President-elect Joe Biden in a victory speech Saturday night vowed to heal a nation torn apart by deep political and racial divisions and promised to hear the concerns of both Americans who voted for him and the tens of millions who supported President Trump.
Speaking outside the Chase Center, near his home in Wilmington, Del., to scores of enthusiastic supporters honking their car horns and dancing in the night, Biden said he would leave behind this “grim era of demonization in America” and do his best to “unify” the country at a moment of historic civil unrest.
Biden appealed directly to the more than 70 million Americans who cast their ballots for Trump, saying he understands their disappointment and wants to return to an era where people are able to remain friendly despite their political differences.
“For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand your disappointment tonight,” Biden said. “I’ve lost a couple myself. But let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, to lower the temperature. To see each other again. To 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.”
“This is the time to heal in America,” Biden added.
Biden will face many difficult and immediate challenges upon being sworn into office in late January.
There has been a resurgence in the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 230,000 people in America, wreaked havoc on the economy and torn at the nation’s social fabric.
Biden will likely lead a divided government, as Republicans remain favored to keep control of the Senate and the Democratic majority in the House is expected to be the smallest in decades.
Trump is not expected to concede the race, which was called in Biden’s favor Saturday morning after four days of vote counting. Trump’s campaign is flooding several states with legal challenges and making unsubstantiated claims about the election having been stolen through fraud.
Trump’s four years in office exposed the deep political polarization that has overcome the nation and been exacerbated by the pandemic, economic anxiety and social media.
Biden addressed all of those challenges in his victory speech, pledging to restore an atmosphere of decency and compromise, rather than one of political warfare and brinkmanship.
“I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify,” Biden said. “Who doesn’t see red states or blue states, only sees the United States. I’ll work with all my heart to win the confidence of all of you.”
Biden did not criticize Trump directly in his speech, although he did appear at one point to reference what he described as the president’s reckless and divisive rhetoric as being a driving force behind the nation’s polarization.
“Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses,” Biden said. “What presidents say in this battle matters. It’s time for our better angels to prevail.”
Biden’s most pressing challenge as president will be getting the coronavirus under control and potentially overseeing the distribution of a vaccine, when one becomes available.