US election results: Biden’s name finally up in lights – but now he has to deliver

The victory party his campaign and supporters had waited five days to hold was a moment of release similar to those being expressed across the country.

Yes, they were celebrating Biden’s victory but, to many Democrats, it was just as much the beginning of a long goodbye to Donald Trump.

“It has taken so long,” said one woman. “This country needed change.”

Even if the COVID-19 pandemic had forced them to turn the event into another drive-in rally, the glitz and choreography of this peculiarly American political moment was all there.

Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris, were joined on stage by their spouses and extended families, the music and confetti and those fireworks creating the mood of celebration.

But in their words was the recognition that this is a time of extreme peril in this country and that the problems will soon be theirs to fix. The work has already begun, they said.

Biden’s empathy for those who voted for Donald Trump and would be feeling the disappointment now was perhaps typical of him and the sort of olive branch that will need to be in plentiful supply.

So too his frustration with Republicans and Democrats who refuse to cooperate – not a mysterious force but a “decision” he said – and something he will not tolerate.

It was encouraging in the spirit of healing. Whether it is pie-in-the-sky in the current political atmosphere is another matter.

The presence of Harris, the first woman ever elected vice president and a woman of colour at that, did make this literally a moment the like of which America has never seen.

That she may be the first but won’t be the last, her powerful message of inspiration to young girls everywhere, is certain to go down as a defining statement of modern America.

The election of Harris has undoubtedly shattered the glass ceiling Hillary Clinton was unable to break through four years ago, and it tells the story of the changing face of America and a country that wants to be represented in a whole new way.

As Biden looked up at his name spelled out in that spectacular fireworks display, how he must have pondered the political journey that had begun 48 years ago to the day.

On 7 November 1972, he was elected to the US Senate for the first time.

Triumph was swiftly followed by tragedy, the loss in a car accident of his wife and daughter, and a personal story so American it could have been a movie.

It has now carried him to his ultimate goal, the top job he has sought for more than 30 years.

A whole slice of America will not except legitimacy of his presidency and are certain to hound him throughout his term in office. The current president may be among them.

But love him or hate him, in a time of crisis, most Americans are now banking on Joe Biden succeeding.

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