Biden delivered a message of unity to the nation, acknowledging the challenges facing the United States and setting out their plan to get to work immediately.
Thousands celebrated President-elect Joe Biden’s victory on Saturday, dancing in the streets of cities and towns across America until well past dark. Less visible, though, were the millions of Americans who didn’t vote for Biden.
That didn’t matter to Biden, the man who will become the 46th president of the United States. When Biden gave his victory speech Saturday night, he spoke to every American—whether they voted for him or not.
“I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify. Who doesn’t see red states and blue states, but sees the United States,” Biden said from Wilmington, Delaware.
“I sought this office to restore the soul of America,” he continued. “To rebuild the backbone of this nation, the middle class. To make America respected around the world again. And now, the work of making that vision is real. It’s the task of our time.”
The president elect also spoke directly to the people who did not vote for him.
“I understand their disappointment tonight,” Biden said. “Now, let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, to see each other again, to listen to each other again, to make the progress we need to. Folks, I’m a proud Democrat. But I will govern as an American president. I’ll work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me as those who did. This grim era of demonization begins to end here and now.”
Biden also focused on what he would do once he takes office in January, saying he create a “leading group” of scientists and advisors to turn his plan to beat the coronavirus into an “action blueprint that will start January 20, 2021.” The president elect said that the group would start working together as soon as Monday, Nov. 9.
“That plan will be built on a bedrock of science, I will spare no effort, none, or any commitment, to turn around this pandemic,” Biden said.
Throughout the speech, Biden hammered home his message of unity and how America has slowly but surely moved toward equality.
“I’ve long talked about the battle for the soul of America,” Biden said. “Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and darkest impulses. What presidents say in this battle matters. It’s time for our better angels to prevail. Tonight the whole world is watching America…we will lead not only by the example of our power but by the power of our example.”
Biden also looked to the future. “We’re always looking ahead,” Biden said. “Ahead to an America that’s freer and more just.” The president elect also briefly touched on themes like dismantling systemic racism, climate change, and health care—all of which were key issues among Biden’s progressive supporters and tens of millions of other Americans.
Vice President elect Kamala Harris, the first woman, Black, and South Asian person to hold that office, opened her speech with an homage to former Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights icon who passed away in July.
“Democracy is not a state, it is an act. What he meant was that America’s democracy is not guaranteed. It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it,” Harris said.
Harris also spoke about her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who emigrated to the United States from India.
“When she came here from India at the age of 19, she maybe didn’t imagine this moment,” Harris said. “But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible.”
Harris also spoke of the women who helped her reach one of the nation’s highest offices.
“I am thinking about the generations women, Black women. Asian, white, Latina, Native American women who, throughout our nation’s history, have paved the way for this moment tonight,” Harris said. “Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty. and justice for all.”
She specifically spoke to Black women, who she said were “too often overlooked, but so often prove they are the backbone of our democracy.”