After days of nervousness and wide swings in the American electorate, Joe Biden emerged Saturday as the president-elect of the United States with a historic vice president-elect Kamala Harris — and social media went into overdrive.
Although some TikTok teens had already begun folding up their Trump flags, fashion waited until the call was made to blast their relief and congratulations across Instagram.
Enthusiasm rode high across America all day and into the night, alighting streets from New York and Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., and San Francisco in song and dance after major media called the race on Saturday. What sealed the deal was the Biden-Harris campaign’s lock on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes, tipping it over the 270 mark to seal the win.
The victory is historic in multiple ways, and not just for the former vice president, who — once the youngest senator to reach Capital Hill — will be the oldest president to be inaugurated. It’s perhaps even more historic for his running mate, Harris, who will become the first Black woman and first South Asian to become the vice president.
Harris, too, took to social media after receiving the news, sharing her phone call with the president-elect in a video that went viral instantly.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 7, 2020
Saturday may be all about celebration for the Democrats, but for Biden, the work has only just begun. He has already been receiving coronavirus updates, presumably to help him get a jump in planning a task force, and his Secret Service detail has elevated security around him.
Few D.C. insiders or pundits believe that President Trump, who remains defiant about the election results and continues to threaten a multitude of legal actions in various swing states, will participate in a peaceful transition of power. If true, that will only add to the challenges facing the Biden administration on Day One.
The coronavirus pandemic may have slipped from the headlines lately, thanks to the election frenzy, but that doesn’t change the fact that the U.S. has been breaking daily infection records for the last three days, reaching an apex of 127,000 cases as of Friday. Add a cratering economy, along with high unemployment in a labor deficit of 10 million jobs, and it’s clear Biden will have his hands full.
But — as the jam-packed, yet masked-up masses in the street attest — there’s optimism that comes with the change in leadership, particularly in the president-elect’s much-touted ability to reach across the aisle and make deals. Americans hardest hit by the pandemic or economic downturn hope that a new stimulus package will be among them.
Organizations like the National Retail Federation seem to be among those relieved by the outcome. The group issued a statement Saturday congratulating Biden and Harris and pledging to work with the new administration:
“As the largest private-sector employer in the country, the retail industry looks forward to continuing our tradition of working with presidents and their administrations of both major political parties to advance the industry’s priorities in job creation, economic development and career opportunities for millions of Americans. We congratulate president-elect Biden and vice president-elect Harris on a hard-fought victory,” said National Retail Federation president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay.
“Throughout this year’s extraordinary circumstances, retailers have shown their resilience and adaptability and will continue to ensure the safety and well-being of our customers, the communities we serve, and the 52 million working Americans supported by the retail industry as we enter a busy holiday season,” he added.
As well wishes pour in, there will also be no shortage of advice for the newly elected team to consider.
In a recent ABC broadcast, Rahm Emanuel offered a few words of advice. Along with accelerating testing and tracing, the former White House chief of staff and former mayor of Chicago said Biden needs to turn immediate attention to stemming the economic bleed.
“You can’t get an economy growing if states and companies are laying people off,” said Emanuel. “The second piece, one of the things we’ve got to do is to rebuild, mainly on infrastructure. And there’s going to be people, like at J.C. Penney and other retail…those jobs aren’t coming back.
“Give them the tools [and tell them,] ‘Six months, you’re going to become a computer coder. We’ll pay for it,’ and you’ll get millions of people to sign up for that,” he added. “They’re not going back to parts of the retail economy, and we need to give them a lifeline to what’s the next chapter.”