Joe Biden called for unity after NBC News projected him to become the 46th president of the United States late Saturday morning.
“With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do if we do it together,” a statement from Biden read in part.
Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said though unity is the hope, many people may be skeptical.
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“The polarization or division among the electorate was very clear. Republicans very much had hoped to return Donald Trump to the White House. Democrats wanted to send him back to Mar-a-Lago,” Jillson said. “The Senate has remained in Republican hands, so first we’ve got to see if Biden can work with (Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell before we have to be concerned about whether the whole country can be brought together.”
Jillson added, a united front must start with elected leaders. However, he said that won’t happen until emotions settle down from both sides.
“I think bipartisan in Washington would do a lot to resolve the tensions between the Democrats and Republicans in the electorate and general public,” Jillson said. “I don’t expect a spirit of cooperation to break out in Washington or in the country anytime soon. It will be a process, a development. If our leaders can show that they can work together to launch this administration, on some spending bills in Congress, maybe do an infrastructure bill that they can cooperate on, then I think that citizens will see that.”
Bob Ray Sanders, former co-chair of Fort Worth’s Race and Culture Task Force, said he had “more hope today” upon hearing the news of Biden’s projected win.
“I have seen a lot in my lifetime. I was born under Jim Crow in Texas, so I’ve experienced Jim Crow. I’ve watched us integrate, I’ve watched us demonstrate. I’ve watched us do all these things over the years. I’ve seen the country as divided as I thought I would ever see it until the last few years. It’s more divided now,” Sanders said. “We actually have families against families. We have neighbors against neighbors. We have church members against church members because they’re taking sides.”
Sanders added, unity must be at the forefront of the Biden administration. He said the conversation has already started with the protests regarding George Floyd in June as demonstrators called for justice.
“I saw a ‘coming together’ among these demonstrators because they were beginning to understand the racial divide, for example. They were beginning to understand the conflicts we have with criminal justice and with other inequities. Many of them voted,” Sanders said. “Joe Biden has to make sure that conversation continues but in a more meaningful way, not just talk. It can’t be just talk. There has to be action and he may have to enlist the help of Barack Obama again. Help from George W. Bush again.”
It’s also important to recognize that "unity" does not mean perfection, Sanders said.
“The union will never be perfect, but there’s no reason we can’t keep striving for it,” he said. “It means that you and I, for example, whether we’re neighbors or brothers or sisters who had conflict over this election, that we can still be relatives. We can still be neighbors. We can still be friends and we can still work for the good of the country. Not for us individually, but for the good of the country.”
In a statement, President Donald Trump announced his campaign will begin “prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated” starting Monday.
To read the full statement, click here.