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Biden’s defeat of Trump is the most important win since FDR

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As the nation awoke the morning after Election Day, reactions seemed to suggest Democrats had lost nearly every office in the land. Numerous news stories recorded “huge Democratic disappointment.” How, many Democrats asked, could we be losing House seats and fail to take back the Senate? And with Biden running behind in early returns, many began to worry that far-left critics were correct: Biden had lost because he had “run the most plodding and forgettable presidential campaign in recent memory.”

What a difference a few days — and a few million mail-in ballots — make.

It is now clear that Biden has won the White House. Biden’s remarkable campaign will be increasingly regarded in coming days, and by posterity, as something of a miracle, among the best and most important in American history.

For starters, Biden is the first challenger to beat an incumbent president in a true two-person race in nearly a century — since Franklin Roosevelt beat Herbert Hoover in 1932. (Reagan 1980 and Clinton 1992 included third-party candidates).

Biden also received the most popular votes of any candidate in history, nearly 75 million (at this writing), and at least 4.2 million more than Donald Trump. Biden carried Georgia, which had not voted Democratic since 1992. He won Arizona, which has voted Republican in all but one race since 1952. And Biden carried the “blue wall” states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that Trump carried in 2016. All told, Biden is set to win 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232.

Not only that, but Biden was running against by far the most ruthless, win-at-all-costs, nihilistic president in American history.

Supported by thousands of disturbingly supine Republican officeholders, one of the country’s two great major parties was turned into an army of cowering enablers. Add to that Fox News, social media propaganda and other news organizations that amplified the president’s misleading statements, and Trump was able to assemble a powerful political culture free of facts. In short, Trump was willing to risk tearing the nation apart to win.

Yet Biden still beat him. It is how Biden won that matters most.

Biden won by reasserting basic truth and appealing to the common sense and better angels of American nature. This makes Biden’s win all the more remarkable. In his own words, Biden did it by emphasizing “unity over division, hope over fear, science over fiction.”

This appeal to truth, fairness and civility was no accident.

Biden ran both a tough and clean campaign focused on uniting the country, defeating COVID-19, and getting the economy up and running again. His main message — “Build Back Better” — spoke both to the public health and economic crisis Trump could not fix and to the moral chaos and threat to the rule of law that Trump fomented.

This unifying approach augurs well for Biden’s presidency. Biden is likely to face not just a Republican Senate led by an unprincipled Mitch McConnell but a deeply divided country, almost half of which has been radicalized by a delusional and vicious president. Biden will inherit a nation suffering more deeply than ever from the coronavirus pandemic and its huge human and economic costs. And he will lead a country struggling to confront its racial, class and income inequality divisions.

Yet Biden may accomplish more than many political observers think. His instinct to unify the nation means that on most major issues Biden will focus on growing the middle ground in U.S. politics, creating a big tent set of policies focused primarily on ending the pandemic and boosting economic well-being and opportunities for all citizens.

Biden said Nov. 6, “The purpose of our politics, the work of the nation isn’t to fan the flames of conflict but to solve problems, to guarantee justice, to improve the lives of our people.”

Yes, Biden faces huge challenges. But on the first and biggest test so far — getting rid of the most dangerous president in U.S. history — Biden has passed in stunning and historic fashion by taking the high road. It would be a mistake to underestimate him, again.

Paul Bledsoe is president of Bledsoe & Associates, a policy and communications consultancy, a lecturer at American University’s Center for Environmental Policy and a strategic advisor at the Progressive Policy Institute. He served as staff member in the U.S. House, Senate Finance Committee, Interior Department and on President Bill Clinton’s White House climate change task force. He also serves on the executive council of Clean Energy for Biden, a group of more than 5,000 clean energy experts and professionals who support Joe Biden for president.

Tags 2020 election Biden win Bill Clinton Donald Trump historic Joe Biden Joe Biden 2020 presidential campaign mail-in ballots Mitch McConnell Trump presidency Trump tweets Voting Result

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