Celebrating victory: ‘For a brief, shining moment, Trump was gone’
People gather in Black Lives Matter Plaza while celebrating President-elect Joe Biden's win over Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States, Nov. 7, 2020, in Washington. | Jacquelyn Martin / AP

When the announcement came, car horns blared. Bells rang out. Pots and pans turned into percussion instruments. There was jubilation and dancing in the streets. The nightmare had ended, and Joe Biden had won the U.S. presidency.

The festivities on Nov. 7 were far more about relief than celebration, but it felt good just the same. Even though technically he remains president until Jan. 20, for a brief, shining moment, Donald Trump was gone.

Shaqualla Johnson, holding bullhorn, jumps during a march celebrating the election of Joe Biden as president in Detroit, Nov. 7, 2020. | David Goldman / AP

Then we were plunged back into the present. What about the Senate? Look at the Supreme Court! A few progressive Facebook friends began to rail against Biden the “warmonger,” the establishment centrist who was no different than the rest of them.

Yes, we know all that. We did not get the brave new leadership those of us on the left felt we needed. We got the establishment choice, who was anointed early on, even as he foundered in the primaries. But we got a human being. And right now, sitting here in Washington, D.C., anyone with a shred of decency and compassion is gold dust to us after almost four years of hell.

More than 76 million voted for Biden, and over 71 million for Trump. Still, that’s almost a 50-50 split. Polarized doesn’t even begin to describe the atmosphere in this country right now. We are riven and torn and slashed and wounded. We need recovery time.

And Biden, for all his faults, is really good at helping people—and hopefully now this country—recover from pain.

So while it’s fair to criticize Biden’s centrism and voting record, and the deeply flawed system that got him the nomination, now is just not the time. Instead, we need to focus on the bright spots. And the Biden-Harris ticket has delivered us a few. They include:

The Black vote

Arguably, it was the Black vote, especially in Pennsylvania, that won the presidency for Biden. The Black community, deeply wounded, turned out for Biden, who has vowed to always have their back. Black lives matter and the Black vote really mattered. That could inspire even bigger Black voter turnouts next time, which could change everything, especially in Georgia in the upcoming run-off for two U.S. Senate seats essential to a Biden presidency not mired in gridlock.

Black women

In Georgia, it was Black women organizers, led in part by the indomitable Stacey Abrams, that made the difference. When Black women can feel the power, as they do now, with incoming Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as inspiration and role model, we may finally be on the path to what we really need—a Black woman president.

Climate change

Biden has declared climate change the “number one issue facing humanity,” and promises to return the U.S. to the Paris Agreement. Although a poor comment on his predecessors, Biden’s climate plan is in fact the most progressive of any incoming president. Watching him closely will be young people, who will be stepping hard on Biden’s coattails if he wavers in the wrong direction on climate. Many who worked hard for Bernie Sanders and a Green New Deal joined the Biden campaign. Biden owes them. He knows it and they know it, and they will come to collect.

Unshackling federal agencies

A friend who works at the U.S. Department of Energy rejoiced that she can again use the words “climate change”—banned by the Trump administration—in renewable energy reports, which will now be published rather than thrown away. The puppets and deniers at environmental agencies will be replaced by credentialed people who care. Public schools will no longer be given the shaft by an education secretary who cares only for the children of the elite rich.

Brittney Hernandez celebrates Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election, Nov. 7, 2020, in Portland, Ore. | Paula Bronstein / AP

For sure, the white supremacists, faux Christians, conspiracy theorists, and the rest of those 70 million who inked in the bubble next to Trump’s name on the ballot aren’t going away. Biden’s vow to heal the country could be an insurmountable challenge. We are, as the famous Bette Davis line goes, in for a bumpy ride.

But before we step back on the roller coaster, we need to celebrate. We knew as we blasted Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” from our porches on Nov. 7 that it wasn’t perfect. Entrenched racism won’t be erased by Biden or probably anyone for decades, even generations. COVID-19 can’t be cured yet. The economy won’t rebound any time soon. People will continue to suffer.

But in defeating Trump we see not only the back of him, but also his despicable family and his criminal, cruel, and callous cabal of appointees. We have endured the most repulsive regime in living memory. So for a few days at least, grant us our joy. We need it. And we’ve earned it.

This op-ed originally appeared in Morning Star.


Linda Pentz Gunter
Linda Pentz Gunter

Linda Pentz Gunter is the curator and editor of Beyond Nuclear International. The central focus of her work is on organizing and collaboration within the international anti-nuclear movement. She also works on the link between nuclear weapons and nuclear power development.