The announcement that Joe Biden won the presidential election relieved the stress of millions who had their eyes glued to their screens since election night, awaiting the confirmation of multiple media projections that claimed Biden surpassed 270 electoral votes.
While Donald Trump, his administration, and select republicans intend on challenging the results of the presidential race, Biden addressed the nation, accepting the results of the election and outlining his interest in bridging divisions created by Trump. Biden’s speech focused on unification rather than blatant dog-whistling; however, it’s important to look at his speech and the goals and promises he outlined for the country.
Biden’s victory speech is predicated on the belief that the United States needs to regain its former status in becoming “respected around the world again.” Aside from the stark similarity to Trump’s 2016 campaign, Biden will still struggle to shake the legacy forged by the Trump Administration. 71 million people, the second highest number of votes for any U.S. presidential candidate, voted for Donald Trump. Constant claims of election fraud pedaled during the election and months prior have only galvanized Trump voters, including many who still refuse to acknowledge Joe Biden as the President-elect.
Any attempt by Biden to unify the country and earn global respect has already faced resistance by elected officials. Senator Mitch McConnell sided with Trump’s decision to not concede the election. Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler – Republican senators facing runoff elections in Georgia this January – both called on Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign amidst what they believed was his mishandling of the election. While Georgians will once again have the opportunity to vote in the senate races, it is evident that these races will not help Biden’s call for unification.
Biden communicated the diversity of his voting base, but specifically extended his gratitude towards the Black community. Though Biden seemed tone deaf of his previous transgressions against communities of color by claiming that “they always have [had his] back,” he promised that in return his administration would have theirs.
His claim is bold, as throughout his presidential campaign, figures across the political spectrum questioned his relationship with Black communities. Biden’s assistance with the 1994 Crime Bill and opposition against federally mandated busing has been heavily scrutinized by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who even remarked on the importance of busing during her childhood.
While Biden has changed his stance on both busing and crime, his claim that he has always supported the Black community is untrue. And, as president, Biden has the capacity to demonstrate his support for the community, so his promise to uphold the Black community in the U.S. must continue to be closely examined.
Biden’s principle goal is to gain control of the COVID-19 pandemic. In his own words, “we cannot repair the economy, restore our vitality, or relish life’s most precious moments … until we get this virus under control.”
While this statement does demonstrate Biden’s interest in ending the pandemic, he effectively downplayed the seriousness of other issues. Achieving racial justice, protecting the environment, and building prosperity were mentioned in Biden’s speech, but Biden never extrapolated beyond mentioning them in reference to “the great battles of our time.” Considering the effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had in the U.S., it makes sense that Biden focused more on public health, but this emphasis should not distract from Biden’s other promises.
Achieving racial justice, protecting the environment, and building prosperity were mentioned in Biden’s speech, but Biden never extrapolated beyond mentioning them in reference to “the great battles of our time.”
Towards the later portion of his speech, Biden mentioned the importance of opportunities and the struggles many families face when opportunities are unavailable. He promised to create a country that provided more opportunities regardless of race, ethnicity, faith, identity, or disability. Biden has embraced mottos such as “Build Back Better,” that projected his interest in providing a sweeping economic recovery. But despite his somewhat clear plan to provide economic support, he failed to demonstrate how it would affect and relate to different BIPOC communities and marginalized peoples.
Finally, Biden promised that the U.S. would always look ahead and never leave anyone behind. This part of his speech reflected a similar emotional maturity and empathy that can be found in some of his previous speeches. During the first presidential debate, Biden ardently defended Hunter Biden following Trump’s assault on Hunter’s drug addiction by emphasizing his ability to overcome addiction.
“He’s overtaken it,” Biden said. “He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it. And I’m proud of him.”
After an election filled with nasty characterizations, shadowed by the pandemic, optimism for the future is all that remains from Trump’s mishandling of all the nation’s issues. Biden’s ability to communicate his emotions and personal past will help him rope in more supporters, especially those who relate to his experiences, but optimism alone can only reach so far if Biden intends on unifying a politically polarized country.
Biden chose to end his speech with a Christian hymn and remind everyone of the virus’s toll on the U.S. population. His call for unity, strength, and healing reflected what he called the United States’ “thirst for justice.” Although Biden’s speech relied heavily on large promises, some of which seemed far-fetched, they nonetheless reflected his interest in building a less separated and divisive country.
Last updated 11/10/20
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