‘Time to heal in America’ – Joe Biden addresses the world for first time as President-elect

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Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday night addressed Americans and the world for the first time as President-elect.

His speech came after he clinched the necessary 270 electoral college votes to win the 2020 presidential election.

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Speaking from Wilmington, Delaware, Biden, who defeated President Donald Trump, pledged to be a president for all Americans, those who voted for him, and those who did not.

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“Folks, I’m a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American President,” Biden said.

He promised to end what he described as “this grim era of demonization.”

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Biden urged Americans to unite, saying it was time “to listen to each other again.”

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris addresses Americans in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday, November 7. 2020
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris addresses Americans in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday, November 7. 2020

“The people of this nation have spoken, they delivered us a clear victory,” Biden added, promising to root out systemic “racism in this country.”

Biden also called on Americans to unite, saying it was ‘time to heal in America.”

“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.”

He said his first focus would be to get COVID-19 under control, adding that on Monday he would name a team of experts to tackle the coronavirus that has killed more than 230,000 million Americans.

President-elect Joe Biden addresses Americans in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday, November 7. 2020
President-elect Joe Biden addresses Americans in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday, November 7. 2020

Biden also promised to “restore the soul of America.”

The president-elect was introduced by Kamala Harris, the first female Vice President-elect in the United States.

Harris praised Biden as “a healer, a uniter, a tested and steady hand.”

Harris whose mother was from India and father is from Haiti spoke about what her personal achievement represents for other women in America, saying she will not be the last woman to be in that position.

“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last, because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities,” she said.

Biden’s speech was one of the best he has delivered in recent time. And the crowd that came to listen to him was bigger and more enthusiastic.

Although President Trump is yet to concede defeat, as he pursues legal means to prove there was fraud in the election, congratulatory messages for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were coming from everywhere.

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Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates tweeted his congratulations to President0-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect kamala Harris on winning the 2020 U.S. presidential election, adding that he looks forward to getting the “surging pandemic under control.”

“Congratulations to President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris,” Gates tweeted. “Thank you to the election officials and campaign workers who worked tirelessly to ensure a record number of Americans could cast a ballot and have it counted during such a challenging time for our country.”

Millions of Americans began celebrating in the streets immediately after Biden defeated Trump with so much intensity that it almost looked as if a horrible dictator had just been overthrown.

Americans celebrate in the streets in Washington DC after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Simon Ateba, Today News Africa
Americans celebrate in the streets in Washington DC after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Simon Ateba, Today News Africa

From New York City to Washington DC to Atlanta and Philadelphia, and other metropolitan cities, cheers and car horns honking could be heard for several hours.

Many held American flags, waved and displayed placards.

Millions of Americans were seen dancing, jubilating, jumping, running, cheering, and celebrating that they will no longer have Trump as their president from January 20, 2021, at noon.

It was almost like when a brutal despot who made many people miserable during his tenure is finally gone, and gone forever.

Americans celebrate in the streets in Washington DC after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Simon Ateba, Today News Africa
Americans celebrate in the streets in Washington DC after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Simon Ateba, Today News Africa

The celebration started immediately after the presidential election was called by major networks, confirming that Biden had clinched the magic number of 270 electoral college votes.

At the White House in Washington DC, thousands of people started celebrating immediately the election was called and have remained there for many hours.

President Trump who went golfing before the results were called, returned to a different White House, with thousands of people outside telling him his time was up.

Human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International immediately urged President-elect Joe Biden to reverse four years of regression on human rights and immediately work to place respect for rights at the forefront of US laws and policies.

Americans celebrate in the streets in Washington DC after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Simon Ateba, Today News Africa
Americans celebrate in the streets in Washington DC after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Simon Ateba, Today News Africa

Human Rights Watch for instance, called on US officials to ensure that the voters’ will is respected and not undermined by baseless lawsuits. President Donald Trump has made unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, and his campaign has asked courts to intervene in Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.

Americans celebrate in the streets in Washington DC after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Simon Ateba, Today News Africa
Americans celebrate in the streets in Washington DC after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Simon Ateba, Today News Africa

“In a democracy, the will of the people, not of politicians, determines the outcome of an election. Now President-elect Biden needs to govern on behalf of all Americans,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “People came out in record numbers to vote. The electoral process must ensure that their choices are respected. This is a moment to heal the nation and end the divisiveness.”

Americans celebrate in the streets in Washington DC after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Simon Ateba, Today News Africa
Americans celebrate in the streets in Washington DC after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Simon Ateba, Today News Africa

Exactly 100 years after women in the United States gained the right to vote and 55 years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Kamala Harris, the daughter of parents who immigrated from India and Jamaica, has become the first woman, first Black American, and first Asian-American to be elected vice president of the United States.

Trump’s reckless allegations of voter fraud in the November 3, 2020 presidential election have met with bipartisan condemnation. Candidates have the right to pursue the legal avenues available to them, but pursuing baseless claims unnecessarily prolongs the electoral process and may serve to undermine confidence in the outcome of the election. The Trump campaign has signaled an intent to seek a recount in Wisconsin and the Georgia secretary of state announced on November 6 that the tally of votes in the presidential race there would end with a margin small enough to prompt a recount.

Both campaigns, the political parties, and all officials in the US should urge the public to respect the electoral process. Election-related lawsuits should be resolved in a manner that centers the right to vote and focuses on ascertaining the will of voters. A record number of Americans of all backgrounds participated in the election amid a pandemic and other structural obstacles to casting a ballot. International human rights law requires that each vote be counted, Human Rights Watch said.

As president, Biden should make human rights a priority at home and abroad, Human Rights Watch said. This includes pursuing policies that support the rights of people in the United States to live in dignity, express their opinions, have and form families as they please, put sufficient food on the table, access safe water, see a doctor without fear of discrimination or financial ruin, and feel safe in their own skin. Biden should also press for swift legislation to address the Covid-19 pandemic, tackle systemic racism, and rectify harms and injustices in the criminal and immigration systems.

On foreign policy, the incoming administration should demonstrate global climate leadership, promote and protect sexual and reproductive rights, and ensure that US weapons and technology are not sold to rights-abusing governments. Human rights abusers should not be given “red carpet” treatment but instead be pressed on human rights both publicly and privately.

Some voters across the country cast their ballots using official drop boxes, the US Postal Service, or other forms of early or absentee voting. These methods of voting have been in place in many US states for years, but some states and citizens used them for the first time during the 2020 primaries and the general election as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Trump campaign’s lawsuits appear mostly related to these procedures.

Americans celebrate in the streets in Washington DC after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Simon Ateba, Today News Africa
Americans celebrate in the streets in Washington DC after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Simon Ateba, Today News Africa

“There is a vast difference between legitimate legal challenges aimed at protecting the right to vote and efforts to disenfranchise voters who support your opponent,” Roth said. “One strengthens democracy. The other seeks to undermine it.”

Emails from the Trump campaign and Trump’s statements, including on social media, have made baseless claims about the legitimacy of mail-in ballots and called for supporters to “fight back.” While respecting freedom of expression, social media platforms should enforce their policies to limit the spread of election-related disinformation and misinformation, including unsubstantiated claims of fraud, as well as incitement to violence, Human Rights Watch said.

Americans celebrate in the streets in Washington DC after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Simon Ateba, Today News Africa
Americans celebrate in the streets in Washington DC after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Simon Ateba, Today News Africa

Demonstrations have occurred since election day and more may take place in the coming days from across the political spectrum. In recent letters to state and local officials, Human Rights Watch and other organizations urged them to ensure that law enforcement – including the National Guard and other military units that might be deployed – permit demonstrators to peacefully assemble and use force only as a last resort, if necessary and proportionate, to respond to a genuine threat that cannot be addressed through other measures.

Police in New York City on November 4 appear to have “kettled,” or surrounded, demonstrators, body-slamming and tackling some who appear to have posed no threat. Human Rights Watch criticized such tactics in a recent report about police response to demonstrators in the Bronx in June.

Foreign leaders and international human rights bodies should support the will of the American people in choosing their president while speaking out in defense of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the United States.

Americans celebrate in the streets in Washington DC after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Simon Ateba, Today News Africa
Americans celebrate in the streets in Washington DC after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Simon Ateba, Today News Africa

“This election shows the tremendous amount of work still to be done to ensure that everyone in the United States can live in dignity and free of racism and discrimination,” Roth said. “After taking office in January, the Biden administration should act to reverse Trump’s many transgressions of rights at home and to address the many inconsistencies and hypocrisies that have long plagued US human rights policy abroad.”

 Amnesty International USA’s Interim Executive Director, Bob Goodfellow, also urged the next President to prioritize human rights.

“As an organization dedicated to defending everyone’s human rights in the U.S. and around the world, Amnesty International USA calls on the new Biden administration to act immediately to end human rights violations perpetrated by the U.S. government, including the detention and separation of children and their families seeking safety,” Bob Goodfellow said.

Americans celebrate in the streets in Washington DC after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Simon Ateba, Today News Africa

“While the previous administration committed numerous human rights violations, many violations preceded Donald Trump. In order to begin to turn the tide on the long history of U.S. human right violations, President-elect Biden and Congress must prioritize a bold human rights agenda. We have developed eleven key human rights priorities and will be working with our members to ensure they are implemented and upheld, including police violence, gun violence, refugees, gender, arms sales, and free expression.  

“We’ve been defending freedom from dictators and bullies around the world for six decades–and we’re not about to stop now. We will work to build momentum around these changes we are demanding of the U.S. government and hold the Biden administration accountable to U.S. human rights obligations.”  

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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