The 2020 Election: How an Important National Event Affects a Small Town

Grace Goode, Staff Writer

2020–a year containing everything from a global pandemic, to international protests against racism, to a historic and divisive election. National elections occur rarely without controversy; however, for this election, controversy seems too small a word to describe it. 

Throughout their campaigns and debates, both Biden and Trump have employed character attacks and name-calling in efforts to discredit their opponents. But the real conflict came when Biden was announced as President-Elect, causing Trump to immediately contest the results of the election, claiming mail-in ballots were causing voter fraud. 

An election such as this one, with consequences both important and broad-reaching, is sure to affect countries around the globe–but what about small towns on the south shore of Massachusetts?

While Massachusetts has always been a reliably blue state, Scituate was fairly divided in this election; according to the town’s unofficial election results, the Biden/Harris ticket received 8,595 votes in Scituate, with Trump/Pence receiving 4,611. Driving through Scituate, it is not uncommon to see Trump/Pence yard signs, flags, and banners, along with Biden/Harris ones. SHS senior Haley Dockendorff points out that, “the fishing community in Scituate supports Trump.” 

With candidates representing a clear ideological divide, it’s not surprising the division is felt at Scituate High School as well. Dockendorff stated that as a result of the election, “there’s a lot of conflict between students…there’s a lot of tension.” Math teacher Philip Blake felt similarly, saying “Students and teachers alike are stressed and anxious. There is a lot of uncertainty.” Junior Claire Greene also felt this way, saying she noticed a “clear polarizing divide between people who supported Trump and people who didn’t.”

In an ideal world, the close of the election season brings some form of unity to the political landscape. Dockendorff is optimistic, saying Biden “will help start putting things together.” She also feels that Trump leaving office is a good thing for the country, saying, “Even if Trump does do good things for the country, it is always outrun by actions and the way he talks and instigates people….Biden tries to bring people together and not start a fight.” Blake, however, is not so certain about the impact of a new president, saying he “didn’t notice a ton of change in the town” when Trump won in 2016. However, he does however feel that “once both parties can agree [on the results of the election], we will have a more unified America.”

Dockendorff feels the response of the SHS administration was underwhelming. While Dockendorff says many teachers have devoted classroom time to the election, she says the administration “should be talking about it more. They don’t have to be partisan, but they should be encouraging kids to vote.” Blake feels the response has been “delayed” due to Trump and many of his supporters not accepting the initial results of the election, but overall says there “hasn’t been a ton of talk” at the school. 

Greene, who was in seventh grade when Trump was originally elected, felt there was not a huge shift in the town when Trump first took office. However, Greene claims the division became much more impactful once she reached high school, saying “everyone knew who was a Trump supporter and who wasn’t.”

While Scituate overall elected the presidential Democratic candidate in both 2016 and 2020, the margins this year significantly widened. In 2016, Clinton won in Scituate by just over 2,050 votes, while in 2020, Biden won by almost 4,000. Blake believes this shift is mostly due to the reaction to the 2020 pandemic, saying, “A turning point for many was how they were personally impacted by the lockdown,” especially considering Scituate’s economy relies on summer tourism and restaurants. 

Dockendorff, however, points to the push for social justice as reasoning for this year’s election results. She claims, “Trump has been ignorant to important issues,” adding, “his disregard for important subjects has angered a lot of people.”

Greene seconded these ideas, citing the recent Black Lives Matter protests and racial unrest in the country. Despite this, Greene reiterated Blake’s belief that the coronavirus response was “the final straw” in Trump’s loss. 

As the country moves forward, it is unclear if this election will unify Americans behind a new president, or continue to divide Americans along partisan lines. But it seems whatever happens in Washington, D.C., the people of Scituate will be watching.