Richard Fowler: Biden’s call for unity a welcome change from pain, mistrust and division under Trump

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Exactly 48 years to the day after 29-year-old Joe Biden was first elected to the U.S. Senate, he claimed the biggest prize in politics Saturday night — the title president-elect of the United States. And in a nationally televised speech, he made it clear that he will be a very different president from Donald Trump.

That’s a welcome relief.

Biden will be inaugurated Jan. 20 as America suffers from deep pain, mistrust and division. He gives every sign of being able to lead our nation with truth, boldness, and effectiveness to create better days ahead as America reels from the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 243,000 of us, a recession brought on by the pandemic that has sent unemployment and business failures skyrocketing, and deep-seated racial inequities and divisions.


And if all this wasn’t bad enough, President Trump has attacked the fundamental principles America’s founders enshrined in our Constitution — free elections, a free press, a belief that we are a nation of laws that apply to all, and the idea that we should all work together for the common good rather than battling among ourselves for personal advantage.

On Saturday night, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris ushered in a new day for America that looks so much different from what we’ve suffered through for nearly four years.

Speaking in a parking lot in Delaware full of his cheering and jubilant supporters, Biden delivered a message of hope and courage — but also realism. This is a message Biden has been delivering during his entire career in government. It was the key to his success in building a coalition of young people, African Americans, working families and others that propelled him into the Senate and soon will put him in the White House.

Biden has lived a life of both deep sorrow and great triumph. His first wife and young daughter died in a traffic accident shortly after he was first elected to the Senate, while his son Beau died many years later of cancer.

The president-elect had an illustrious career in the U.S. Senate, a historic vice presidency, and waged three grueling presidential campaigns, with the first two fizzling as he sought the Democratic presidential nomination.

On Saturday night Biden began charting a new course for our country.

"I am humbled by the trust and confidence you placed in me," Biden told his supporters and the nation. "I pledge to be a president who does not seek to divide, but to unify, who doesn't see red states or blue states, who only sees the United States."

s he spoke, the more than 75 million voters who cast ballots for Biden had their first electoral wish fulfilled — having a national leader who espouses calmness with strength. From every corner of the country, these voters were finally able to breathe a breath of tranquility knowing that their new leaders — like so many in the past — would make government function and return decorum and dignity to the White House.

There is no doubt that Biden will have some hard work to build back America and bridge the divide that has beset the country with renewed racial animus, sharp political lines and unbalanced economic outcomes. If his first speech after winning the election was any glimpse of how he will do, the future looks filled with collaboration, decency, and a forward march toward justice.

The coronavirus pandemic will be one of the biggest challenges the Biden-Harris team faces. If Republicans remain in control of the Senate, the Biden administration will need Republican support to get legislation through Congress.

President-elect Biden will be assisted in the task by Vice President-elect Harris, currently, a senator representing California. She will be the first woman, African American, first-generation immigrant, HBCU graduate, and Indian American to serve in vice president's job.


Harris will be a great asset, thought partner, and first officer to Biden. While her role is still being defined, she will chart a new course for our nation's history and serve as a daily reminder of the coalition that got Biden and his campaign to the White House.

America is made up of more women than men, yet it took over 244 years for women to finally have a seat at the table at the highest level of our government. On Jan. 20 that changes. And for young girls, Harris represents America's future and the role that women play to make our nation’s success possible.

The combined records of Biden and Harris ensure they will work to end the scourge of racial division that Trump has worsened over the past four years. We can expect major initiatives from  

them on this front.


Unfortunately, many Republicans have been quick to attack Biden’s call for unity. That’s a mistake. Perhaps once Trump’s term of office is over, at least some Republicans will accept Biden’s olive branch and agree to work in the national interest instead of fanning the flames of division.

That would be one of the most welcome developments of all we could see as a result of this election.


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