Millions felt relief as former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was elected president last week over incumbent President Donald J. Trump. Biden’s win marks the end of an era where racism and xenophobia were openly tolerated, and even supported, by the White House. It signals the start of the restoration period of the presidency and begins the rebuilding of the soul of America. Now that a more typical leader is back in the White House, what do we do now?
The very first thing we have to do is ensure that the democratic process survives. Even before the election was called in favor of the former vice president, his opponent, the current president, started hurling false claims of victory and baseless accusations of voter fraud.
Though the campaign’s lawsuits have been failures for the most part, they continue to resemble the pattern of democratic backsliding that has only increased during Trump’s presidency. His vilifying of the media, the appointment of political allies to non-political posts and the challenging of clear and decisive election results all show the threat the current president is to democracy. Even though he has lost, we still have to ensure he cannot rip our country apart even more before he leaves office.
Let us get real for a second though; Biden was not the candidate progressives wanted, but he is the candidate they, and the nation, got. States like Michigan, where Biden won every county during the Democratic primaries, proved crucial to his victory. Despite Biden being a moderate, he has been characterized by some as the most progressive Democratic nominee in history, and we have to hold him to that.
We can start by closely watching his transition and make it known that his administration would accurately represent us only if key nominees had progressive views. For example, we need a progressive Secretary of Labor for material conditions to actually improve for the working class. There is slight hope for that, as Sen. Bernie Sanders has confirmed he would accept the position if asked. There is doubt that he will actually be chosen, especially since Vermont’s Republican governor might appoint a Republican to fill Sanders’ seat, strengthening GOP control of the Senate.
We also need to do everything we can to ensure that President-elect Biden is able to push his agenda forward. All Senate races have been called, except for two seats in Georgia, which have been pushed to runoffs. Given that the majority of Americans do not live in Georgia, it seems difficult to find things that outsiders can do to help. However, there is one very simple task: encouraging people to vote.
The same amount of people that voted for Biden did not vote for the Democratic senate candidates and that poses a problem to the Democrats’ hope of controlling the Senate. Those invested in the state of the nation need to make sure that they are doing everything they can to help elect Georgia Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossof and Raphael Warnock. If Democrats win both of the Georgia seats, it would be an even 50/50 split in the Senate, leaving the tie-breaking votes to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
There will be a point where we think that all of the work needed to ensure a successful Biden presidency is done. We will be wrong. The last thing we have to do will take the entirety of Biden’s first term for us to accomplish — we need to hold him accountable. Biden has promised to fight systemic racism in the United States and ensure we achieve racial equity. He also promised to implement his plan to combat climate change, which in many ways is just a Green New Deal-“lite,” which is less far-reaching than the original and does not include Medicare for All. We must make sure he keeps these promises.
In his victory speech, Biden promised to be a president for all Americans. Democrat or Republican, white or minority, young or old; we all have to hold our new president accountable. We no longer have to worry about a president working against the interests of the American people. A true leader will be in the White House soon, and we have to do everything in our power to ensure President-elect Biden can and will be the leader we elected him to be.
Moh Samhouri is an Opinion Intern for the 2020 fall quarter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.