After a tense week of waiting for votes to be counted and results to be verified it feels like we can finally take a breath and celebrate the fact that Joe Biden has won the election and will become the 46th President of the United States of America. President-elect Biden has to date received over 76 million votes, the most ever received by a United States presidential candidate, and Kamala Harris will be the first woman and the first Black person and person of South Asian descent to hold the office of the vice president.
At the same time we cannot afford to be complacent. Even now, President Trump continues to attack America’s democracy through his baseless accusations of electoral fraud and challenges to the validity of the result which has been widely accepted, including by members of his own party. His refusal to respect the will of the people, and his administration’s unfounded legal challenges are solely aimed at fueling distrust, anger, and unrest. At this critical moment we must stand together to condemn these actions and ensure that the process is allowed to conclude and deliver a quick and peaceful transition of power as it has done for over 200 years.
Even in light of the ongoing challenges, this is still a major victory for democracy. Our democratic institutions weathered the storm, and we witnessed a resilient electoral system and dedicated officials working to enable record voter participation from the most diverse electorate in the country’s history. This election was a referendum on the politics of hate and division, and the American people made their voices heard. We want a country with equal opportunities for all, where justice prevails, science matters, and racism and xenophobia are rejected.
There have been other important election milestones across the country at all levels of government that we ought to celebrate. To name a few, Sarah McBride became the nation’s first transgender state senator, and many other LGBTQ candidates won races at the state and local levels. In three key sheriff races - in Charleston, South Carolina, and in Cobb and Gwinnett Counties in Georgia - voters chose to hold the police accountable, promoting racial justice, and ending local collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. California’s Proposition 17 passed, reestablishing voting rights to people on parole for felony convictions. These victories were powered by organizers working for years to mobilize people around racial, climate, LGBTQ+, economic, and immigrant justice. Several of our partners were central to building the collective power needed to advance these major wins in what was for many of them their largest ever voter outreach effort. They partnered with other organizations, they told their stories to audiences across the country, and they worked unceasingly despite coming under attack from the Trump administration. Today, we recognize and congratulate them for their hard work leading up to this moment.
Yet while we have a lot to celebrate, we must not lose sight of the challenges ahead. We are in a pandemic that continues to take too many lives, especially among people of color, and that is deepening the country’s health and economic crises. The issues of systemic racism, inequality, and division that were present before the election -- and that President Trump has played on and exacerbated during his term -- are still present today and need to be addressed with urgency.
Looking ahead, we must all continue to work for justice and an equitable future. We need to organize and prepare for the final two months of the Trump administration, to make sure that it is not able to further damage our democratic institutions or to attack the many communities it has targeted over the last four years.
As a philanthropic organization focused on building just and fair societies, we stand ready to support our partners and the communities they serve in these tumultuous times. We remain committed to strengthening democracy by making sure that everyone can fully participate, especially those in marginalized communities. We’ve seen our partners’ impact in this election, and we’re hopeful that together we can, and we will, overcome the challenges that lie ahead.