In claiming victory this past Saturday as the nation’s 46th president, Joe Biden hit all the right notes. He was forceful, empathetic and steady — and sought to begin the healing process for a divided nation following a bruising presidential election.
Biden’s victory was not the landslide many pollsters mistakenly predicted. But his margin was substantial. He won the popular vote by close to 5 million votes, and slowly but overwhelmingly surged past President Donald Trump in the complex and arcane tabulations of the Electoral College as the record number of mail-in votes were tabulated.
Although the system worked, the election and its result were not without conflict. Those challenges will be resolved. We are confident that the Biden-Harris ticket will prevail. But resolution won’t change the fact that the electorate is deeply divided. And in recognition of that reality, Biden pledged “to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify. Who doesn’t see red and blue states, but a United States.”
Our country clearly needs a whole lot of healing. We believe Biden is up to the task. He has a well-documented history of political moderation and bipartisan leadership, and has the compassion and understanding to help navigate the complex issues that perplex us: COVID-19 challenges, economic uncertainly, racial tensions, lagging U.S. leadership in the world arena and the need to change the tone of political discourse in Washington.
Biden’s efforts will not have the much-anticipated unified support of the legislative branch. Although a Democrat won the White House, there was no overwhelming Blue Wave. Democrats lost seats in the House and Republicans will likely retain control of the Senate. Such a split government could be a good thing — since negotiation and compromise will be necessary in order to get most things done. That will require cooperation from and engagement with political opponents, and presents an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to work together for the clear benefit of the American people whom they have been elected to serve.
We hope that Biden will continue to promote civility, mutual respect and understanding as he moves forward. We were pleased that he devoted so much of his acceptance speech to talking about and thanking others, rather than seeking to make the election all about himself. We appreciated his embrace of “Democrats, Republicans, independents, progressives, moderates, conservatives, young, old, urban, suburban, rural, gay, straight, transgender, white, Latino, Asian, Native American.” And he showed himself to be humble and grateful: “And especially those moments when this campaign was at its lowest ebb, the African American community stood up again for me. You’ve always had my back, and I’ll have yours.”
Biden seems focused on elevating our public discourse and on the value of unity. He understands the importance of avoiding being disagreeable even where there are legitimate grounds for disagreement. That’s the approach we expect from the president of the United States. The change is welcome.