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US president-elect Joe Biden vows to fight racism in victory speech

Biden vows to address some of the country's most pressing issues, including Covid-19, health care, climate change and racial injustice
Speaking from Delaware, Biden vowed to be a president for all Americans, not only those who voted for him
Speaking from Delaware alongside vice president-elect Kamala Harris, Biden said he would be a president for all Americans, not only those who voted for him (AFP)
By
Ali Harb

Addressing a divided country for the first time as president-elect, Joe Biden called for healing and unity, urging Americans to bridge their political differences without hostility and stressed that people who disagree politically are "not enemies".

Speaking from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, late on Saturday for the first time after he was declared winner of the presidential race, Biden vowed to be a president for all Americans, not only those who voted for him.

"I pledged to be a president who seeks not to divide, but unify, who doesn't see red states and blue states, only sees the United States," Biden said.

Vice president-elect Kamala Harris had introduced Biden to the stage. In her own remarks, Harris said the history-making moment of her election to the vice presidency as a Black woman who is the daughter of immigrants would not have been possible without the work of women who came before her. 

"Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all, including the Black women who are too often overlooked, but so often prove they are the backbone of our democracy," Harris said.

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She also praised her future governing partner, Biden. "Joe was a healer, a uniter, a tested and steady hand."

For his part, Biden vowed to swiftly address some of the country's most pressing issues, including the rampant spread of the coronavirus, ensuring access to health care, climate change and racial injustice.

"Americans called upon us to marshal the forces of decency, the forces of fairness to marshal, the forces of science and the forces of hope in the great battles of our time," Biden said. 

"The battle to control the virus; the battle to build prosperity; the battle to secure your family's health care; the battle to achieve racial justice and root out systemic racism in this country, and the battle to save our planet by getting climate under control."

The president-elect made a nod for Black voters who helped him secure the Democratic nomination and subsequently the presidency. "You always had my back, and I'll have yours," he said, addressing the African-American community.

He also vowed to advance equality. "We must make the promise of the country real for everybody, no matter their race, their ethnicity, their faith, their identity or their disability."

Biden did not mention his opponent Donald Trump or make any foreign policy pronouncements on Saturday.

Trump does not concede

Trump does not appear to have any plans to concede the race as he continued to falsely claim that he won the election, casting doubt about the integrity of the vote.

"I WON THE ELECTION, GOT 71,000,000 LEGAL VOTES. BAD THINGS HAPPENED WHICH OUR OBSERVERS WERE NOT ALLOWED TO SEE," Trump tweeted in all-caps hours after the race was called for Biden.

"NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WERE SENT TO PEOPLE WHO NEVER ASKED FOR THEM!"

Since he announced his candidacy in 2015, Trump has been stoking xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment. In his first speech as a candidate, he called Mexican immigrants "rapists".

Months later, he called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims" entering the United States. And as president, he imposed a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries.

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During the 2020 campaign, he revived the Islamophobic rhetoric, incessantly attacking Congresswoman Ilhan Omar by casting her as a foreigner telling Americans how to run their country. 

He also repeatedly warned that Biden would turn key swing states into "refugee camps" for Muslims from "jihadist nations".

Trump and his allies have vowed to challenge the legitimacy of the vote in courts. But in the absence of evidence pointing towards large-scale voter fraud, legal experts say a push through the courts will not change the outcome of the race.

When Biden gets sworn in on 20 January, Trump will become a private citizen without standing to be in the White House, whether or not he concedes defeat.

"Having been defeated, Trump will have no way to exercise presidential power after that point. Federal law makes it a crime for any private citizen to purport falsely to act as an executive officer," Laurence Tribe, an American legal scholar and professor at Harvard University, told MEE.

In cities across the country, Americans had taken to the streets to celebrate Trump's defeat on Saturday.

"I can finally say I'm proud to be an American," Washington resident Dominic Henson told Middle East Eye.

"We have a lot of injustices in this nation, racial injustices, we really have to figure out something, but I think that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will get the job done."