President Donald Trump’s hope for another four years collapsed last Saturday when election analysts from the Associated Press to Fox News called the election for former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris to be the next president and vice president.
We hope election of Biden and Harris means the end of bitter, divisive politics, and the rebirth of civility in government and social existence. We hope that their administration can lead to a time of healing, but also acknowledge that for Black, Indigenous and other people of color, immigrants, women, and LGBTQ+ people who suffered during the Trump administration, forgiveness and reconciliation won’t be easy.
Trump’s defeat and Biden’s victory represents a potential change in American politics from harsh rhetoric to more civil speech. Trump supporters praised him for his tough, no-nonsense approach. His opponents criticized Trump for being divisive, abusive and bullying. In the referendum we hold every four years on a presidency, a majority of voting Americans backed Biden and his reason for running for the office.
“I sought this office to restore the soul of America,” he said in his victory speech on Saturday. ” … To make America respected around the world again and to unite us here at home.”
Here in Homer, Trumpism has had an effect. The day after Trump’s inauguration in 2017, nearly 900 people protested against him in the local March for Women. Months later at the Homer City Council, Trump supporters spoke out against what they called a sanctuary city resolution. For sponsoring the resolution, conservatives later tried to recall three council members. The tone of speech on both sides has been strident and angry.
Moving forward won’t be easy. Trump himself has yet to concede, and he and his supporters have raised unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, sometimes in the same state where a Republican won reelection to the U.S. Senate. According to article on Tuesday in the New York Times, elections officials in every state reported finding no evidence of election misdeeds. In many states where Trump lost, he won by similar margins in 2016.
With four states — including Alaska — still counting votes, Biden had 279 electoral votes and 76.4 million popular votes as of Tuesday to Trump’s 214 electoral votes and 71.7 million popular votes. With 45 electoral votes to be decided, Trump does not currently have a path to victory.
Of course, the election won’t be official until all the states have certified their votes and the Electoral College casts its final ballot. The media doesn’t decide elections — voters do that — but, as the Associated Press explains on its website, it can make an analysis that looks at percentages of votes tabulated and the probability in each state that a candidate has won. Experts made the same kind of analysis in 2016 that Trump celebrated and that caused Hillary Clinton to concede the morning after.
With America still adrift in anger and contempt, it will be hard to swim to shore and find salvation. But we can try. Biden made that appeal in his speech.
“It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric,” he said. “To lower the temperature. To see each other again. To listen to each other again. To make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy. We are not enemies. We are Americans.”
We are too close to each other in Homer to continue this anger. While we may hold different political views, we live and work together. We rely on each other to solve the hard problems challenging us, including the COVID-19 pandemic and its health and economic effects. We face a tough winter ahead, but we have persevered through many dark seasons and will prevail again.
In his Saturday speech, Biden evoked President Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address, saying, “We must restore the soul of America. Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses. It is time for our better angels to prevail.”
Let us look to our better angels. Let us return to being friends and neighbors. Let us become a better community, a better state and a better nation.
– Michael Armstrong, editor