Election night unfolded as one more anxious chapter in a year characterized by bitter partisan resentment and successive national crises.
As states wavered between blue and red on projection maps and the vote count dragged on throughout the week, tensions only increased. In absolute numbers, more people voted in 2020 than ever before, but the results seemed to crystallize the deep divisions in the country – over the virus, the economy, race issues and even how to properly count votes.
For anyone trying to understand the will of the people, the past week offered little clarity. The only common ground, it seems, was the vast majority who told exit polls that they felt the country was heading in the wrong direction.
And even. Voting is fundamentally an instrument of optimism, a chance to shape the future of your community and your country. On Tuesday and in the days leading up to the election, Americans lined up in record numbers to vote.
We told them about their hopes for the country – regardless of the outcome of the election. What did they want for America? They spoke of equality, of opportunity and of coming together as a nation. Here are some of their responses.
Franklin County, Ohio
– Tyra Jackson, 51 –
“My hope for America is for the children. They have to go back to school. They are our future. They need to see a more respectful and responsible leader. “
– Brandon Dougherty, 21 –
“It seems like there is so much chaos right now with the pandemic, and it seems there are so many racial differences. I think we need the right leader to bring us together rather than separate or divide us.
Candler, North Carolina
– Wayne Metcalf, 70 –
“I just wanna see us come back together, you know?” And be one people and get along together.
North Charleston, South Carolina
– Byron Jackson, 20 –
“I just want the best for America. I want it to be in the hands of a good person who can run the country, who can give us what we need.
– Laura Vasquez, 31 years old –
“We need equality. This is the problem above all else. Everyone is bickering. It’s you, it’s us, it’s them. They do this, they do that. Everyone must take responsibility for their actions. “
– Kristin Haynes, 44 –
“I hope we regain our humanity, that we find a way to be kind to each other and have empathy in general. I’m in dire straits right now in terms of what’s happened to this country, and a lot of it has come from a black man. I have never seen this total lack of respect for differences.
– Malinda Hood, 71 years old –
“My hope for the country is freedom for faith, peace and goodwill towards all people. I hope abortion will be abolished in the future.
– Theresa Thompson-Liggins, 55 –
“I want to make America great again, but not at the cost of lives and jobs because I own a small independent business and have been affected by the pandemic. He’s knocking at home now. I want America to be awesome again, no matter who wins. It is not us. “
Charleston, South Carolina
– Emily Bonn, 28 years old –
“I hope people will see that the medical leaders who are trying to guide us are trying to get us through something absolutely horrible. My father is a doctor and I am getting into medicine. It’s really disheartening to see people stop listening to those who are trying to keep us healthy and safe.
– Mickey Rainwater, 49 –
“Hopefully we can get back to the track where people aren’t so focused on the race and treated differently and work as a team again. You can’t have a great nation without the whole team working together. Football, basketball – you can’t have a good player and have a great team. We have to work together. “
– Bob Brown, 78 –
“I want to see the virus beat as fast as possible. I want to see all the soldiers go home. I hate players on their knees for the national anthem. They do not respect the flag. I am very proud of my country and of my service. “
– James Couch, 35 –
“I am tired of Covid-19 so I hope the country can pass. It has been the worst time of our lives for us, and I want it to improve and the economy to improve. “
– Margarite Bergeron, 22 years old –
“I want equality and I want women to be as powerful as the way they describe men. They greatly reduce the number of women. I was a firefighter for three years and had a lot of bullshit because I was a woman and I did it as well as them. So what I want to see is equality.
Candler, North Carolina
– Clyde Nance Jr., 71 –
“I want people to have harmony and love for each other in the country. I would love to see people go back to work, take care of their families and everything.
– Adam McKay, 35 –
“I would like to see a lot less fighting, but on top of that, I would also like to see the middle class go up a bit. I would like to see our debt go down. I wish we could work a bit more on this freedom of expression, be able to say whatever you want without having to bite your head.
Charleston, South Carolina
John Payne, 44
“It is more and more difficult to live in this country. Those essential workers that we need – not just hospital workers, but hotel workers, restaurant workers too – can’t afford to live downtown anymore. When I was a kid, everyone lived downtown, every race – everyone lived together. There is no more diversification. “
– Kelsey Youells, 24 –
“For me, what is important is to be able to respect the points of view of others without denigrating them. I hope that as a country we come out of this election and realize that while we may not be happy with the outcome, it’s four years and it’s your civic duty to vote, and you can do it again in four years and make your voice heard again.
– Phyllis Minsuk, 82, and Les Minsuk, 85 –
Phyllis: “I want peace on the inside and peace on the outside. I want the country to become a caring, loving and concerned citizen again, where we truly live so that we can support each other.
Les: “I wish we were sane again.”
– Diana Rivera, 34 years old –
“I want this economy to grow, to be able to support undocumented migrants, for Latinos to be able to unite with all other races and with the whole country so that they can come together and provide a better future for our future generations. “
St. Clair Shores, Michigan.
– Burnett Ashley, 68 –
“I would like to see the country united, and I would like to see more conservative values.”
– Eric Zollinger, 46 years old –
“I hope we all come together and there is no toxicity; that somehow we realize that we have more in common than we have different. I have been fortunate enough to live in several different states throughout my life, and the common thread is that we are all good people at heart – at least I hope so.
– Jairee Tannan, 19 years old –
“I want America not to see us as animals, can you feel me?” I want everyone, when they look at me – I don’t want them to look at me like a black man. I want them to see me as an individual.
– Ginger Sykes Torres, 40 years old –
“I really want my kids to go back to school safely. Personally, my main concern at the moment is the Covid epidemic, and I hope that it can be brought under control in the year to come. Also, I am an American Indian, I am Navajo and I hope that in the next few years Native Americans will have a greater seat at the table with governments, especially our federal government, which has not been ideal over the past four years. . “
– Ruth Dolash, 89 years old –
“We have more hatred in this country than we need. I would like to do my part to get rid of it. But I don’t know where to start.
Gabriella Angotti-Jones, Ruth fremson, Kathryn Gamble, Brittany Greeson, Tamir Kalifa, Calla Kessler, Maddie McGarvey, Lynsey Cameron Pollack, Juan Diego Reyes, Hilary Swift, Lynsey Weatherspoon and Adriana Zehbrauskas contributed reporting.