As I sat watching the news media last Saturday as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were announced as the presidential winners of the 2020 election, my first reaction was: "Whew! I'm certainly glad that is over!" Under normal circumstances, that election would probably have been called shortly after Election Day.
Even though it was a tension-filled election for people on both sides of the voting, several things immediately stand out. Joe Biden was elected with the highest popular vote in the history of the United States. Kamala Harris was elected as the first woman of color (and the first woman) to occupy the office of Vice-President. And, as far as I can remember, President Trump is the first sitting President to refuse to concede defeat. Instead, as I write this column, he is still raging against the media, the Democrats, anyone who voted against him, and a court system that refuses to comply with his demands.
Regardless, as a chaplain, the completion of the election process presents a number of important issues yet to be resolved. First, it is obvious that we are a deeply divided country. Someone now must step up and begin the reconciliation process. As an observation, I have a very difficult time admitting that all of the media made similar mistakes in having Biden leading all through the election process only to see the polls turn out wrong in so many states where he was leading. I think it is probably more correct to say that while President Trump did accomplish a lot of good things while in office, the general population was opposed to his public statements and leadership style. However, Trump's "Blitz Krieg" rallies just before time to vote probably led a lot of people to vote for him anyway, thus changing the value of the polls. Along with this, it is possible that many of Biden's supporters voted by mail because they did not want to be exposed to mask less voters in the long lines at the polling places.
This is simply to say that we are a divided country and that we need to begin now to find ways to heal our differences and wounds. Blaming one another and our institutions is not the answer.
Second, while I'm not sure any sitting President could have halted the pandemic, it still is a tremendous threat to our life styles, economy, and country. Almost lost in the media as they announced Biden and Harris the winners in the presidential race was the revelation that the White House Chief of Staff and several other people there had come down with covid-19. This is terrible news. However, along with this revelation is the distinct possibility that hundreds of people involved in presidential rallies without wearing their masks may also have been infected with the virus. This coronavirus is deadly, and it take all of us working together to defeat it. Because of its contagious assault, this is one of the most difficult areas we chaplains have to deal with on a regular basis. We cannot visit people in person, care for people with the virus, and even attend church without the fear of contacting it. This will continue to be a real challenge as we face new leadership.
Third, we still have a large number of issues that have not been decided. The nature of our health insurance, Roe versus Wade, the direction of our economy, and others issues are still out there; and they will not be resolved by fighting and blaming one another. They will be decided and we will move forward when we work together.
Whether or not a person liked the outcome of this election is really not relevant now. The American people have gone to the polls and voted. Licking our wounds and promising to continue the conflicts are not the answer. No one likes to lose, and winners are not privileged to berate the losers. We will raise up new leaders and enhance the success of our country when we work together for one another and for the American people. President-Elect Biden has a tremendous job before him, and he is worthy of our prayers and support.
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Robert Box is the former chaplain for the Bella Vista Police Department and is currently the Fire Department chaplain. Opinions expressed are those of the author.