Ep 5: Biden & Harris restart America’s faith in itself

On the morning of Saturday, November 7, 2020, the latest Pennsylvania vote count gave Joe Biden an insurmountable lead, securing him the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency.

  • At 11:24 am EST, TV networks began a cascade of announcements calling the election for Biden, setting off celebrations across the country, in communities large and small, and around the world.
  • Church bells tolled across Paris, and fireworks were set off over London. In India, the ancestral village of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris celebrated, as did a community in western Ireland, where President-elect Joe Biden still has family.
  • The election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice President of the United States is historic for many reasons, but first of all because Harris is the first woman elected to the White House, as well as the first black American and first American of Indian descent to serve as Vice President.

On Episode 5 of Earth Intelligence, we discuss the significance of the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris—how it restores America’s role as a force for good, in the defense of human rights and democracy, and as a global leader in shaping the sustainable future.

Our debrief from the 2020 US Presidential Election.

It must also be recognized, the replacement of Trump’s bluster and bullying with Biden’s decency and devotion was achieved by the deep commitment of African Americans, and especially of black women. The Biden-Harris coalition is one of the broadest and most diverse in US history, with strong support from young and first-time voters, women, seniors, Hispanic voters, African Americans, independents, and even Republicans tired of Trump’s abuses.

This diverse coalition is a true vote of the American people for the decency and inclusion both Biden and Harris have promised:

  • Joe Biden responded to the news of his election, by saying: “America, I’m honored that you have chosen me to lead our great country. The work ahead of us will be hard, but I promise you this: I will be a President for all Americans — whether you voted for me or not. I will keep the faith that you have placed in me.”
  • Kamala Harris has been eloquent about the mission to serve the whole country, saying “we may not agree on every detail, but we are united by the fundamental belief that every human being is of infinite worth, deserving of compassion, dignity and respect.”

Biden and Harris will take office in a time of crisis deeper and more far-reaching than any since at least the election of 1932, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the Presidency in the midst of a worsening Great Depression. The nation is more divided than at any time since the Civil War of the 1860s.

Their adoption of the motto (and the mission to) Build Back Better is crucial: The economy is stalled and/or collapsing, depending on the analysis: millions are out of work; 40 million face eviction; thousands of businesses have closed forever; an estimated 125 million Americans will face food insecurity this year.

From Tuesday, Nov 3 (Election Day) through Sunday, Nov 8, 1 in every 483 Americans (684,585 people) was diagnosed with a new case of COVID-19. Of those people, it is likely 17,000 will lose their lives (from just 6 days’ worth of infections). The nation is headed toward a dark and devastating winter, with 2,000 deaths per day likely for a sustained period.

One of the deepest divisions is over science: Trump has pushed tens of millions into the belief that doctors and scientists seek to control and disrupt their lives with public health protections, when those very protections—including acts as simple as wearing a mask in public—would save hundreds of thousands of lives and speed the nation’s journey to recovery.

There will certainly be a flood of grief and suspicion, as the nation wrestles with the impact of hundreds of thousands of new COVID deaths this winter, especially if public officials fail to protect people in their communities. But science denial may not be as much the religion of the Trump base as Trump has made it seem.

There is an opportunity—contingent on the degree to which Biden and Harris live their core message of an America that works for everyone—to rebuild the nation’s faith in science and innovation.

On Day 1, President Biden will formally restore US participation in the Paris Agreement.

  • It is crucial that for most Americans, his commitment to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide “no later than” 2050 is very deliberately intended to play out through the constructive diversification of economies large and small.
  • This will mean a great improvement in livelihoods and quality of life even for those communities that chose Trump, because they feel abandoned by mainstream economic gains.

The application of science to combatting COVID-19 is also a necessary first step to winning the struggle against degradation of the American way of life—which it now seems will be the most far-reaching legacy of the Trump years.

  • Already today, the first Monday after his election was announced, President-elect Biden will announce a task force of transition advisors to shape the nation’s science-based COVID response.
  • This evidence-based approach to containing and controlling the COVID-19 outbreak in the US will lay the ground for building back better and allowing school, small businesses, and communities to get back to thriving in the way they would naturally do.
  • There will be national support to rescue communities and businesses from the worst impacts of COVID-related economic disruptions. These will have to include a substantial commitment to feeding the hungry and healing the sick.

Also on Day 1, Joe Biden will begin his new administration’s action to confront systemic racial injustice. Tens of millions of Americans—as much as 10% of the nation—demonstrated for racial justice after the killing of George Floyd. Even in some mostly white Trump-voting Evangelical communities, people began (may for the first time) to reckon with their own natural moral demand that the nation finally transcend the age of racial injustice and systemic cruelty.

The election of Biden and Harris is a call for decency, for a restoration of the principle that the nation’s highest public servants are servants of all of the people. It is hard not to notice the significance of a hymn Joe Biden cited on Saturday night, during his address to the nation:

“You need not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day;
though thousands fall about you,
near you it shall not come…

For to his angels he’s given a command
to guard you in all of your ways.”

We believe the Biden-Harris administration will be focused on protecting and honoring the infinite worth and dignity of every human being. And we believe a key to that everyday effort will be the righteous application of science and evidence, to make sure America is building a future that works for all of its people, while restoring the health and resilience of natural systems.

Now, the work begins.

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