clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How to put America first: Give Joe Biden a fighting, honest chance

On a day to be celebrated, Joe Biden won a mandate to be a strong president and, for the first time, a woman was elected vice president.

Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, the next president and vice president of the United States.
AP Photos

Joe Biden won fair and square. Now let’s put America first.

We think well of Biden. We endorsed him and we’re glad he won. But no matter how you might feel about the man, on the right or the left, the only fair thing now is to give him a chance.

It is time we found a way to unite.

That’s the thing about Biden, who on Saturday reportedly nailed down the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House; he’s never been much of an ideologue. As a Democratic senator, and even as a vice president, he wore out the carpet crossing the aisle. It’s why we always believed him when he said on the campaign trail, over and over, that he would be a president for “all Americans.”

“It’s time for America to unite. And to heal,” Biden said in a statement on Saturday. “We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

That sounds exactly like Joe.

Doing a Jerry Ford?

Biden could well turn out to be a kind of placeholder president, like another Jerry Ford, and if that’s the case, it will be enough. He will have calmed the waters. But we wish him greatness.

Our country, so divided against itself, could use a little presidential greatness. Our problems, as practical as how to end a pandemic and as spiritual as how to reclaim our soul, are vast.

Above all, we must elevate again the simple notion, in our politics and everyday life, that values matter: Truth over lies, kindness over meanness, science over fiction. It’s a national embarrassment that we elected once — and came close to electing twice — a different president so incapable of common decency.

Election called for Biden

On Saturday, Biden won the 2020 presidential election, as projected by the Associated Press and other media outlets — including Fox News — and all Donald Trump’s blather and meritless lawsuits won’t change a thing. Come Jan. 20, Biden will be sworn in as our nation’s 46th president.

Our “long national nightmare,” as Ford famously said about Nixon, will be over.

We don’t really believe that. Not this time. If we have learned anything from this election, it is that Trump is not the problem. We, the American people, are the problem. And that problem is not about to go away.

Some 70 million of us, as of Saturday’s count, voted for the most venal and incompetent president in modern times, a man willing to allow hundreds of thousands of Americans die of COVID-19 rather than upset his reelection plans. Another 74 million of us wondered what was wrong with the first 70 million.

But there’s no doubt Trump made matters exponentially worse, poisoning our democracy right to the end with his lies about voter fraud, and he’ll keep it up long after he’s left the White House.

How stunningly off the rails Trump has sounded in these last few tense days, even by his usual standards of mendacity. How surreal it was to hear him declare on election night, long before the votes had been counted: “We hereby claim the State of Michigan.” As if he could call dibs on a whole state the way a Chicago guy in winter calls dibs on a shoveled-out parking space.

And no sooner was the election called for Biden on Saturday than Trump trashed any hope anywhere — seriously, some people still hoped — that he might prove a gracious loser. Biden and the media, Trump said in a statement, don’t want “the truth to be exposed.”

A day for celebration

But enough. Like many of you, we are so very tired of going down the rabbit hole of Trump awfulness. This should be a day for celebration and moving on.

Trump is history in 74 more days. A good and competent man has been elected to replace him. And for the first time in American history, we have elected a woman, Sen. Kamala Harris — a daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants — to be vice president. Talk about overdue.

Late on Friday night, Biden rattled off a list of big challenges he intends to jump on as president: the pandemic, an economy laid low, immigration reform, health care and climate change.

We believe he has been given a mandate to do just that — to go bold. He won this election by the most votes in American history, beating Trump by a margin of 4 million votes.

About 159.8 million Americans voted this year, running up the highest turnout rate since 1900. We mailed in our ballots. We stood in long lines. We waited into the darkness.

It was lovely to see. It was a tonic to the fear that Americans can’t seem to agree on anything anymore.

Whatever our politics, we were all democrats, with a small “d.”

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.