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  • Writer's pictureMegan Erin Lai

Hope for a Better America

I have vivid memories of watching the election results in 2016. I was a sophomore in college, I was living in the IWU theatre house (Blackstock), and I was glued to the TV screen.

Earlier that night, I'd gotten dinner with some friends in the dining hall and we made plans to watch the election together. One of my friends, who had voted for Hillary, jokingly said, "What if Trump wins?"

If only that had stayed a hypothetical situation.

Not long after dinner, I got back to my room and eagerly turned on the live results on my laptop. My friend Nick popped into my room a few times to join me, alternating who in the house he watched with. He also went around the house taking pictures of people's expressions throughout the night, unknowingly capturing moments before any hope was destroyed.

As the night went on and the race intensified, I joined him and our other friend, Will, to watch the results on Nick's TV. We kept holding on to hope as long as we could, but as electoral votes came in, our hope slipped away. We'd started the night joking around with each other while we watched, but ended up watching in near silence.

I still recall how gutted we felt when we realized Trump was going to win - even without the popular vote. The three of us were speechless and still. Then, Nick picked up his camera and took pictures of Will and I sitting immobilized in front of the TV - defeated and shocked - his collection of pictures from that night gaining a new weight.

The next day, there was a heaviness in the air all around campus. The theatre house, usually full of noise and vibrancy, was oddly quiet. My feet dragged through every step I took to class. At one point in the day, while I was sorting costume pieces in one of the theatre classrooms with my friends, Isaiah and Dom, we took a moment to just lay on the floor because of how miserable we felt. We felt hopeless. We were in mourning--and we still couldn't have predicted the magnitude of loss and destruction we'd experience in a Trump presidency.

All of these details aren't significant simply because that was the first general election I'd voted in. They're significant because to this day, going on 4 years later, I can still see myself in that small dorm room, feeling that shift in emotions, witnessing the first step toward a downfall in American history.

Watching the 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC) these past few nights took me back to the hope I'd felt watching Hillary accept the presidential nomination and talk about breaking the glass ceiling, which was later emphasized by Rachel Platten's "Fight Song"; this was later contrasted by the utter devastation I experienced watching Hillary concede to a disgraceful excuse for a human being.

I don't want to go back to feeling that loss. America can't afford to experience it again.

After three and a half years under Trump, I don't want to imagine the damage that another four years would allow.

Through watching all four nights of the DNC, my hope for a better America has been renewed. I don't expect perfection. I don't expect every issue I care about to be fixed right away--progress takes time and dedication. I do, however, believe that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the best chance our country has and that they will do all they can to make America a better place for everyone. I believe that they will do the work, take responsibility for their actions, and listen to people whether or not their ideologies match up. That's what America needs because that's what we're severely lacking with the current administration.

Especially while the USPS is under attack and Trump and his administration are trying their best to undermine our right to vote, we need to make our voices heard. We need to stand up for what's right.

We need to do everything we can to cast our votes for Biden and Harris.

Some people are angry and tired of hearing about politics, but progress is not made when you shut the door on what makes you uncomfortable. If you care about this country and the people in it, no matter their race, gender, religion, or background, you must vote. Voting is just one crucial step we need to take, and it's our responsibility.

I cannot wait to vote for Biden and Harris, and I pray that enough Americans, including anyone who happens to be reading this, will vote for them too and help us pave the path for a better America.


Links to find out how to vote:

For people in any state:

Learn more about Joe Biden and his campaign:

Official website:

Joe Biden's acceptance speech:


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