Partisanship tears at the fabric of the nation as the election reaches a masthead. (Ash Catalan)
Partisanship tears at the fabric of the nation as the election reaches a masthead.

Ash Catalan

America Divided: Divisions remain after presidential election

Presidential election leaves conflicts unresolved, concerns arise about what will come after Trump

December 4, 2020

Seventy-three million people. This is the number of Americans that voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Although Joe Biden won 79 million votes, it shows that we are still a nation divided. According to the Associated Press, voter turnout this year may have been higher than any other presidential election since 1908. While approximately 145 million Americans all turned out to the polls, a deep and tense national divide still exists.

Edith Tinney

In conjunction with the divide, the uncertainty of our nation’s future has stirred feelings among many in the Akins community. Linda O’Neal, a social studies teacher who ran for City Council 2 years ago, had a number of pre-election anxieties.

First and foremost, she’s anxious that President Trump may not step down. She said she worries that he will “call on his supporters to get out in the streets and contest the election.”

“I think he’s going to really disrupt the system as much as he possibly can before we actually take him out,” she said. “I don’t think that he will win, but I don’t think that he will step down. The other anxiety that I have is that he does win. And that none of the people that I voted for or cared about, or the issues that matter to me, will get elected.”

Another pre-election anxiety of hers is that “it is a landslide and it is for Trump and that the norms that I think make a good society, a safe society, a happy society will no longer be represented,” O’Neal said. “I don’t know if this country can take another four more years of this craziness.” She says she’s easing these anxieties by constantly being in the moment.

Ash Catalan

“If you allow that stuff to come into your world, and you forget what is important, then you’re going to be incredibly anxious, you’re going to get really sad,” she said. “And I just think it’s really important to be in the moment, to breathe. Remember that everything will be OK because everything always ends up being OK.”

Junior Alyssa Casas said her anxieties were high because of how openly hostile Trump is. “I’m just scared that no matter who wins there will be a huge reaction from both sides. That there will be post-election violence.” As a young person, Casas said she cares about “having a president who believes in science and that doesn’t spread hate or cause a divide within the people.”

She said she is also concerned about the need to improve the United States’ healthcare system. “At this moment, I think having an option for private healthcare and free general health care for the country would be best,” she said.

Social studies teacher Chad Timmons said he was anxious about discussions from leaders who are disputing the legitimacy and validity of the election results. “I am also fearful of any potential civil unrest that might occur after the results are announced,” he said.

“My anxiety is fueled by the increasingly divisive rhetoric around the elections. I’ve also been digging into misinformation campaigns on social media, and how the profit models for social media companies are based on outrage, which contributes even more to our polarized attitudes.” Timmons is easing his anxieties by exercising, journaling, spending time in the outdoors and with his children, without digital distractions.

Results from the Austin ISD 2020 mock election for Akins conducted before Election Day and distributed via BLEND show Joe Biden (Democrat) winning 229 votes, Donald Trump (Republican) winning 33 votes, Howie Hawkins (Green) winning 16 votes, and Joe Jorgenson (Libertarian) winning 15 votes.

Timmons said he has deactivated most of his social media accounts. “I’ve come to the realization that they are the source of a lot of my stress and anxiety, and it’s not improving my quality of life,” he said.

After the results of the election were released, The Eagle’s Eye sent out a survey to gather reactions from the Akins community and gathered many responses among staff and students. While the majority of those surveyed indicated that they were satisfied with the results of the presidential election, approximately 11.5 percent indicated that they were not.

Freshman Isaac Naranjo said he was for Trump, but he doesn’t have a strong opinion. “My reaction was more of: Well, darn.” Another freshman, Brenden Kelly, when asked if satisfied with the results of the election, said that he wanted Trump to win, but as he learned more about them, he was “more on Biden’s side.”

Edith Tinney

When asked what the president should focus on to politically unite the country in the first 100 days, Kelly said that the president should “focus on the racism problem” and that he should “get the riots to stop.”

Senior Nicholas Pannell said that he was satisfied with the results of the election. Pannell said that the president should focus on speaking to everyone — not just his supporters — during his first 100 days in office to politically unite the country.

In his survey response, Pannell wrote, “Our country is more divided than ever, and it is his job to speak to what both parties want. I have heard he is really good with compromises, and as long as we work to reunite the people, we will be in a good spot.”

Junior Kevin Barcenas, also said he was satisfied with the results of the election, said that his ultimate reaction was “relief, a sense of hope that with persistent activism change can happen.”

If you can read, if you can write, and if you can use your voice, you are the most powerful person in the room. Especially now.”

— Linda O'Neal, Social Studies Teacher

However, he added that he knows that there won’t be change just because a new president is elected. Although some said they were relieved that Biden won the election, they were disappointed that Trump won as many votes as he did, saying that the election results were not as strong of a rebuke of Trumpism as they wanted. This leaves them believing that Trumpism will go away immediately.

O’Neal cautioned that just because Trump lost the election to Biden, that doesn’t mean that things are going to change right away. In order to implement change, the voices of this country need to be heard.

“If you can read, if you can write, and if you can use your voice, you are the most powerful person in the room,” she said. “Especially now. I want to make sure that my students have the skills to first do that, to be able to use their voice well, even if they are a Trump supporter. Just use your voice in the most positive way.”

Akins students share reactions to presidential election results

Below are some of the additional responses from the Election Results Reactions Survey that The Eagle’s Eye gathered from Akins teachers and students.

Place your cursor on the response section and then scroll down to see more responses.

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Heba Dalu, Editor-in-Chief
Grade: 12th

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Why do you enjoy being on staff? I love being able to give other people a voice and building my graphic design/journalism skills.

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Ash Catalan, Graphics Editor
Name: Ash Catalan

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Why do you enjoy being on staff? I get to practice my drawing skills, and explore how to convey themes and ideas through art.

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Hopes & Dreams? To make a living through freelance art, doing tattoo work, and, in general, be able to do what I'm passionate about without losing the drive and be stable.

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