UPDATE: President-Elect Biden tweeted a message and video to the country following the announcement of his win.
"America, I’m honored that you have chosen me to lead our great country," Biden wrote. "The work ahead of us will be hard, but I promise you this: I will be a President for all Americans — whether you voted for me or not. I will keep the faith that you have placed in me."
See the video, below:
After two previous attempts, Joseph R. Biden Jr. defeated Donald Trump in a close vote to become the 46th President of the United States, after what may be the most contentious election in a generation. Biden takes Sen. Kamala D. Harris to the White House to become the first Black and first woman of color vice-president with him.
CBS News called the race 273 to 213 for Biden at 11:30 a.m., opening a different future for an America that has grown sharply divided in its political landscape over the last four years. More states have yet to be called, however Biden was able to receive more than the electorial threshold of 270 needed to win the race.
The election drew more voters than any in history and both men got more votes than any candidate had ever had cast for a president. In the popular vote, Biden had 74,488,579 or 50.5 percent to Trump's 70,337,214 or 47.7 percent.
The former vice president, who served under Barack Obama, now faces the task of bringing the nation back together, finding a way to heal the various rifts over racism and social justice, turning around a fledging economy. While at the same time, create a national plan to manage better the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 230,000 Americans. Biden wants to target five elements, including testing and tracing, PPE supply chain, treatments and vaccines, reopening businesses and schools, and protecting older Americans.
The campaign, which was once considered an obscure longshot among a crowded field of Democratic contenders — including Harris — was boosted by African American voters in South Carolina during that state’s primary. Once Biden won the endorsement of Rep. Jim Clyburn, the highest-ranking Black legislator in the House of Representatives, he rode a wave toward the Democratic nomination, surpassing all other candidates.
In his first statement, the now President-elect Biden thanked the nation for placing its trust in him.
"In the face of unprecedented obstacles, a record number of Americans voted. Proving once again, that democracy beats deep in the heart of America," Biden said. "With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal.
"We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together," he said.
Biden’s victory was boosted by millions of early voters who took to the polls in some states several weeks before the election took place. In those locations, African Americans were motivated to cast their ballots because of multiple pressing social issues that affected the Black community ranging from the police killings of Black men and women to the coronavirus pandemic to racial rhetoric coming from President Trump himself.
In a Twitter message of his own, Clyburn congratulated and celebrated Biden's win.
"Congratulations to my good friend and a very good man. President Joe Biden will restore honor and hope in America as he leads us out of trying times," he said. "There are challenges and hard work ahead, but today we celebrate this important step toward a more perfect Union."
The 77-year old becomes the oldest person voted in as President but has no intention of resting on his laurels. He campaigned on the promises of a Build Back Better plan which includes manufacturing, a future with “Clean Energy”, modernizing caregiving, and racial equity as well as instituting a health care plan that would enhance Obamacare with increases to the tax credits to lower premiums and prohibiting health care providers from charging patients out-of-network prices when the patient has little to no control over which provider used. The Black community will also be looking for him to also repeal mandatory minimums at the federal and end-all incarceration for drug use alone. Instead, he says he will divert individuals to drug courts and treatment, decriminalize cannabis use and automatically expunge prior convictions.
In Pennsylvania, Biden's home state, and also the state that put him over the electoral top, people remarked his vote and the vote of others completed the legacy of so many that came before him.
“My vote counts because they had no vote,” Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler of Philadelphia’s historic Mother Bethel AME, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "They had no voice. They were used, but God has kept us here for such a time as this. And now the children of our ancestors are speaking in Atlanta, in Detroit, in Las Vegas, in Phoenix, and in the birthplace of democracy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.”
Breaking The Glass Ceiling
With a new president comes a new vice president. In this case, Sen. Kamala Harris is seen as the future of the Democratic party. The one-time prosecutor from California’s Bay Area had bid unsuccessfully for the presidency herself but ended her candidacy last December. However, as Biden drew closer to winning the nomination, he pledged to make his running mate a woman, and several women of color, including former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, California Rep. Karen Bass, and Florida Rep. Val Demings were on his short list. However, he made Harris his public choice in August.
Much of the election cycle was contentious, with the nation finding itself sharply divided over the race between Biden and Trump. The two candidates could not have been more contrarian, with Biden consistently using the pandemic as a reason for a voter referendum and outlining a plan for African Americans he dubbed “Lift Every Voice” after the Black National Anthem that included attacking the racial wealth gap, investing in Black wealth and entrepreneurship, ending discrimination in the housing market and fighting racial inequality in the school system among other points.
The Trump campaign countered with its “Platinum Plan” in which he pledged to create three million jobs in the Black community, and 500,000 Black-owned businesses as well as an improvement over the Affordable Care Act and secure streets. He also pledged to pursue the Ku Klux Klan and ANTIFA as terrorist organizations.
But Black voters, who have consistently voted majority Democrat for generations, did not deviate from historical patterns and supported the candidate who they were already familiar with from the Obama administration.
Both Biden and Harris have previously received criticism from skeptics early on. Biden sponsored the 1994 Crime Bill, which has been blamed for a heavy-handed approach toward African Americans landing a disproportionate number in the criminal justice system. Even though the Congressional Black Caucus supported the Bill at the time, Biden called elements of it a “mistake” during a town hall last month.
Harris has also been taken to task for her role as a prosecutor first in San Francisco and later as California attorney general playing a role in enforcing laws that have also placed a disproportionate number of Blacks, especially Black men, in the prison system. Nevertheless, as top prosecutor for the state, she instituted implicit bias training for police. As a D.A., she began a program allowing for the release of first-time offenders who complete job training. Since then, Harris has worked to bring about new legislation that addresses public safety reforms, including independent investigations into police misconduct, banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants for drug cases, and redistributing funds from police departments to invest in community-related efforts.
Moving The Nation Into A New Normal
On Jan. 20, a new president and vice president will be sworn in, and many may hope that the past four years can be rectified, if not erased altogether, but that is not likely to happen. The pandemic has left millions unemployed and left businesses hanging on by a thread if they survived at all. The workplace has changed with many people working from home and needing to monitor their children while participating in online learning from home as schools around the country manage the shutdown.
Climate change is pressing forward at an exponential speed, with many scientists predicting that by 2045, nearly 64,000 homes in Florida will face flooding every other week. Trump administration policies almost completely withdrew the U.S. from promising agendas like the Paris Climate Accord. Meanwhile, on an international level, the new administration is faced with where the country will go regarding U.S. military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, it would have to create new policies on China trade, North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and the tensions with Iraq.
And with that said, many policies implemented during the Obama administration will likely be safer under Biden. The Affordable Care Act will continue to provide healthcare for Americans who need it. Any challenges to reproductive rights policies, same-sex marriage, or criminal justice reform will not come from a Biden administration.
Still, Biden will be tasked with taking the nation into the mid- and possibly late-2020s, an age which is likely to see more jobs lost to automation and artificial intelligence, continued racial divisions as experts have been warning of more domestic terror attempts, as well as persistent issues of gun violence and violent crime in cities.
Biden was scheduled to speak to the nation at 8 p.m. Saturday, addressing the country along with the new vice president-elect.