Itâ€™s over and itâ€™s time to move on, President-elect Joe Biden said in an address Monday night after the Electoral College had gathered to officially attest to his victory over President Donald Trump.
â€œThere is urgent work in front of us,â€ Biden, 78, said, speaking from a podium in Wilmington, Delaware, where he has been preparing to transition to power.
“Now it is time to turn the page as weâ€™ve done throughout our history â€” to unite, to heal,” he said.
“Once again in America, the rule of law, our Constitution, and the will of the people have prevailed,” he said. “Our democracy â€” pushed, tested, threatened â€” proved to be resilient, true and strong.”
Biden gave his speech not long after the final Electoral College votes were cast and he was formally chosen as the 46th president of the United States.
â€œGetting this pandemic under control and getting the nation vaccinated against this virus,â€ he said. â€œDelivering immediate economic help so badly needed by so many Americans who are hurting today, and then building our economy back better than it ever was.â€
Bidenâ€™s speech came some six weeks after the Nov. 3 election between him and President TrumpÂ at a time when the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemicâ€™s latest wave has spread faster across the U.S. than ever before â€” crossing a grim benchmark of 300,000 coronavirus deaths the same day.
Trump, 74, has continued to protest the election results, claiming without evidence that the race was â€œriggedâ€ and his second term in office was â€œstolenâ€ from him through conspiratorial means involving voting machines and numerous accomplices.
State and federal courts â€” including the Supreme Court â€” have dismissed the presidentâ€™s legal challenges and local officials from both parties have said they have not found widespread fraud.
On Monday, Biden denounced Trump’s attacks on the election in his most direct language yet, after weeks of brushing off his rival’s resistance to the results.
â€œThey [the legal challenges] were heard again and again,â€ Biden said.
“In America, when questions are raised about the legitimacy of any election, those questions are resolved through a legal process,” Biden said. “And that is precisely what happened here.”
Itâ€™s official, folks. Tune in as I deliver remarks on todayâ€™s electoral college vote certification and the strength and resilience of our democracy. https://t.co/Qp2c92mYUV
â€” Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 15, 2020
Biden also praised the tens of millions of voters who cast ballots this year, reflecting historically high interest in the election even amid the pandemic and social upheaval of 2020.
“If anyone didnâ€™t know it before, they know it 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 the leaders of this nation. To govern ourselves,” Biden said.
“American democracy works because Americans make it work at the local level,” he said.
He went on: “One of the extraordinary things we saw this year was these everyday Americans â€” our friends and neighbors, often volunteers, Democrats and Republicans and independents â€” demonstrating 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 then they could not and would not give credence to what they knew was not true.”
“They knew the elections they oversaw were honest and free and fair. They saw it with their own eyes,” Biden said. “And they wouldnâ€™t be bullied into saying anything different.”
â€œBy [Trump’s] own standards, these numbers represented a clear victory then and I respectfully suggest they do so now,â€ Biden said, referencing how Trump has bragged that his 2016 victory of 306 electoral votes was a â€œlandslideâ€ but that his 2020 loss when Biden won by that same amount was subject to unproven â€œfraud.â€
Trumpâ€™s conspiratorial statements in recent weeks have stoked heightened, and at times violent, rhetoric among his supporters, often aimed at election officials in swing states.
â€œThis has to stop,â€ Gabriel Sterling, a voting systems official in Georgia and self-described Trump-supporting Republican, warned this month. â€œSomeone’s going to get hurt, someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed.â€
Biden, who has campaigned in large part as a unifying figure who can cure Trump’s divisive tendencies, echoed that call again Monday.
â€œIt is my sincere hope we never again see anyone subjected to the kind of threats and abuse we saw in this election,â€ Biden said. â€œItâ€™s simply unconscionable.â€
He also spoke with sharp disapproval of a last-ditch legal push by the Texas attorney general to have the Supreme Court intervene in the election and toss out some 20 million votes in four states â€” a lawsuit supported by Trump and numerous other state Republicans. The high court declined to hear the case.
“Itâ€™s a position so extreme weâ€™ve never seen it before â€” a position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rule of law and refused to honor our Constitution,” Biden said, calling the suit an “unprecedented assault on our democracy.”
Politicians â€œdonâ€™t take power,â€ he said, â€œthe people grant it to them.â€
“The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago,â€ he said. â€œAnd we now know that nothing â€” not even a pandemic or an abuse of power â€” can extinguish that flame.”