My Friends and I Are Responsible for Joe Biden’s Victory
I personally know several people who were responsible for winning the election, and one of them might have been me.
It’s a bold statement, but hear me out.
Back in June, a friend of mine told me to calm down. “There’s nothing you can do,” he said. “You should meditate and accept that it’s out of your hands.” I was crumbling under the endless pressure of the news, and he was trying to soothe me.
“You’re wrong,” I said, frustrated that he wasn’t doing anything to actually help. “You know you could… ”
He cut me off. “Come on, you know one vote doesn’t matter.” I groaned. What an idiot, I thought. To be fair to my friend, even in states like Wisconsin or Georgia, it was never down to an actual single vote. But there is so much more to democracy than voting. There is protesting. Driving others to the polls. Writing postcards. Texting. Organizing events. Donating money. Calling voters. Campaigning, tweeting, speaking, and writing.
Many of my friends did all these things and more.
To anyone who did anything this time: This is our win.
One of my friends — I’ll call her Rebecca — was a volunteer leader running phone banks and training sessions across the country. While others were ignoring politics or treating it as sick entertainment, she encouraged me to train others to run phone banks, host phone banks of my own, and sign up for voter protection. I did.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been responsible for several phone banks, several hundred phone bankers, and several thousand calls. Talking to farmers and businessmen and retirees across the country, I heard dozens of stories about families who were voting for Trump, bitter Republicans, and silent racists. I didn’t believe Nate Silver or CNN. I was terrified we’d lose.
Tuesday morning, I woke up with a literal fever from the stress. My mom made me kashiya, an Indian drink, while I sent a dozen emails to other volunteer leads. I made calls all morning.
At noon, I led a phone bank. It lasted three hours and had over 200 participants. I made calls to recruit more phone bankers all afternoon, hunched over boba tea and crackers. The last phone bank I ran started at 7:30 p.m. We called Arizona and Wisconsin, then Nevada, then Alaska. We called until it was all over, and we were freaking out that this was going to be a slower, more painful repeat of 2016.
By 11:30 p.m., I worried that nothing I’d done had made a difference. As I thanked the other campaigners in my sad, overworked voice, I pretended to be more confident than I was. “Even if we lose,” I said, “One person does matter. One person has always mattered.”
When the dust finally settles, President-elect Joe Biden will receive more than 74 million votes, more than any other president in U.S. history. He has the support of more human lives and beating human hearts than any predecessor.
But it wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t a landslide. In fact, it was terrifyingly close.
In Arizona, we are winning by 20,000 votes. That is Cindy McCain’s win. Without her endorsement, we may not have swung that many voters who cared about the military, veterans, and traditional Republican values. She supported Biden in ads and speeches. She got out the vote. She fought for our democracy over her party.
In Georgia, we are winning by a few thousand. That is Stacey Abrams’s win. She transformed the electorate of Georgia from only old White men, ensuring Asian American, Black, and Latinx turnout. She fought unfair voter suppression that cost her the gubernatorial election in 2018. She is the country’s leading voting rights activist.
Across the nation, in critical states like Wisconsin and Michigan, we are winning by such narrow margins that many volunteer leaders were responsible for enough calls to make a difference.
In the last stretch, the Biden campaign made over 25 million calls. On the Sunday before the election, thousands of active volunteers made over 380 days’ time of phone calls. We knocked on over a million doors in Pennsylvania. Rebecca led hundreds of active volunteers. I was responsible for tens of thousands of calls.
Our work as American citizens, as protectors of the republic, will never be over.
Perhaps you too changed the course of history this year. Maybe you debated your conservative family two months ago, wrote a check to the campaign for $200 that went to a well-timed TV ad, or wrote an op-ed that was read by a hundred who went on to convince a thousand.
Because let’s be clear. To anyone who did anything this time: This is our win.
As Tuesday night turned into Wednesday morning, I was still on a Zoom call with 12 of the last phone bankers who lingered online, not wanting to fall asleep and wake up to the news of the death of our democracy. We chatted about our dogs and our hopes for the future. I curled my legs up and brought out blankets. My sister made me green tea.
The next day, I sent out details for more phone banks — ballot curing and voter protection in Georgia. I reminded people we have two special elections in the state to win. Then there will be midterms and then there will be the next presidential election. In between, there will be voter education initiatives, civil rights protests, and bitter court cases. Our work as American citizens, as protectors of the republic, will never be over.
We might have lost this election without McCain and Abrams, without LeBron James and former President Barack Obama. We might have lost this election without Twitter celebrities or without a sunny Tuesday in swing states.
And we also might have lost this election without you. Without Rebecca. Without me.
That is the power of our democracy. I’m so thankful we saved it.