by Aryana Goodarzi

This presidential election meant a lot to many Americans. While most Americans were throwing themselves at the chance to vote, my mom didn’t. At least not right away.

My mom came to the United States from Iran, where one’s voice and vote are not nearly as momentous as they are here. Whatever politicians want will happen anyway, at least in Iran. But even since becoming an American, my mom has never been troubled to vote, which troubles me.

My mom has wrestled with her right to vote due to what she had seen in Iran, where votes mean nothing if a politician could overpower it at any moment. Where a vote in America is a decisionmaker, a vote in Iran is meaningless since there are only ever uncontested presidential elections. After knowing what this presidential election would mean to America and myself, my mom made sure to vote. Because not voting would be voting against Americans like me, an out lesbian woman of color.

After what most certainly felt like more than four days of vote counting, all votes were in. Joe Biden took both the popular vote and the electoral vote. Given all of the time that went towards it, presidential elections alone have seemingly become the sole most decisive moment to our civil rights. While this is true, it is not the whole truth. Taking the MAGAs out of America does not end at the ballot box, and it most certainly does not end with a new president. But we can lead with the Equal Rights Amendment.

Even with Joe Biden as our president-elect, it is not the end of racism, misogyny, and homophobia but a reminder that voting is our voice. In 2016 Donald Trump was not the loss of American politics, but rather a case of the systemic bigotry that is America at its truest. This necessitates using the momentum from the presidential election for the upcoming Georgia election.

Even with Donald Trump being voted out, the red states that became blue are still very much Republican. Many Congresspeople will continue to uphold “Trump’s America” as true. We have Biden and Kamala, but we need a Democratic Senate, which we will not have without Georgia. This could mean that we may not be able to get the Equal Rights Amendment through. We need to get voters to wrestle with their political identity and the struggle for human rights. We did it once, we can do it again.

Trump’s presidency exposed America for what it is: not just the MAGAs but the fact that Americans came together through Black Lives Matter and sexual assaults to say this, our right to confront, is what makes America the one my mom dreamt of. It is Biden as our president-elect that has also confirmed to my mom that this is the America she dreamt of: an America where your vote is your voice. My mom, among millions of other Americans, are your call to action, Georgians.

This presidential election really took it out of all of us and it’s finally over. But as I write, I still think about my mom. While everyone is throwing themselves into their couch, able to finally think about anything other than politics, I’m writing this to say: not yet; at least not until after you vote.

Aryana is an intern for the ERA Coalition/Fund for Women's Equality. She is passionate about people and fostering their voices. She hopes to do this through politics, by struggling for civil and political rights, particularly for the LGBTQ+, women, and people of color. 

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