After a day of nationwide celebration, in which people took to the streets of America’s cities in unbridled joy over the election of a new Commander-in-Chief, President-elect Joe Biden spoke for the first time since the election was called in his favor Saturday morning (Nov. 7).
“Folks, the people of this nation have spoken,” said Biden in a victory address to a crowd assembled socially distanced in their vehicles in the parking lot of the Chase Center at Wilmington, Del. “They delivered us a clear victory, a convincing victory, a victory for we the people.”
Biden’s campaign to defeat President Trump 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 74,550,291 or 50.5 percent to Trump's 70,380,537 or 47.7 percent.
Because the election was so split among a sharply divided country, Biden spoke of the need for healing and reconciliation, even as many — including Donald Trump — insisted that the election was won under nefarious circumstances. Biden urged those who did not vote for him to unite with those who did to move the country forward.
“Tonight we’re seeing in cities all over the country a celebration of joy and renewed faith,” he said. “I pledge to be a president that seeks not to divide but unify, who doesn see red states or blue states, only the United States.”
An Introduction By History, Personified
Prior to Biden’s speech, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris came onto the stage to introduce Biden. Wearing a white pants suit and walking out to Mary J. Blige’s “Work That,” Harris invoked the late congressman John Lewis. She said before his passing he wrote, “democracy is not a state, it is an act.”
“And what he meant,” Harris explained, “was that America’s democracy is not guaranteed, it is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it, to guard it, and never take it for granted. And protecting our democracy takes struggle, it takes sacrifice. But there is joy in it and there is progress because we the people have the power to build a better future.”
She said she stood on the shoulders of Black women who came before her, calling them the “backbone of our Democracy” and praised Biden’s choice to place a woman on the Democratic ticket, breaking a barrier long upheld in American society.
She noted that he had the “audacity to break one of the most substantial barriers that exists in this country and select a woman as his vice president.”
An Acknowledgement Of Who Put Him Where He Is
Biden noted the diversity of the coalition behind him, spanning all ethnic groups, gender identities and backgrounds. But particularly acknowledged the Black community, which brought his campaign out of obscurity in the Democratic primaries earlier this year and which supported him distinctly in the election. Cities with large Black populations like Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee and Philadelphia were positioned to give him the votes he needed to carry the electoral college.
“In those moments when this campaign was at its lowest ebb , the African American community stood again up for me,” Biden said. “You’ve always had my back, and I’ll have yours.”
Finally, the President-elect held out an olive branch to those who did not support him in the contentious battle for the White House at a time of intense division in the nation.
All those of you who voted for president trump I understand the disappointment tonight,” Biden said. “I’ve lost a couple times myself. But now lets give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric. Lower the temperature. See each other again, listen to each other again.
“And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies, they are Americans.”
(Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)