Flash back to America on Wednesday the 9th of November 2016, after one of the most divisive presidential races in US history, Donald Trump claimed his place as America’s 45th President. While hard core republicans across the country began to celebrate the notion of the return of this ‘Great America’ so irrefutably promised by Trump, many citizens were left in devastation and despair at the prospect of a leader who was in all evidence, on an ego-inflated power-trip fuelled by hubris and empty promises.
However on the 7th of November 2020 after four nail biting days of contention over the definitive winner of the 2020 Presidential election, Joe Biden was announced as the 46th President Elect. Across social media and news channels stories and footage flooded in of celebrations taking place. Crowds of people filled the streets (vast majority of them clad in their masks, as the ‘side’ generally more conscientious of the ongoing pandemic) rejoicing in the hope of a leader who doesn’t fuel a campaign with fear mongering and marginalisation but with the pledge to action and acceptance.
Despite the question mark which some still are saying remain over the winner of the election (cue ‘This claim about election fraud is disputed’ tweet from Donald Trump), the fact remains you can’t argue with the numbers. Not only did Joe Biden win the electoral college vote but also broke the record for most popular votes amassed in a single presidential race. Regardless of the delay in result, it’s an over-whelming victory for Biden, and a hard pill to swallow for Trump.
As Joe Biden took to the stage at the Chase Centre in Wilmington, Delaware running on with the enthusiasm and conviction of a man who truly loves his country and those who reside in it, he opened his speech humbly with “Hello, my fellow Americans.” From this outset a tone has been set; of a president who sees himself as among the citizens rather than above. Within Biden’s speech there are clear elements of what sets him apart from his opponent. He graciously thanks Kamala Harris, his vice president, who so proudly introduced him to the crowd, and highlights her ground breaking participation in his campaign as, “the first woman, first Black woman, first woman of South Asian descent, and first daughter of immigrants ever elected to national office in this country.” His speech continues with the constant reiteration of the inclusive America that lies in the future.
Following months of Black Lives Matter protests, brought to a boiling point by America’s inherent police brutality and a long history of racism in all its ugliest forms, Biden, who served as vice-president and loyal friend to America’s first ever black president, takes a moment to pay particular thanks to this group, “And especially for those moments when this campaign was at its lowest — the African American community stood up again for me. They always have my back, and I’ll have yours.” As he bangs his fist in conviction against the stand, there is the chorus of support which accompanies Biden’s campaign, an eruption of car horns and cheers from the crowd.
Mean while in the hours following the announcement of his victory, the celebrations taking place through-out the country exist of people from all races, ethnicities, religions, sexualities and backgrounds and live true to Biden’s wish of “a campaign that represented America.” Fountains in New York are dancefloors and embellished by pride flags flying next to stars and stripes, young African Americans stand proudly holding flags with faith in a president who won’t cast them as looters and criminals when they stand against the systematic brutality against their people.
Biden then states his first call of order to getting the COVID-19 crisis under control, utilising a “bedrock of science” to carry this out. A stark contrast to Trump who not six months before proposed ingesting disinfectant as a possible solution.
As Biden comes to a close in his speech he talks about looking ahead. In a year such as 2020 there is no better time to look to the future and the promise it holds. Almost as if a commentary on the last four years presidency, ironically punctuated by arguably the greatest crisis of the 21st century, Joe Biden offers hope “You see, I believe in the possibility of this country. We’re always looking ahead.”
Now with the US population looking towards Biden to see his next steps as the inauguration comes into sight, the question remains to be seen whether he will come through with the delivery of “A nation healed.”
Sophie Fox is a final year student studying BSc Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter