We offer sincere congratulations to former Vice President Joe Biden for winning the presidency last week, at 77, the oldest man ever elected to the nation’s highest office. With him, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris was elected the first woman — and the first Black and Indian American — vice president. The vote totals were also historic: Biden received the most votes of any presidential candidate ever, over 77 million. President Trump had the second-most, with over 72 million.
As of Thursday, the Associated Press had called all but two states — Georgia and North Carolina. Biden led Trump in Georgia, and North Carolina was expected to go to Trump. Biden had 290 Electoral College votes, 20 more than are needed to win the presidency. If he were to win Georgia, he would extend his total to 306, a clear mandate.
Biden should feel a deep sense of pride in the race that he ran. He conducted a clean campaign that respected the health and safety of voters during the coronavirus pandemic. When Trump attempted to stir controversy during the first chaotic presidential debate on Sept. 30 by raising questions about Biden’s son Hunter — while the former vice president was speaking about his dead son, Beau — he did not take the bait. He did not engage Trump in the ugly war of words that the president sought.
Biden could easily have made hay about nepotism in the Trump administration. After all, Trump gave top jobs to his daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, both of whom have continued to engage in their daily business activities while working at the White House, creating any number of potential conflicts of interest. For that matter, the Trump Organization has carried on its dealings even while the president has been in office.
Yes, Biden could have made much of all that, escalating the rhetoric in what could have been a terrible tit-for-tat game with the president. But he didn’t. He left Trump’s kids alone, while proudly defending his own.
In doing so, Biden showed his fundamental decency, his respect for the moral codes that we expect a president to abide by. He campaigned hard, but he never lost his sense of self-respect by engaging in the kind of scorched-earth tactics that got Trump elected in 2016. Biden ran a principled campaign, most notably in his socially distanced approach to reaching people through Zoom sessions and car rallies — and he always wore a mask. In other words, Biden set an example for all of us to follow.
And that, in part, is why he is our president-elect.