President-Elect Joe Biden addressed the nation on Monday evening after the Electoral College officially cast 306 votes for him, solidifying his victory over President Donald Trump, who received 232 votes.
Biden began by praising the resilience of the American democratic system, which has remained intact despite four years of assaults by Trump and his Republican allies:
Together, Vice-President-Elect Harris and I earned 306 electoral votes, well exceeding the 270 votes needed to secure victory. 306 electoral votes is the same number of electoral votes that Donald Trump and Vice President Pence received in 2016. At the time, President Trump calls the Electoral College tally a landslide. By his own standards, these numbers represent a clear victory than and I respectively suggest they do so now. If anyone didn’t know before, they know now, what beats deep in the hearts of the American people is this, democracy, the right to be heard, to have your vote counted, to choose leaders of this nation, to govern ourselves. In America, politicians don’t take power. People grant power to them. The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. We now know nothing, not even a pandemic or an abuse of power can extinguish that flame. And as the people kept it aflame, so did courageous state and local officials and election workers. American democracy works because America makes it work at a local level.
Continuing on, the president-elect remarked on the steadfastness of American election workers from across the political spectrum whose diligence ensured a free and fair election:
One of the extraordinary things we saw this year was that everyday Americans, our friends and neighbors, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, demonstrated absolute courage. They showed a deep and unwavering faith in and a commitment to the law. They did their duty in the face of a pandemic. And they could not and would not give credence to what they knew was not true. They knew this election was overseen. It was overseen by them. It was honest, free, and fair. They saw with their own eyes and they wouldn’t be bullied into saying anything different. It was truly remarkable because so many of these patriotic Americans were subject to so much enormous political pressure, verbal abuse, even threats of physical violence. We all wish that our fellow Americans in these positions will always show such commitment to free and fair elections. It is my sincere hope we never again see anyone subjected to the kind of threats and abuse we saw in this election. Simply unconscionable. We owe these public servants a debt of gratitude. They didn’t seek the spotlight. Our democracy survived because of them. Which is proof once more that it is everyday americans, infused with honor, character, and decency, driving the heart of this nation. In this election, their integrity was matched by the strength, independence, and integrity of our judicial system.
Biden pummeled Trump for abusing the legal system as a means of retaining power that the American people decided that he no longer deserves:
In America, when questions are raised about the legitimacy of an election, those questions are resolved through legal processes. That is what happened here. The Trump campaign brought dozens and dozens of legal challenges to contest the result. They were heard again and again. And each of the times they were heard, they were found to be without merit. Time and again, president trump’s lawyers present arguments to state officials, state legislatures, and ultimately to the united states supreme court, twice. They were heard by more than 80 judges across this country and in every case, no cause or evidence was found to reverse or question or dispute the results. A few states went for recounts. All accounts were confirmed. Results in Georgia were counted three times. Didn’t change the outcome. Recount conducted in Wisconsin actually saw our margin grow. The margin we had in Michigan was 14 times the margin president won that state by four years ago. Our margin in Pennsylvania was nearly twice the size of the Trump margin. And yet none of this has stopped baseless claims about the legitimacy of the results. Even more stunning, 17 Republican attorneys general and 126 Republican members of the congress actually signed on to the lawsuit filed by the state of Texas. That lawsuit asked the United States Supreme Court to reject the certified vote counts in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. This legal maneuver was an effort by elected officials to try to get the Supreme Court to wipe out the votes of more than 20 million Americans in other states, and to hand the presidency to a candidate who lost the Electoral College, lost the popular vote, and lost each and every one of the states whose votes they were trying to reverse. It is a position so extreme, we’ve never seen it before. A position that refused to respect the will of the people, the rule of law, and to honor our Constitution. Thankfully, a unanimous Supreme Court immediately and completely rejected this effort. The Court sent a clear signal to President Trump that there would be no part of an unprecedented assault on our democracy. Every single avenue was made available for President Trump to contest the results. He took full advantage of each and every one of those. President Trump was denied no course of action he wanted to take. He took his case to Republican governors, a Republican secretary of state, Republican state legislatures, Republican-appointed judges at every level. And in a case decided after the Supreme Court said go rejection, a judge appointed by President Trump wrote, ‘this court has allowed the plaintiff the chance to make his case and he has lost on the merits.’ End of quote. Even the president’s own cybersecurity chief, overseeing our elections, said it was the most secure election in American history. And summarily was let go. Let me say it again. His own cybersecurity chief overseeing the selection said it was the most secure in American history. Respecting the will of the people is at the heart of our democracy, even when we find those results hard to accept. But that is the obligation of those who take a sworn duty to uphold the Constitution.
Biden said that Congress has a duty to uphold the will of the people, and he thanked Senate Republicans for refusing to feed Trump’s scam.
Four years ago when I was a sitting vice president, it was my responsibility to announce the tally of the Electoral College votes in a joint session of Congress that voted to elect Donald Trump. I did my job. And I’m pleased but not surprised by the number of my former colleagues in the Republican Senate who have acknowledged the results of the Electoral College. I thank them and I’m convinced we can work together for the good of the nation on many subjects. That is the duty owed to the people, to our Constitution, to our history. In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed. We the people voted. Faith in our institutions held. The integrity of our elections remains intact. Now it is time to turn the page, to unite, to heal.
Biden closed with a message of hope, which this country desperately needs as the COVID-19 pandemic’s relentless spread worsens:
As I said in this campaign, I will be president for all Americans. I will work just as hard for those of you that didn’t vote for me as I will for those who did. There is urgent work in front of us. Getting this pandemic under control and getting the nation vaccinated against this virus, delivering immediate economic help so badly needed by so many Americans, and building our economy back better than it ever was. Doing so, we need to work together, to give each other a chance, to lower the temperature, and most of all, to stand in solidarity as fellow Americans, to see each other, our pain, our struggles, our hopes and our dreams. We are a great nation. We are good people. We come from different places, hold different beliefs, but we share in common a love for this country, a belief in its limitless possibilities. We the United States of America have always set the example to the world for a peaceful transition of power. I know the task before us won’t be easy. It is tempered by the pain so many of us are feeling today. Our nation passed a grim milestone. 300,000 deaths due to this virus. My heart goes out to each of you in this dark winter of the pandemic. About to spend the holidays and the new year with a black hole in your heart, without the ones you love at your side. My heart goes out to all of you who have fallen on hard times through no fault of your own, unable to sleep at night, staring at the ceiling, weighed down by the worry of what tomorrow will bring for you and for your family. But we faced difficult times before. I know we will get through this one together. That is how we get through it together. As we start the hard work to be done, may this moment give us the strength to rebuild this house of ours upon a rock that can never be washed away. For where there is discord, union. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is darkness, light. This is who we are as a nation. This is the America we love. And that is the america we are going to be. So thank you all. May god bless you and may god protect our troops and all of those who stand watch over our democracy. Thank you. Thanks for the congratulations. Appreciate it.
On January 6, Congress will certify the Electoral College tally, formally concluding the 2020 election.
Thirty-seven days until the inauguration.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.