Since the inception of this blog in May of 2018, I’ve spent a good part of my time detailing the defeated current president’s misconduct and criminality. Not today.
I’ve also spent some time lamenting how Democrats are sometimes their own worst enemy, biting and sniping at one another instead of relishing victory, which we’re starting to see play out as we speak. But not today.
No, today is about Joe Biden and how, despite incredible odds and massive voter suppression, managed to achieve a resounding victory to become the 46th President of the United States.
And let’s not undersell this, folks. When it’s all said and done, Biden will most likely have 306 electoral votes in his column, as well as winning the popular vote by 5 million. We should give him his due and celebrate this victory to the fullest extent.
But perhaps more than anything else, what’s been even more impressive is how Biden has conducted himself these last six days. The man is rising to the occasion, just when we needed him to the most.
As election night unfolded, I began to get the same uneasy feeling as the returns rolled in back in 2016. My stomach was in knots, my heart was racing, and I started to get a sense that something terrible was about to happen again.
But then right before I went to bed, sometime around 1:00 am out here on the West Coast, I heard the news that Biden had taken the lead in Wisconsin. Finally, some good news. It wasn’t over – not yet.
And then the following morning brought even more encouraging news. Biden was gaining, little by little. Pennsylvania, which had Trump up by over 500,000 votes at one point, began to count all of the mail-in ballots, which turned out to favor Biden by wide margins.
As is often said, the rest is history. But throughout the last few days, I’ve started to see Joe Biden in a new and different light. When the smoke began to clear, Biden made his first statement, calmingly reassuring his supporters that he was poised to win this race. We had to be patient, though. Once the count is complete, he said, he’d be the next President of the United States. I needed to hear that.
To see his confidence and determination, his steely resolve and dignified presence – only made me appreciate more the stark differences between the two candidates. They were apparent even before the election but to see it all play out in this manner made the victory that much sweeter.
All of Biden’s speeches and statements since the election have struck the right tone. He’s saying all the right things, even extending an olive branch to the 70-plus million Americans who voted for his rival. He’ll be their President, as well – not just those who voted for him. Not once did we ever hear anything similar from the defeated current president – not after his win in 2016, nor in the ensuing four years.
Pledging unity and aggressive action to confront the immense challenges awaiting him highlighted Saturday night’s victory speech. But so did his acknowledgment and appreciation to the African-American community.
That community brought him back from the brink of defeat during the primary season and was central to his victory on election night. They had his back; now he’ll have theirs. I thought it was one of the most poignant and emotional moments of the night.
On more than a few occasions in this space, I’ve said that Joe Biden was not my first choice to win the Democratic nomination. Senator Elizabeth Warren, I thought, was the most qualified candidate at the time. Even today, I think she would have made an excellent president.
But that point is moot right now. Now more than ever, it’s clear that Joe Biden was the right candidate to defeat Donald Trump. He brought together a remarkable coalition of minorities, young people, suburban women, independents, Republicans, progressives, and moderates.
In America’s Wake-Up Call, the project my good friend Jill Dennison and I collaborated on, I asked the question: Can Joe Biden Unify the Country? I wrote back then that Joe was the best, and perhaps only candidate well equipped to succeed in that endeavor. What we’ve seen so far since the night of the election makes me think I was right on that one, although I think we can all agree the task will be arduous.
It’s been quite an impressive performance, folks, and for that, we must commend his campaign and team for a job well done. But let’s give credit for where the credit for where it’s due the most: to Joe Biden himself.
He’s risen to the occasion when many, including myself, doubted his ability to get it done. It turns out, as CNN political commentator Van Jones so emotionally put it the other day, that character matters – and so does telling the truth and being decent.
Millions of Americans agreed, and soon we’ll get to see how the new President will navigate the troubled waters he will inherit.
But I’m heartened from what I see so far. Today isn’t about rehashing the disastrous Trump presidency or how progressive or moderate a new Biden administration should be. It’s about congratulating a good man and lifelong public servant on a job well done.
In the coming months, we’ll have plenty of time in this space to debate the way forward. From the beginning, I’ve tried to establish pronounced differences that exist between our two main political parties. That is not going to change, especially as we witness in real-time the continued capitulation to Trump and Trumpism by the Republican Party.
But for now, we celebrate one of the most critical election victories in our time. If his performance since being elected is any indication of how the next four years is going to play out, Joe Biden has a real chance to be a transformational president.
Yes, even for Trump voters.