Joe Biden, who has dedicated most of his life to serving the American people with dedication and competence as an effective senator and as vice president, will become our president at noon Wednesday. As he has said many times, he will be president for all Americans — regardless of whether they voted for him or for President Trump, and regardless of their political party affiliation.
Elections always end with supporters of the winning candidate celebrating and supporters of the losing candidate or candidates mourning what might have been. Believe me, I know what it’s like to be on the losing end. I’ve supported plenty of fine Democrats who lost, including when I was campaign manager for Vice President Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign.
Throughout American history, candidates for president and other offices who have lost their races have conceded and congratulated the candidate who won. We have always been blessed with a peaceful transition of power when the occupant of the White House has changed.
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While President Trump has unfortunately refused to concede, many courts — including the Supreme Court — have rejected his baseless challenges to the election results. The Electoral College results have been counted and accepted by the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. And at noon Wednesday power is changing hands, despite the horrific attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and despite Trump’s absurd denial of reality.
Now we must all remember that before we are Democrats or Republicans we are Americans. And our elected representatives in the House and Senate must join together with President Biden to tackle the enormous challenges we face from a pandemic that has killed more than 401,000 people in our country, sent unemployment soaring, shuttered many businesses, and devastated our economy.
The time for campaigning and complaining about the election results is over. Our leaders in Washington must begin the hard work of governing. And when I say “our leaders,” I mean both Democrats AND Republicans. Because despite the fact that the Democratic Party now controls the White House, the Senate, and the House, the Republican Party also has an essential role to play in rebuilding itself and reuniting our country.
Our incoming president will issue 15 executive orders Wednesday and take more actions in his first 10 days in the Oval Office. He will rescind the travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries, rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, extend pandemic-related limits on evictions and student loan payments, issue a mask mandate on federal property and interstate travel, and order federal agencies to reunite immigrant children cruelly separated from their families at the border.
Biden has also announced a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus and pandemic relief package that his administration will be pushing Congress to pass immediately, along with sweeping immigration legislation and a promise to vaccinate 100 million Americans against COVID-19 in his first 100 days in office.
And that’s only the beginning.
Joe Biden is providing bold and aggressive presidential leadership in an unprecedented moment of crisis for our country. At a time when Americans are grappling with a deadly pandemic, an economic catastrophe, powerful calls for racial justice, and the existential threat of climate change, this is precisely the kind of leadership — based on science and facts — that has been missing from the White House, not to mention the Republican-controlled Senate, for the past four years.
But President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris cannot fully and effectively serve and protect everyone in our nation if the Republican Party does not finally and unequivocally reject Trump’s lies and division. Republican leaders have an obligation to heal their party and help heal our nation by extinguishing the flames of hatred for fellow Americans that Trump lit.
As our first Republican president — Abraham Lincoln — said in his second inaugural address as the Civil War was in its final weeks, we must now “bind up the nation’s wounds.” The advice is just as appropriate today, following the attack on our democracy orchestrated by Trump that culminated with the act of insurrection at the Capitol this month.
What exactly do I mean by healing, or as President Lincoln put it, to “bind up the nation’s wounds”?
I simply mean that no one expects Republicans to become Democrats and support everything our new president proposes. But Republicans must emphatically reject the violence, falsehoods, disunity and racism that were hallmarks of the Trump presidency. Both sides can respectfully disagree with each other on the best policies for our nation without hating and demonizing each other.
Since he first became a member of the Senate in 1973, Joe Biden has worked across the aisle in Washington with Republicans, independents and Democrats. He knows that our country works best when we work together. This was, in fact, the unifying theme of his presidential campaign and precisely why he defeated President Trump.
Americans, now more than ever, need a hopeful and unifying vision and leadership. President Biden will provide that.
I dare say that our country now faces even graver threats to our survival than the Great Recession or even 9/11. The insurrection that overwhelmed our Capitol and left five people dead Jan. 6 shows that a large number of Americans have been radicalized by Trump and Trumpism.
Trump’s most fanatical followers and their ideas will not disappear overnight. Rather, they will continue to present a clear and present danger to our democracy for many years to come.
President Biden and Vice President Harris now need the help of Republicans to unite our country and protect us from our enemies — both foreign and domestic — who would seek to overthrow our democratically elected leaders.
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Republican leaders at the federal, state and local levels must finally accept Trump’s election defeat and move on to the critical work of bringing our country back from the brink of insurrection and ushering us into an era of post-pandemic hope and unity.
The world is watching us. Our allies are once again looking to America for global leadership. And our adversaries will continue to stoke division among us in hopes of fomenting domestic chaos and exploiting any resulting vulnerabilities.
The Biden-Harris administration faces challenges bigger than any Americans have encountered for generations. I know that our new president and vice president and their fellow Democrats are ready for this moment, just as an earlier generation made it through the Great Depression and World War II.
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I hope that Republicans are ready to work to build a better future for the American people alongside — not merely in opposition to — their Democratic fellow Americans. Our country needs our leaders to rise to this moment together.
Together we can ensure that America not only survives the challenges we have faced in the past year, but that we come out the other side stronger and more unified than ever. For this, we must all find ways to pray for our country and join hands for the work ahead.
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