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“You chose hope and unity, decency, science and, yes, truth”

Introduction by Croakey: United States President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to “restore the soul of America”, putting action on the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis, racial injustice and healthcare at the top of his agenda as 46th President.

The Washington Post declared his victory, announced after four tense days of counting in key battleground seats, “a repudiation of President Trump powered by legions of women and minority voters who rejected (Trump’s) handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his divisive, bullying conduct in office”.

As Americans took to the streets to celebrate his victory, Biden stepped onto an outdoor stage in front of a drive-in audience in his home state of Delaware, saying voters had called on his team to marshal the forces of decency, fairness, science and hope “in the great battles of our time”:

The battle to control the virus.

The battle to build prosperity.

The battle to secure your family’s healthcare.

The battle to achieve racial justice and root out systemic racism in this country.

The battle to save the climate.

The battle to restore decency, defend democracy and give everybody in this country a fair shot.”

You can read it in full here.

Biden was introduced by Kamala Harris, who made history as the first woman, first Black woman and first Asian American to be elected US Vice President.

Thanking Americans who had marched and organised “for equality and justice, for our lives, and for our planet”, she said:

And then, you voted. And you delivered a clear message. You chose hope and unity, decency, science and, yes, truth.”

Harris hailed Biden for having “the audacity to break one of the most substantial barriers that exists in our country” to select a woman as his vice president, and paid tribute to her mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who “maybe didn’t quite imagine this moment” when she arrived in the US from India at the age of 19.

As she took to the stage, Harris was, she said, thinking about her mother and “the generations of women — Black women, Asian, White, Latina, Native American women who throughout our nation’s history have paved the way for this moment tonight”.

“Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty and justice for all, including the Black women, who are often, too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.”

Read her full speech here.

Watch the victory speeches.

Croakey was grateful over the past week to have Croakey contributing editor Associate Professor Lesley Russell on deck at our rotational Twitter account, @WePublicHealth.

Russell, who has worked as a senior policy advisor on health for the Democrats and the Obama Administration, also led the discussions for our #CroakeyLive #USVotesHealth event as the polls closed last Wednesday – when it looked that President Donald Trump may still prevail (read the wrap of the day/event here).

The post below features her wrap of the result of the poll, and a selection of tweets through the week, which she introduced by saying she is “an unapologetic Democrat”.


Lesley Russell writes:

What an exhausting but ultimately exhilarating week at @WePublicHealth as history was made with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ultimately winning the US presidential election.

Of course every election makes history, but this one especially.

It was fought in the middle of an out-of-control pandemic killing over a thousand people every day; there was a divisive incumbent who deliberately fomented civil divide and unrest; with stakes perceived to be so high, the turnout was unprecedented; endless hours were spent counting the votes; the result delivered the first one-term president in a quarter of a century and he has refused to concede and intends to fight back against the outcome of the people’s vote.

Biden garnered more votes than any presidential candidate in history (74 million), and he is now, for the second time, part of a history-making presidential team. He was on the ticket as vice-president with America’s first Black president and now he heads the ticket with America’s first Black, first South-Asian, first woman as his vice president.

Trump as the loser got some 71 million votes – more than any presidential candidate in history, except the man who beat him, Joe Biden. It may well be that Trump’s lasting legacy, perhaps his only positive legacy for the nation as a whole, has been his ability to get people to turn out to vote.

And, having voted, the Biden/Harris supporters danced and sang in the streets (mostly wearing masks). There were protests from Trump supporters, but they were generally muted.

In her acceptance speech on Saturday evening (US East Coast time) Kamala Harris spoke of the hard work that is needed to protect democracy and of the role women have played in doing this.

Joe Biden, introduced to Bruce Springsteen’s We Take Care of Our Own, claimed a victory for “We, the people”.

He spoke the language of unification, respect, fairness and empathy and of his hope to “restore the soul of America” and to end the era of demonisation. He promised an administration that will reflect the nation and will work cooperatively to address the needs and dreams of all Americans.

Biden had likely been writing this speech for decades – he first ran for president in 1988, then again in 2008. For every president, getting to the highest position in the land is a long, hard fight – never more so than for Biden.

It was fitting that he gave his acceptance speech on the 48th anniversary of the day he was first elected to the Senate.

While Trump remains president through until January 20, it seems unlikely he will stay engaged in the hard work and mechanisms of government and that his time and efforts will be focussed on addressing his grievances, punitive firings, and delivering pardons (perhaps even for himself and his family – an act whose legality is yet to be tested).

Biden will likely not get much transition help from the Trump Administration but he doesn’t need it – he has been here before, he knows his way around the White House.

The first order of business for the Biden / Harris transition team will be to tackle the health and economic impact of the pandemic which has grown exponentially during the election campaign (and spread yet again through the White House), overwhelming hospitals in many states, leaving a trail of death and sorrow, disrupting the economy, and leaving many families and communities in crisis.

Biden has already announced his Coronavirus Pandemic Team and the fact that it will begin work immediately. Likely he will also push to try and get the lame- duck Senate to pass the coronavirus relief bill that was passed some months ago by the House and is so urgently needed.

It is widely agreed that Biden will have five key areas to focus on: the coronavirus pandemic, rebuilding the economy and jobs, healthcare reforms, climate change, and racial justice.

The Biden/Harris team will need to work on these multiple issues simultaneously.

Biden must, in quick order:

  • announce his Cabinet and get them working on their agendas
  • assess which of Trump’s actions need to be undone (eg withdrawal from the World Health Organisation and the Paris Treaty)
  • develop legislation and executive orders if he can’t get the Senate to cooperate
  • have a contingency plan in case the US Supreme Court overturns Obamacare in 2021.

Most importantly, he must project calm and order and he must reach out to listen to those who did not vote for him and who have been made fearful of the future ahead thanks in large part to Trump’s rhetoric. Those dark days are gone – America and the world hope brighter days are ahead.


The week at @WePublicHealth

On the final weekend of the 2020 campaign, the venues Joe Biden and President Trump chose not only contrasted their radically different handling of the pandemic but offered revealing windows into their political identities.

If Biden wins he has huge and urgent task to address pandemic – building public trust in science, experts, govt agencies will be essential element. How? Biden has experience in reaching across the aisle. Will GOP respond or is partisanship too entrenched?

Friends in major US cities report stores are boarding up windows ahead of feared unrest on/after election day.

The right to vote unhindered and the orderly transition of political power are hallmarks of democracy. Now there are fears these will be undermined.

People who live on the 326 Indian reservations often have harder time voting due to bad roads, no street addresses. The pandemic is adding challenges.

Comparing Biden’s And Trump’s Different Visions For Health Care. Another useful comparison