Above Photo by Bob Gatty of Former Vice President, now President Elect Joe Biden addressing an Horry County crowd during the 2020 primary election campaign.
For so many, it was hard to contain the excitement when Joe Biden was declared the winner of the election. Despite calls not to gloat, there is a national celebration going on. And why not? Why shouldn’t people be jubilant over these results?
Four years ago, we were told “You lost. Get over it”. Like the also-ran in a World Series, there is the inevitable “Wait til next year” response. Next year was actually four years later, but like that team that gained a measure of revenge, their fans deserve to celebrate a victory.
We were told, Trump is your president, despite the fact he never strayed from the base that got him elected in the first place. And therein lies the fatal flaw in his re-election strategy. By believing the adoring crowds at his super-spreader rallies represented all Americans, Trump embraced the delusion that he had overwhelming support.
When he is inaugurated on January 20, 2021, Joe Biden will be facing twin crises. No doubt the coronavirus pandemic will still be raging, and the economy will still be struggling. Not since FDR has a president faced a situation this dire.
Unlike his eventual predecessor, Joe Biden is listening to the experts, and has already formed his own Coronavirus Task Force. Biden also has a plan to rescue the economy; something Trump has dragged his feet on as he watched his poll numbers dwindle. Instead of focusing on these crises, Trump chose to focus on re-election and hold large rallies, while criticizing Biden for “hiding in his basement”.
There is a sense of loss with a certain segment of the population. After all, Trump did garner over 70 million votes, which means he received the second most votes of any presidential candidate (Joe Biden took first).
So, there will indeed by millions of Americans undergoing “Twitter withdrawal” as Trump’s numerous Tweets provided them with a sense of direction, albeit a misguided one. The division caused by four years of relentless abuse of power will not simply go away with a new administration.
Unlike his predecessor, who sowed division, Joe Biden has pledged to be a “president for all Americans”. This will be difficult for Trump supporters to accept. Distrust has been the hallmark of the Trump administration. Conspiracy theories and the shadowy “Deep State” have permeated the psyche of those on the far right. Getting them to believe that a Biden administration is trying to help them goes against the paranoia that they’ve lived with for the past four years.
America is broken. It is a country in crisis, beset by enemies, both foreign and domestic. In order to heal, there needs to be a great unifier. Joe Biden has sworn to be that unifier. He has pledged to listen to both sides and be a president not just for those who voted for him, unlike the current Divider-in-Chief, but those who didn’t.
Despite the rhetoric of these past four years, America was already great. And we can be again. Lacking a concession speech, those on the right will have to learn to trust. When they do, and the country has a unified purpose, America wins.
Now, There is Hope
Yes, America has repudiated Trump’s hateful, hurtful presidency and in that act has given us hope that reconciliation, empathy and compassion can help to bring us together and make us a better country. It took a while, and there were some scary moments, but roughly 75 million Americans said no to Trump and everything he stands for.
It was appropriate that even before the race was finally called, Trump headed to the golf course, apparently his place of solace when times are tough. And, before he returned, it was over, and the celebrations began.
Pitifully, Trump refused to concede and his campaign managers told supporters to stand by, saying the race was not over, and they should be prepared to mobilize at a moment’s notice.
“He is in this fight. He is in this fight…These are razor thin margins. We are not giving up the fight in these places. We are not giving up the fight,” said Bill Stepien in a call with campaign officials.
And Trump tweeted: “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!”
However, all of that is irrelevant. Whatever he and his crime family does no longer matters. They no longer matter, and eventually could even find themselves in handcuffs, in a perp walk on their way to prison. Trump can pardon himself from federal crimes, but he can’t do that on state crimes, and in New York the criminal case against him is in the works.
The fact is that on January 20, 2021, Joe Biden will be sworn in as President of the United States and Sen. Kamala Harris, a woman of color, will be sworn in as Vice President of the United States. In fact, when Biden makes his first State of the Union Address, seated behind him will be two women — Vice President Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. That, alone, will be a moment of history.
Sen Kamala Harris during a campaign stop when she was seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination. Photo by Bob Gatty.
So, it was no wonder that the streets in Washington, DC, New York City, Wilmington, DE, Philadelphia, PA and other cities around the country filled with joyous celebration. In Washington, on the very street where protestors of the police shooting of George Floyd were tear gassed by federal agents so Trump could have his infamous Bible toting photo op, there was dancing and jubilation.
There is hope because instead of hate and division, the focus of our new president and vice president will be on kindness, healing and unity.
But aside from those hopeful words, we know that finally responsible action will be taken to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control and thus save thousands of lives that otherwise would most certainly be lost. Biden already has acted to form a special task force of experts to help chart his course.
We know that the fight against systemic racism will be waged at the highest level of our government, instead of having its very existence denied. No longer will we have a president who defends hateful racial actions of White supremacists and their efforts to intimidate and incite as they seek to preserve their hateful prejudices of the past.
We know that we are done with policies that have placed at risk our environment in the midst of our climate change crisis, and that health care for all Americans will be protected.
We know that the fight for equality for all people will now have strong allies at the highest level of our government. And, we know that his priorities will include immigration reform, and eliminating the Trump tax cuts of 2017, which largely benefitted the wealthy, with that money to be used to improve health care coverage.
We know these things because they are among the priorities that Biden and Harris discussed in their campaign.
We know, too, that with Vice President Harris, a Black woman will be second in command and first in line for the presidency. And so, there is justifiable jubilation from women and African Americans who rightly recognize the importance of their support in sending the Biden-Harris team to the White House.
But we also know that control of the Senate is still in Republican hands, depending on the outcome of two runoff elections in Georgia, and that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may well be calling the shots in the upper chamber with help from South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, who is expected to chair the Senate Budget Committee if Republicans maintain control.
Remember when McConnell vowed to do everything possible to sabotage the presidency of Barack Obama? There is no reason to expect that he will not do the same thing with President Biden, hoping to make him an ineffective, one-term president — regardless of the harm that does to the nation.
We also know that Trump will not go quietly into the night. While no-one actually expects the Secret Service to have to evict him from the White House, there is every reason to expect he will continue his irrational fight to somehow subvert the results of the election and retain power.
In the end, though, the American people have spoken. They have given their verdict. They have voted for an end to division and hate and have embraced hope for a better America. They have voted to heal the soul of our nation.