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‘We need change wherever we can get it’: Payton seniors hope for progressiveness from the incoming Biden administration

Chicagoans celebrated President-elect Biden’s victory downtown the evening of Nov. 7.

By Madison Bratley, Editor-in-Chief

Four anxious days after election night, CNN projected Biden winning Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral college votes, securing his victory over Trump and his new title: President-elect Biden. 

“I was up until probably 3 a.m. [on election] night and I was just sitting on my phone reloading the election [coverage],” said Grace Miller ‘21, a founder of the Chicago Public Schools chapter of Illinois Students for Biden. “I had to work a shift that night at the restaurant I work at and I was just not focusing at all. I was watching the TV the whole time. Customers were coming in and I wasn’t paying attention to them because I was so just fixated on the election and whatnot.”

On the Saturday morning that CNN announced their projection, Maya Khurana ‘21 was in an online class. “I just muted my mic and left. I think I just honestly logged out because they had taken attendance already, I was like, just turn on the news,” she said. Khurana voted by mail in support of President-elect Biden, but said Julián Castro was her first choice in the Democratic primaries because of his role in the Obama administration as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and she said he had “stronger policies for everything.”

Mina Cicekoglu ‘21 voted early and in-person for President-elect Biden but said Senator Sanders was her ideal candidate. She remembered her confusion towards people who chose not to vote in the 2016 presidential election expressing disapproval of the election’s outcome, and said she voted in this election to avoid placing herself in that situation for this election cycle. After voting, a process she said took less than 20 minutes, she said she felt “powerful” and “humbled.”

Instead of joining the crowds on Michigan Avenue, some people celebrated from their cars.

Not yet old enough to vote, Miller still wanted to support Biden, so she and Shayna Ellis, a senior at Jones College Prep, founded the CPS chapter of Illinois Students for Biden. About 90 students from eight different schools registered as members of the club and the group had a range of 15 to 20 students turn out to their phone banking events. Miller said she was “happy” that Biden was the Democratic nominee and said she thinks he is being pushed further left and is “more open” to updating his policy positions.

Dylan Partner ‘21, also not yet 18 years old, founded Payton’s chapter of Students for Bernie in January. However, he said Biden is “infinitely preferable” to Trump. “Besides just the deficiencies in [President Trump’s] personal character, he’s really made a lot of awful, awful changes to policy, a lot of which have really gone under the radar for a lot of people,” he said. Now, Partner leads Payton Young Democratic Socialists of America with Griffin Bonnin Jones ‘22. Bonnin Jones said he preferred Senator Sanders’ policies and thinks President-elect Biden is too moderate regarding healthcare and climate change, but he is still hopeful. “We need change wherever we can get it, even if it’s table scraps,” he said.

A Paw Print survey in October found that of Payton students both eligible and ineligible to vote, 88% would vote for Biden and Harris if they were able and 8% of students would vote for Trump and Pence.

President-elect Biden’s past support of the 1994 Crime Bill, which led to the era of mass incarceration, was hotly contested during the Democratic primaries. Miller said Biden has tried taking responsibility for his “musty past” and is hopeful that he has learned from it. Though she does not agree with Biden’s support of the 1994 Crime Bill, and though Biden was not her favorite candidate in the Democratic primaries, she continues supporting Biden because she said the Trump administration is against her views more often than Biden is. “I mean, you get on the train and you go to the destination,” she said. “You might not get the train car you want, or the first class seat, but you get what you get.”

Vice President-elect Harris’ controversial record as Attorney General was also a focus of the Democratic primaries. “As someone who is South Asian, it’s nice seeing yourself represented in politics,” Khurana said. “That’s great. Her past as Attorney General is not as great. But I’m hoping that there has been time for her to realize what she’s done wrong and that she’s going to be willing to listen to constituents and grow from there.”

Partner and Bonnin Jones want to continue taking political action after election season through their Payton Young Democratic Socialists of America club. “Voting, I think, is an important thing to do, but you also need to be putting pressure on politicians outside of that,” Bonnin Jones said. “Even though Trump’s gone, there are still crises that we’re facing, and I think it’s important that, even at a high school level, we have people getting involved to put pressure on our government to do a better job of addressing those things.”,

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1 reply »

  1. SO inspiring. Well done all. Even though I am Canadian and live in Vancouver, I’ve been just as obsessed with your election as you all are. We care a lot about our neighbours to the south. As I said, “Well done all”.

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