Most weekends are relaxed and chilled out. Nothing much happening, right?
In the United States, this past weekend was not one of those weekends.
Where to begin? Well, as of Saturday, the country has a new president! Er, president-elect. We're pretty sure. There's also some legal stuff. Oh yeah, they still haven't finished counting all the votes. Hmm.
Can we start over? Let's look at the main points together.
News agencies declare Joe Biden the winner
As we discussed in this post from last Wednesday, it is not unusual at all for the complete counting of votes in a federal election to take many days, even weeks. Usually when we first hear about a winner, it is not because the counting is complete—it is because the results have reached a point where one candidate has a lead that is too large for an opponent to come back from. So a winner is declared, or 'called'.
On Saturday, after days of uncertainty, news agencies across the country finally felt that enough votes had been counted to call the result. They declared that Democrat Joe Biden was the winner of the election. This makes him president-elect, or the president-in-waiting. The presidential inauguration, or moment this is official, happens on January 20, 2021. Until that point, while Biden assembles the team that will make up his new government, Donald Trump remains the actual president.
Speaking of the current president, he is currently exploring all avenues to contest this result. Along with many in his party, the Republicans, he has refused to concede, or accept defeat. He and his team have filed several lawsuits, or legal challenges, claiming that there has been widespread voter fraud, or cheating.
Can he do this? Yes, he can. But it is important to note that, on its own, filing a lawsuit is kind of like stating an opinion. Anyone can do it, but what matters is not the opinion or claim that something illegal happened. What matters is the evidence.
So far, Trump has offered no concrete evidence of illegal activity in this election. This lack of evidence is why nearly all reporters have described his claims of voter fraud as 'baseless'.
Many celebrate the result
While many Republicans refused to concede a win to Biden, there were some that did. These included former President George W. Bush and past presidential candidate Mitt Romney. They said that the election was fair and that it was time to work together.
Meanwhile, the moment that the election was called on Saturday morning, hundreds of thousands of supporters of Biden poured out on to the streets to celebrate. They were honking horns, banging pans, dancing, and singing. A lot of this excitement is about what Joe Biden and the vice president-elect, Kamala Harris, bring to the table.
The Joe and Kamala Show
Biden was Barack Obama's vice president, where he served for eight years. He has decades of experience, and has seen first hand the pressures of the White House. At a time of unusual turmoil due to the pandemic, he is a calm, warm presence. And then there is Harris.
As a half-Black, half-Indian daughter of an immigrant, her victory represents a handful of exceptional firsts in American government. First Black vice president. First vice president of South Asian descent. First female vice president. Her speech on Saturday evening highlighted these milestones and so much more. Especially when she spoke about her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who emigrated from India to start a new life.
[My mother] maybe didn’t quite imagine this moment but she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible. And so I am thinking about her and about the generations of women, Black women, Asian, white, Latina, Native American women—who throughout our nation’s history have paved the way for this moment tonight—women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all.
Biden's speech focused on what might be his biggest challenge as president—bringing the country together after a very tough election.
And I’m humbled by the trust and confidence you’ve placed in me. I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify. Who doesn’t see red and blue states, only sees the United States. And work with all my heart, with the confidence of the whole people, to win the confidence of all of you.