President-elect Joe Biden Jr. delivered an address to the nation last Saturday night, the tone, tenor and content of which we, as a country, have not heard in a good, long while. Four years, to be exact.
We call it presidential.
It was a soothing balm to an America scarred by tumultuous times. His message called for our country’s unity while recognizing the need to heal the extraordinary divisions that have defined American politics during the presidency of Donald Trump.
“Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now,” he said.
This is a particularly dark time in an isolated America with a viral pandemic raging across the country unabated and racial injustice boiling beneath taut and tenuous relationships between police and communities of color. The economy is struggling to keep its balance while millions of people are without good-paying jobs. Some fellow Americans, through no fault of their own, are facing eviction for the lack of rent. Fires and mighty hurricanes – the result of calamitous climate change – have pushed fellow citizens to exhaustion and many into the weary arms of relief.
Even here at home in rural and remote West Virginia, 39 of our neighbors died from Covid-related complications just this past week, nearly 600 now since the pandemic’s first infection here, back in March.
There is much to fix in America, and the road ahead is as serpentine and uncertain as a drive in the mountains during a thunderstorm. And yet, as we look through the windshield to the future with Biden in charge, it gives us confidence. The former vice president is an experienced hand. He has walked those hallways, having served eight years in the White House as No. 2 and part of a team that successfully suppressed two different pandemics – one, the H1N1 flu that came just as the Obama administration, surrounding itself with the nation’s best and brightest, was building a policy and funding response to an inherited economic crisis.
Does the coincidence sound familiar?
And in his moment on Saturday night, Biden was simultaneously magnanimous and humble, reaching out to supporters of President Trump, saying, “I understand the disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple times myself.”
For his part, President Trump was typical Trump on Saturday, first by playing a round of golf and then continuing to make baseless claims that the election had been rigged, talking points that have been echoed by loyal supporters.
“I WON THE ELECTION, GOT 71,000,000 LEGAL VOTES,” he tweeted Saturday afternoon in his signature ALL CAPS. We know the reality is something quite different, that state election officials of both red and blue stripes, in states whose votes were building for and against the president, were reporting no major issues, no fraud, everything on the up and up. We also know that Trump was losing the popular vote for a second time in four years – this time by more than five million votes – and at risk of facing an Electoral College beat-down.
Republican leaders? Crickets, silent beneath the sound and fury of a boastful narcissist rather than instilling confidence in our democracy by publicly acknowledging the outcome of a free and fair election.
For the good of the country and for his own legacy, President Trump needs to do now what other presidents have done previously in defeat: concede, wish the next guy all the best and prepare for a smooth transition of power.
That is the American tradition. That is his duty, now, and one that we feel convinced he will fail.
As such, Biden needs to press ahead – as he is doing.
His hands are on the wheel, now, and in that we feel greater confidence that, yes, we can come together in common cause, no matter the challenges we face.
United we stand.
That is the American way.
— The Register-Herald