more people than ever are voting by mail this year due to the global health crisis. It takes longer to count mailed in ballots because states have to verify signatures and other safeguards against voter fraud. Additionally, some states don't allow mail ballots to be processed until election day, and some states still count mail ballots received after election day as long as they're postmarked by election day.
Say what you will about this administration, but it has certainly mobilized voters. Prior to today, over 91 million Americans had already voted, a number that represents around 67% of the total ballots cast in the 2016 presidential election. By the end of today, experts believe we will see record-setting voter turn out.
Early Tallies Will Likely Be Misleading
Some states count the ballots cast on election day first, and experts believe these counts are likely to favor Trump, as his supporters are more likely to vote on election day. In contrast, other states count mail-in ballots cast prior to election day first, and these results are likely to favor Biden, as polls show that his supporters are more likely to vote by mail this year. Essentially, we are unlikely to get a clear picture of who won the presidency until all ballots are counted.
US Postal Service Delays
Due to delays in deliveries by the U.S. Postal Service, many are fearful that ballots won't arrive in time to be counted. To add to the injustice of this, Republicans, including Trump's camp, have been filing lawsuits to keep ballots delivered after election day from being counted.
To illustrate the magnitude of this problem, one can look to Michigan, where an appeals court has struck down a 14-day ballot-counting extension, meaning that voters are now being urged to drop off their mail in ballots in person. Courts have also ruled that extensions aren't allowed in Wisconsin and Indiana.
So when will we know who won?
We won't have a clear picture of who won until the swing states have been tallied. Here's when we can expect that to happen for each state.
Mail-in ballots can legally be counted in advance of election night in Florida, so we're likely to have an accurate picture of results tonight, which officials can release around 7:30 pm ET. However, if the election is close they may not call the state until Wednesday or Thursday.
State law in Arizona allows mail-in ballots to be counted up to two weeks before election day, so it's likely election officials in Arizona have a clear picture of mail-in ballot results already. Arizona early vote results and and mail-in vote results can both legally be released about 10 p.m. ET tonight, and election day votes will soon follow. We may know Arizona's results on election night, but if the race is tight they may not call it for several days.
We are unlikely to know Michigan's results on election night. According to NPR, "In Michigan, election officials in cities with more than 25,000 residents can start processing mail ballots on Monday at 10 a.m., sorting ballots and removing outer envelopes. They can't be counted, though, until Election Day."
"It could take until Friday, Nov. 6 for all ballots to be counted," the office of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson wrote on Thursday.
North Carolina has a very similar system to Arizona, so while we may know results on election night, its also possible it will take several days if the race is tight. 80% of voters already cast their ballots either through the mail or via early voting, but that remaining 20% who will vote on election day are more likely to be Trump voters.
"For the 20% or so of North Carolinians who vote on Election Day, we will be receiving those from the precinct and uploading those, as well," executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections Karen Brinson-Bell said on Thursday. "So, if there are really close races, those Election Day votes will tremendously matter in the outcomes of these elections."
We're unlikely to know the results of Pennsylvania on election night. Some counties may not even begin tallying absentee ballots until Wednesday. "We're sure it will take more time than it used to," Gov. Tom Wolf said Thursday. "We probably won't know results on election night." Luckily, Pennsylvania can accept mail-in ballots up to three days after the election as long as they are postmarked by election day.
We should know the results for Wisconsin by Wednesday morning (Nov 4) at the latest. They aren't allowed to pause election counting once its begun according to state law, so its likely election officials will work through the night in some counties to offer results by Wednesday morning.
In summary, it's likely we will not know election results for several days, unless it is such an enormous blow out (unlikely) that results become evident early. This could happen if Biden takes a key Republican state like Texas, but more than likely we'll just have to wait and see.
We spoke to five first-timers in states across the country about why this election matters to them.
With early voting winding down and election day still around the corner, Americans have already turned out in record numbers to cast ballots that will decide their nation's future.
And they've done so despite mounting barriers to voting access and while bearing the weight of collective traumas, from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to police violence against protestors and extreme weather events that have wreaked havoc on frontline communities.
"My anger factored into my decisions," Gwen, a 19-year-old voter from rural New York, admitted to Popdust.
Voter turnout is up this year because first-time voters are making voting plans, getting to the polls, and casting ballots in droves. Some have just become eligible to vote because of their age or as recently naturalized citizens, while others have never felt compelled to vote before but changed their minds this year. Popdust spoke to five first-timers in states across the country about why this election matters to them.
Note: These responses have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
Gwen, 19, she/her, New York
Gwen waited in line for more than two hours to vote at this polling location in rural New York. She says that several people gave up waiting in line and left before voting.
"It is my first time voting this year because I wasn't quite old enough last year at election time. This election determines whether my disabled wife and I will have to flee the country. We live in a rural part of New York, and conservatives live in every other house on our street. Voting was tough because I recently moved and had to change my county, and polling was not accessible — the lines were painfully long, and there was barely any seating for the elderly and disabled."
Gwen says she relies on this close group of friends and is afraid she will have to move away from them if Trump is re-elected.
Justin, 18, he/him, Michigan
"I'm voting for the first time because I am 18 and my mom taught me that it is important to vote. I also think that Trump is not a decent or good person, and he doesn't get things done. He just argues and name-calls everyone. But, to be honest, I don't expect much change with the next president. I would like to see them address things that matter, but politicians aren't listening to what young adults want. They worry about money and fundraising and making promises to people that pay them. I can completely understand why some young people don't vote.
I registered to vote in person at the township clerk's office and filled out and returned my ballot the next day. It was easy, and I didn't have to wait in line. If I had to go stand in line on election day, I don't know if I would have done it. I can see how long lines discourage voters. I can order something online and have it delivered to my house, and I can deposit a check with an app on my phone — why does voting need to be difficult?"
Miguel, 36, he/him, Massachusetts
"While I'm 36 years old, I decided now to vote for the first time. I'm voting because I feel every single American should be heard. I used to think it didn't matter and that things would just be what they are, but I realized that one vote could lead to others voting. I truly don't understand how there are so many celebrations now, when so much has been lost — so many lives, so many values. We need wholesome change."
Catrina, 18, she/her, California
Catrina says that her family always talked about how important it is to vote.
"I have grown up in a family that has always openly talked about politics, which is very unlike most families in America. Part of those discussions were always about how important it is to vote and make sure that one's voice is heard. Ever since 2016, and probably even before that, I have felt an urgency around voting. I remember looking at the results in 2016 and thinking, 'how are all of these people not voting?' It is really hard to be a teenager, just a few years away from voting, and watch so many people not vote. I counted down the days until I turned 18 just so that I could finally vote! The second I got my ballot in the mail, I started to fill it out. I was so excited.
This is really the most important election in recent history. We are at a crossroads in our country, and we need to make sure that we make the right decision about who we want to represent our country as president. Not only is the presidential election important, but there are so many amazing women and people of color running for office who that will be amazing if they get elected."
Jake, 18, he/him, Florida
Jake says that he wants elected leaders to address police brutality.
"I had been planning on voting for a while, but given how important this election is, I definitely needed to. I think we need to elect leaders who are going to value life over the economy and property, whether it comes to police brutality, the environment, or COVID-19. Our current leadership always chooses against the well-being of the general population, and that needs to change."
Selena Gomez, Swizz Beatz, Pete Souza, and many others have also contributed playlists to the initiative, designed to bring more happiness and hope to the voting process.
The election may be freaking you out, bumming you out, or just reinforcing what you already felt about America—but Joy to the Polls is trying to change that.
Too often, voting is a solemn, dread-filled experience. Long lines, high tensions, suppression, and the looming threat of COVID-19 have all made it uniquely difficult for people to get out to the vote in 2020.
But Joy to the Polls is based on the idea that it doesn't have to be this way—in fact, it shouldn't be this way. People have fought and died for our right to vote, and voting is our opportunity to create new beginnings in our nation. The process should be a celebration, not a nightmare.
"We have rampant voter suppression in the US," says Nelini Stamp, campaign director with Election Defenders and performer and organizer with Joy to the Polls. "We wanted to figure out a way so while people are outside of the polling station, we can bring them a feeling of safety and a feeling of joy."
Using the power of music and community, Joy to the Polls is an effort to rally and inspire as many people as possible on November 3rd. The group first gained notoriety when they sent artists to greet people voting early in Philadelphia, and a video of dancers doing the cha-cha outside a middle school garnered praise from Wanda Sykes and Ava DuVernay.
I love us so much. We rise. Always. https://t.co/bEySCGf2hr— Ava DuVernay (@Ava DuVernay) 1603658011.0
Since then, Joy to the Polls has launched a number of online and real-life efforts to make voting more joyful and musical. In NYC, punk rock legend Patti Smith was seen singing "People Have the Power" to a group of lucky early voters.
Their Spotify is also star-studded, complete with a number of playlists curated by high-profile musicians. So far, contributors have included America Ferrara, Billie Joe Armstrong, Busy Philipps, Hank Willis Thomas, Katie Couric, Kimbra, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Maggie Rogers, Marisa Tomei, My Morning Jacket, Questlove, Selena Gomez, and Swizz Beatz. Former president Barack Obama also contributed a list of throwback jams in honor of the cause. View the full list of contributors here.
Joy to the Polls is trying to reach as many people as possible across the country, and they're urging artists, performers, and community members to sign up to bring Joy to the Polls in their own way. Here's their national toolkit.
Joy to the Polls' number one focus (in addition to getting out the vote) is on making sure the election is fair and democratic. To that end, they're partners with Election Defenders, a movement dedicated to rallying leaders in local areas and defending the integrity of the 2020 election.
These movements were born out of urgency, in response to Trump's insinuations that he might not accept the election results, as well as ongoing voter suppression, ballot issues, and other problems that threaten democracy. Election Defenders has promised to organize peaceful mass mobilizations and strikes–if the election is not run fairly.
But none of that will be necessary if the election is run fairly. Joy to the Polls is trying to actually get people out to the polls to make sure this happens. Hopelessness is a major issue in America, and millions of people feel like their voices don't count or their fates are out of their control.
Every voice does count, and we all have the power to help elect local champions and create grassroots change. Short of that, it's still possible to dance and sing even in the most difficult of times. In fact, music tends to show up right when it's needed most—when things look most dismal, or when democracy is most frayed and revolution is most needed. In that respect, Joy to the Polls is operating in the revolutionary tradition of past radical creative traditions.
"It's understandable why people feel a lack of hope, or a lack of agency right now," said organizer Nelini Stamp. "But we are just trying to say, you know what? If we can make people feel good for 30 minutes in a two, three, or four-hour line, if we can help people show face and motivate more people to go out and vote? That is all worth it at the end of the day."
Check out Popdust's Joy to the Polls playlist here!