2020 U.S. Presidential Election Reflection

On Saturday, November 7, 2020, former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris
were announced as President and Vice President elect. While America (and the world) watched
and waited after election day on November 3, I asked people to give me a song for how they were
feeling in this political moment.

“Revolution (Pts. 1 and 2)” by Nina Simone
Tuesday, November 3, 2020 at 11:45 PM
“Somehow I can’t believe that the presidential election is this tight. Even though I knew we
probably wouldn’t have results tonight, I still can’t focus. The U.S. and state legislative results
coming in are keeping me going right now. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna
Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush, Sarah McBride. The future.” – Emily, College Student

“Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” by ABBA
Thursday, November 5, 2020 at 10:39 PM
“Tuesday, I went to bed feeling dread about the decision that I thought that America had made
again. The way that things have progressed within the last 24 hours makes me feel like America
has a chance to redeem itself. Regardless of the outcome, I know the next couple of months will
be an uphill battle with COVID-19, but I think that this election could be the step forward that
we need to start making real progress.” – Nick, IT/Photographer

“Levan Polkka” by Loituma (you might know it as the song from leekspin.com)
Thursday, November 5, 2020 at 11:30 PM
“because my brain is fried and that is how I feel” – Kealie, College Student

“mad woman” and “this is me trying” by Taylor Swift
Thursday, November 5, 2020 at 11:42 PM
“I am in love with this album right now.” – Rebecca, College Student

“The End” by The Beatles and “The End” by The Doors
Friday, November 6, 2020 at 1:21 AM
“The End is near… Either for the election or the world… Maybe both.” – Luca, College Student

“Georgia” by Ludacris, Field Mob, and Jamie Foxx and “Georgia on My Mind” by Ray

Friday, November 6, 2020 at 4:54 AM
“I’ve been feeling an overwhelming amount of gratitude to the people of Detroit, Atlanta, and
Philadelphia.” – Anna, Postdoctoral Researcher

“Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” by Kate Bush
Friday, November 6, 2020 at 11:32 AM
“The way this song sounds, how upbeat it is, and the line “running up that hill” (out of context, at
least) for me feels very optimistic and victorious, and that’s how the feeling is going into a Biden
victory, returning to a sense of “normalcy”. But at the same time, what this song is really about
(originally) is men and women swapping their places to see what it’s like to be the other, and I think you could extend this to people from differing races, political parties, classes, and so on.
The margins by which Biden are winning are tiny, and I doubt much will change about how
divided the US is right now. So, the darker undertone of this election is that we’re nowhere near
any greater understanding, empathy, kindness, or love as a society. The line from the song “You
don’t want to hurt me / But see how deep the bullet lies” really hits home – when the bullet lies
that deep, you need to examine more underlying causes to get it out. And it’s going to take a long
time and a different kind of change to make genuine progress, to truly run up that hill.” – Zona,
University of Illinois Student

“Trouble” by Rayland Baxter
Friday, November 6, 2020 at 11:40 AM
“I believe this song is very much how a lot of people feel/felt in these past eight months. The
nation and bouts of the world have shown so much hatred and cruelty, it’s scary to think of the
future most of the time because of unknowns. I have hope still even though I am anxious,
stressed, saddened, and angered.” – Allyson, College Student

“Are You Falling” by Woo
Friday, November 6, 2020 at 1:44 PM
“‘Are You Falling’ rests squarely in that category of songs you only need to hear once—it has
the bone-deep unease you might expect from Aphex Twin in one of his more misanthropic
moods, and yet it lacks even the smallest trace of ambition. The sewing-corner hominess which
typically defines Woo’s music curdles here into paranoid, microtonal claustrophobia. As I listen,
I find myself always stretching to make some sense of the chaos. Sometimes I think I might have
done it, but the feeling quickly disappears. Although it looks like the election may finally turn
out for the better, the connection between “Are You Falling” and my general feelings this week
probably requires no further explanation.” – Anonymous, MA Student in Literary Studies

“How You Like That” by BLACKPINK and “In My Feelings” by Drake
Friday, November 6, 2020 at 5:41 PM
“If Biden wins:
‘How You Like That’ by BLACKPINK because, truly, “Karma come and get some.’”

“If Trump wins:
‘In My Feelings’ by Drake because, well… ‘This shit got me in my feelings.’” – Shana, Graduate

“Goodmorning – MTV Unplugged” by Bleachers
Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 11:15 AM
“We woke up to the best news.” – Abby, Registered Nurse

“Boogie Wonderland” by Earth, Wind & Fire, The Emotions
Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 11:39 AM
“I woke up to the news that Biden won, and I immediately got my roommates up too so we could
have a dance party over breakfast.” – Joey, College Student

“1 SIDED LOVE” by blackbear
Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 12:17 PM
“Hoping the results of this election can be the first step in bringing our country together as one.”-Jacob, Registered Nurse.

“just like magic” by Ariana Grande
Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 2:13 PM
“Because we finally won for America! Just like magic baby. Everything was meant to happen
exactly like this. We can only go up from here!” – Breanna, Social Media Coordinator

“Ribs” by Lorde
Sunday, November 8, 2020 at 4:32 PM
“I feel like my routine and my motivation to do anything was completely drained about seven
months ago. We’re all just sitting here in the middle of a pandemic and historic election in shock
– time is just passing and every day I realize I’m an adult with responsibilities in this terrifying
world. Being able to process all of this is so overwhelming. I just want to laugh until my ribs get
tough again.” – Faith, College Student

“thank u, next” by Ariana Grande
Sunday, November 8, 2020 at 4:52 PM
“‘thank u, next’ is the perfect description of how I feel about this election. Either way the
election would have went, things are not perfect. My vote counts for more than just me, my vote
is for everybody in my life that I love who are not awarded the privilege to vote. They have the
most to lose but are not awarded a voice in the process – and my vote is their vote. For me, this
election is a small victory because my existence will still be politicized. But seeing someone like
me, the child of an immigrant, gives me hope that we are heading in the right direction.” –
Vincent, College Student

“Freedom” by Beyoncé ft. Kendrick Lamar
Sunday, November 8, 2020 at 4:52 PM
“I chose Freedom by Beyoncé. I think this song describes how I felt about this election once we
knew who won. I think we as a nation have always moved towards more freedom, although too
slowly. This result once again proves that we are slowly moving towards great justice and
freedom. In the song, Beyoncé says “Freedom, where are you.” Even though we have won a
victory for freedom and democracy, we need to ask every day, “Freedom where are you?”
Because this was a small battle, but the fight isn’t over. We need to hold Biden/Harris
accountable. We need to keep pressing those in power to deliver freedom for all people that live
in America, citizens or not. We cannot sit back and stop paying attention to what people are in
power and what is happening to the powerless in this country. We must keep asking, “Freedom
where are you?” Even if you have already gotten yours.” – Divam, College Student

“Victory Celebration/End Title – Medley” by John Williams
Sunday, November 8, 2020 at 8:09 PM
“On top of an already rough 4 years, we had a long week filled with uncertainty. I think this song
just fills me with a sense of relief and accomplishment.” – Nathan, Videographer

About Emily Guske

Emily (she/her) is a first-year graduate student researching energy governance with a specific focus on the politics of the Dakota Access Pipeline in Illinois and Iowa. You can catch her browsing the record store, plugging away at her never ending to-be-read list, or dreaming about running through the streets of New York to David Bowie’s “Modern Love”.

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