On Saturday, Nov. 7, The Associated Press projected Joe Biden to be the 46th President of the United States and winner of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Biden reached the presidency when The AP projected that the former vice president would take of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania after leading President Donald Trump by 34,000 votes. With the win, Biden becomes the oldest president in U.S. history: he celebrates his 78th birthday on Nov. 20.
Biden’s ascension to the nation’s highest office comes after a 47-year career in politics, which began with election as a democratic Senator from Delaware in 1973. Biden’s 2020 campaign marked his third attempt for the presidency. Biden’s first campaign in 1988 ended after controversy over a plagiarized speech forced his withdrawal from the race for Democratic nomination. Biden’s 2008 campaign was ended after poor performance in the 2008 Iowa caucus. Barack Obama, however, offered the vice presidency spot to Biden on his 2008 ticket. Biden would go on to be vice president for the entire Obama administration before declining to run in the 2016 Presidential Election.
In an address to supporters in Wilmington N.C. in the evening hours of Nov. 7, Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris echoed messages of a plan to govern for all citizens whether they voted for or against the Biden/Harris duo.
“I ran as a proud Democrat. I will now be an American president. I will work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me – as those who did,” Biden said.
In her introduction of Biden, Harris shared a similar message.
“No matter who you voted for, I will strive to be the vice president that Joe [Biden] was to President Obama – loyal, honest and prepared, waking up every day thinking of you and your families,” Harris said.
When Harris is elected on Jan. 20, 2021, she will become the nation’s first female vice president, in addition to being the first person of South Asian descent and first Black women of color elected to the nation’s second highest office.
“While I may be the first women in [the vice presidency], I won’t be the last,” Harris said in a victory speech late Saturday night. “Every little girl watching tonight see that this is a country of possibilities.”
Harris, who became the second Black women elected to the Senate in 2016, joined the Biden campaign on Aug. 11 after ending her own campaign in early December of 2019. Harris’ role in the Biden administration is especially prominent given the president-elect’s age and low probability of a reelection run in 2024.
While Biden and Harris celebrated into the early morning hours of Nov. 7, President Trump shared unconfirmed claims of voter fraud, as he tweeted “71,000,000 Legal Votes. The most EVER for a sitting President!”
The president’s unproven claims of voter fraud seem to be part of a legal and public relation strategy, which creates a potential escape route from his election loss in the eyes of his supporters. The president’s claims seem to be resonating with one supporter and member of the Wittenberg class of 2023.
“There is active voter fraud in the election and if there isn’t, [Biden] should have nothing to hide about it,” Caidan Salonsky (’23) said. Salonsky, who voted for Trump in the election, often wears a red “Make America Great Again” hat around campus.
While Trump and his supporters, including Salonsky, continue to claim voter fraud in the election, election officials in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada confirm that no widespread voting irregularities and no major instances of fraud or illegal activity occurred during this election, according to The Associated Press. While Trump and campaign advisors attempt to dispute the election results, students and student organizations at Wittenberg have largely accepted the inevitability of the transition of power on Jan. 20, 2021.
“We respect President Biden’s victory in the 2020 Presidential Election and wish him well,” Benjamin Helmus (’21) of the Wittenberg College Libertarians said in a statement to The Wittenberg Torch. “It is our sincerest hope he makes the right decisions as a leader to heal our country as it recovers from the coronavirus. As so many of us are, we are greatly concerned for the next four years and pray he may take us in the right direction.” College Libertarians are the Wittenberg branch of the Libertarian Party. College Democrats did not respond to a Torch request for comment.
The hopefulness for the future was a theme shared by Saqib Rasheed (’22) as he looked ahead to Inauguration Day.
“Decency when going through problems head on and a presidency to help out all Americans, not just a specific part,” Rasheed said.
Biden and Harris will be inaugurated as the 46th president and 49th vice president on Jan. 20, 2021 at noon.