Enthusiasm is a choice

From horror to enthusiasm

Ken Shirilla

He is "appalled that fascism is an option for a large part of the population," and "disappointed in my neighbors," says Ken Shirilla. He means the people of Youngstown, the old working class town in the Mahoning Valley in eastern Ohio. The district voted for Trump on Tuesday with a narrow majority. In Trumbull County, bordering to the north, Trump gained a majority in 2016 and now even more votes. Shirilla used to drive the 20 miles north to the General Motors factory in Lordstown every day. He started the assembly line job as a student, but then never finished his studies, partly because the salary at General Motors was so good. And of course he was a member of the United Auto Workers union. "You never got a job without it."

The factory closed in 2019, many workers moved - it was the end of a long decline and another blow to the deindustrialized region. Trump had promised the jobs in 2016 that the jobs would return with him. "It's what they want to hear," says the early retiree about union members who are now voting for Trump, even though the city used to be firmly in Democratic hands. Shirilla “spent election day outside and enjoyed the good weather”. He had already voted three weeks in advance by early voting. “I feel like a stranger in my own hometown. I haven't changed, the people around me have, ”he says.

Actually, his favorite in the Democratic primary was Kamala Harris. "The old white men decided long enough where to go," says the 67-year-old. He would like the Democrats to introduce "Medicare For All," a universal state health insurance system. "That shouldn't depend on whether you have a job." One of the reasons Shirilla and many others liked the job at General Motors: The good health insurance the union had fought for its members.

Nia Jackson-McCure

"I'm so excited that Joe Biden might win Georgia," says Nia Jackson-McCure. On election day, she initially had difficulty finding the entrance to the polling station hidden at the back of a school because "there were no signs until noon, as a polling station employee told me," said the 30-year-old, who works as a consultant for small business owners on loan applications . This immediately aroused a suspicion in her that the Republicans in the conservative southern state wanted to "make it difficult" to vote again for the inhabitants of the black metropolis of Atlanta. Black women like her are among the Democratic’s most trusted voters. The significantly increased African American voter turnout compared to 2016 was a decisive factor in helping Joe Biden to victory in Michigan and Wisconsin. In Georgia, Biden was ahead by a few thousand votes on Friday afternoon after Donald Trump's lead had previously shrunk, mainly due to the counting of postal votes from Atlanta.

Jackson-McCure's family did their part. "My brother drove people to the polling stations," she says. There was "a lot of organizing" in Atlanta and Fulton County. She disagrees with everything "what the Democrats are doing," but says: "We have to get the pandemic under control." Above all, however, she wants "politicians who look at people first and not just the economy" - and a police reform. "I am not in favor of the complete abolition of the police, but the money that is pumped into there should rather go to the community." They now have three black sheriffs in Atlanta "for the first time." "We are making progress".

Jim Bleil

Jim Bleil has a difficult relationship with his neighbors - and he's scared. He's gay, lives in the country in "Trump Country" north of Pittsburgh. Between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is "like Alabama," as the saying goes. In the "wild" part of Pennsylvania, deer walk through the garden at night, there is a lot of forest, hilly to mountainous, barely populated land and Trump flags hang in front of many houses. Red farmhouses with grain silos and fields complete the picture of conservative country idyll. There are chickens running around in Bleil's front yard, his wooden veranda is no different from that of his neighbors, he and his partner appear inconspicuous.

They didn't put their Biden Harris "yard sign" on the street, just hung them in the window - next to the "We're Team Stay Home" pennants. You take the pandemic seriously. "Nobody else has come into the house since March," says the retired teacher, who used to take in exchange students. He belongs to a dying breed of rural Democrats and stood in line at the polling station surrounded by his Republican neighbors on election day. Nevertheless, people like him have made sure that Donald Trump does not win too much in the countryside and thus trumps the high number of votes for Biden in the cities.

"Some neighbors surely suspect that we are gay, that we are not just two men who live together," he says. He is afraid of the hostile climate in the country. Even before that, the 72-year-old and his partner owned weapons, "only for defense". Now he's bought some more ammunition and pepper spray, just to be on the safe side. A few days ago he had an argument with a neighbor about abortion. “It got heated, then I finished it and said I'm going in now and you'd better leave the property,” says Bleil. He would like Joe Biden's support for more education in the country and better health care.

Ana Perez

Ana Pérez spent election day volunteering outside a polling station in Austin, told voters about a Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) city councilor Greg Cesar. "Many did not know him, but were open to his suggestions - he made his reelection with a landslide victory," says the young Latina and DSA activist. She consoles herself about the worse than hoped performance of progressive and centrist Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives, the Senate and Joe Biden with the fact that "our city has finally voted for the introduction of a light rail system."

Pérez comes from a political family: "All hardcore Democrats, everyone gossip about a Trump-loving cousin," she explains. The public relations student "doesn't see herself as a democrat," but had hoped the party would do better. Especially for the state parliament, "because the reactionary Republican majority restricts many local, left-wing initiatives from there," she explains. “It's extremely worrying that Biden has only just won. This shows that we as the DSA have to organize the working class ourselves «. In the USA in 2020, it will be increasingly diverse and Latino-influenced. Less support from the community - by no means all "hardcore Democrats" - than for Clinton in 2016 is probably the reason why Joe Biden lost the election in Florida, North Carolina and Texas. Pérez says: "The Latinos I know who don't like Biden just didn't vote," in the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas, for example, south of San Antonio, where part of the Pérez family still lives.

Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, had done particularly well in the area code among Latinos with his left-wing populist program, actively courting them. "The community has less internet access, so there is a door-to-door election campaign," explains Pérez. Team Biden did not do that in the pandemic - and was punished for it, says the 29-year-old. The democratic socialist would like the introduction of universal health insurance and the abolition of the deportation authority ICE. However, she expects "at least one electoral reform" from a Biden government. On the evening of the election, instead of watching CNN, she followed the election successes of other DSA candidates in a Whatsapp group and on Twitter.

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