Shortly after he officially secured enough Electoral College votes to become the next president of the United States, Joe Biden delivered a fiery speech calling on Americans to move past Donald Trump’s monthlong failed crusade to overturn the election results.
“If anyone didn’t know it before, they know now,” Biden said from Wilmington, Delaware. “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 the leaders of this nation, to govern ourselves.”
Electors confirmed Biden’s victory earlier on Monday, pushing him past the 270-vote threshold. This stage of the election doesn’t typically make headlines, since election projections, state certifications, recounts and, in Trump’s case, numerous lawsuits have already made the winner clear. But Trump has still not conceded the race to Biden and is instead plowing forward with baseless accusations that widespread voter fraud cost him reelection.
That attitude is the antithesis of American values, Biden said Monday.
“In America, politicians don’t take power. People grant power to them,” he said. “The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know that nothing — not even a pandemic or an abuse of power — can extinguish that flame.”
He also chastised Trump and those fighting his battles for characterizing election officials as agents of fraud.
“We all wish that our fellow Americans in these positions will always show such courage and commitment to free and fair elections, but it is my sincere hope we never again see anyone subjected to the kind of threats and abuse we saw from the selection,” he said. “It’s simply unconscionable.”
The number of personal attacks and threats against poll workers in this election was “unprecedented,” Lawrence Norden, director of the Election Reform Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, told PBS Frontline last month.
Biden also echoed promises he made on the campaign trail to unite the country’s divided factions. “I will work just as hard for those of you who didn’t vote for me as I will for those who did,” he said.
Biden’s electoral vote victory comes the same day the U.S. surpassed 300,000 deaths from COVID-19. The nationwide surge in new coronavirus cases has maxed out hospital capacity in some areas of the country.
In his final weeks in office, Trump has taken no action to prevent the spread of disease. He and his surrogates are instead accusing Democratic state leaders of imposing “draconian restrictions” on their constituents with public health measures. Trump has expended most of his energy this past month on fighting the election results with a series of longshot lawsuits, none of which has been successful.
Biden, alongside Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, will be sworn into office on Jan. 20.