Four days after the largest voter turnout in a century, media outlets named Joe Biden the winner. Within hours, millions of Americans and people from dozens of countries spontaneously took...
Four days after the largest voter turnout in a century, media outlets named Joe Biden the winner. Within hours, millions of Americans and people from dozens of countries spontaneously took to their streets, calles, rues, and strasses to celebrate. Unable to contain their joy, they literally danced in the street. To quote Martha and the Vandellas, with just one lyric change:
“Calling out around the world
Are you ready for a brand new beat?
Biden’s here and the time is right
For dancing in the street
“It’s an invitation across the nation
A chance for folks to meet
There’ll be laughing, singing, and music swinging
Dancing in the street.”
These global celebrations occurred during record-breaking spikes in the deadly Coronavirus pandemic. Risking their lives, partyers rejoiced in the saving of American democracy, and the ushering in of a unifier. Whatever your political stripe, there’s no avoiding the fact that these past four years have been among the most divisive in our history.
During the ‘60s we had a Silent Majority and a counter-culture. The ‘60s before that—if that’s what they were called during the Civil War (1861-‘65—was the most divisive time, with brother literally killing brother.) These past four years brother shouted at brother; sister stopped talking to sister; fathers had it with sons.
So polarized was America that the loser in the election received more votes than anyone else prior to this race. Passions were so high that people who hadn’t voted before risked their lives to wait on polling station lines for hours to make sure their voices were heard.
Those on the Left have been concerned that democracy was being threatened by what they perceived was a president with strong autocratic tendencies. This country was born from a revolution against a tyrannical king. Lovers of democracy voted to make sure the democracy born from that revolution didn’t die in the hands of a tyrannical president.
While Biden is a man of deep Catholic faith, he’s no savior. So what’s causing such optimism? At a time when people I know have talked for years about America needing an amicable divorce here comes a man who won’t hear of it. Here’s a man determined to not just reach across the aisle but to reach into the hearts of Americans to find compassion for “the other side.”
While the president is known as the Commander-in-Chief, I perceive Biden’s election to be that of a national Healer-in-Chief. When I listened to his victory speech, my spirit was lifted by his vision. He spoke of “a victory for we, the people,” echoing language from our Constitution.
“I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify, who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States…I sought this office to restore the soul of America… And to make America respected around the world again. And to unite us here at home. It’s the honor of my lifetime that so many millions of Americans have voted for that vision.”
He then added:
“It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature…Listen to each other again. And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies…They are Americans…The Bible tells us to everything there is a season, a time to build, a time to reap and a time to sow. And a time to heal. This is the time to heal in America.”
I’d never been a big fan of his; he seemed to me a career politician whose views swayed with the changing cultural winds. But this wasn’t that guy. This was someone taking on not just a political role, but a cosmic one. It was as if the Universe had forged a man of compassion; in your 20s losing your wife and young daughter in a fatal automobile accident, and later losing a son to brain cancer will do that. As our president-elect put it, “Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now.” And finally:
“Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses…It’s time for our better angels to prevail.”