Congratulations Mr. President-Elect: Joe Biden Wins the First Great Battle for the "Soul of America"
Updated: Nov 8, 2020
Donald Trump smashed, damaged and attacked countless touchstones, values and institutions of American democracy in four years - a term of political, legal, ethical, cultural and personal misconduct shaped by demagoguery and indecency.
Fundamentally, his most reprehensible dereliction of duty has been this: Unlike all previous occupants of the White House, Trump never attempted, or even made a pretense of trying, to unify the country.
From the start, he instead made clear he was President of the Red States, not the United States. He never, to this day, has ceased to rip and hack and tear at the divisions in the nation -- over race, religion, gender, sexual preference and immigration status, for starters - seeing self-interest in making conflicts more bitter, painful and raw, through a constant and endless stream of abusive words, poisonous lies and inhumane policies.
Now Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have dealt Trump a humiliating defeat, not because of their platform or policy prescriptions, or even because of the incumbent's failure of leadership in confronting the coronavirus, but because of the former vice-president's promise to pursue this first core duty -- to work to be a unifier, not a divider, who serves as President of all the people of the nation.
With more than 10 weeks left in office, Trump's recklessness, authoritarian impulses and thirst for power remain sources of fear and anxiety for the majority of Americans who just voted to fire him.
It also is troubling and true that his septic brand of politics, with its ambience of menace and violence, will remain present, even perhaps dense, as Biden begins his efforts to deal with the four great crises that erupted under Trump - the pandemic, economic collapse and a reckoning over racism, all transpiring amid deep and dangerous polarization of an intensity to match the years preceding the Civil War.
Today, however, is a day for celebration. Thanks, congratulations and best thoughts and wishes are due President-elect Joe Biden, who has triumphed over Trump in the first crucial contest in what he has rightly identified as "the battle for the soul of America."
And to California's own Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris, for making all kinds of history.
P.S. What Van Jones said.
Image: Frame grab of Washington Post home page moments after the election was called for Biden.