President-elect Joe Biden, joined by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, speaks at The Queen theater, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. [Carolyn Kaster/Reuters]
Joe Biden has been elected the 46th president of the United States, even though the electoral thriller continues with Donald Trump’s legal challenges. From his very first statements, the president-elect indicated that unifying a divided America will be his priority.
This will not be an easy task because the country faces unprecedented division. Neither side is listening to the other. In some extreme cases one even senses feelings of hatred. Biden took a step in the right direction by stressing that Republican officials and voters should be regarded as political rivals, not enemies.
The experienced former vice president is perhaps the ideal politician to bridge this divide and heal festering wounds. Having served in the Senate for 36 years, he has worked well across the aisle and knows many Republicans very well. He is also moderate and non confrontational by nature.
He is a centrist politically and his age makes it almost certain that he will not serve more than one term. This makes it easier for the Republicans to accept and work with him, as they know he won’t be running for re-election. Biden has succeeded in clinching the Democratic presidential nomination on his third try – he lost to Michael Dukakis in 1988 and to Barack Obama in 2008 – at the age of 78.
In the meantime, Kamala Harris has become the first woman – and a Black, Asian American too – to be elected vice president. Apart from securing a majority in the Electoral College, the Biden-Harris ticket also won the popular vote by a comfortable margin of more than 4.5 million votes, earning a total of 75.5 million – more than any other candidate in American history – to Trump’s 71 million. On a nationwide level, this is a lead of 3%, which further strengthens the legitimacy of his victory.
The outgoing president, however, shows no intention of accepting his defeat and has not congratulated his rival, in contravention of the customary practice in American elections. He insists on challenging the result in the persistently contrary spirit that defines his tweets and public statements, but also with a series of lawsuits that are part of a bigger plan based on the premise that the election was rigged in Biden’s favor.
This is a tactic that allows Trump to continue playing a starring role in the weeks and months ahead, both within the Republican Party and in the public eye, particularly given the likelihood of the judicial adventures that lie ahead for him personally with regard to his business activities and finances.