WASHINGTON — Thousands of people took to the streets in celebration Saturday after the Associated Press announced Democrat Joe Biden would become the 46th president of the United States.
The call came after several days of tense waiting as votes in key battleground states — including Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia — were counted while the current president, Donald Trump, tried to undermine the results with lies and false accusations about fraud.
Trump, who was golfing when the results were announced, has already signaled he plans to challenge the results in court.
In Hawaii, voters overwhelmingly backed Biden’s bid for the White House in what has become a historic election in terms of turnout and the number of votes cast.
Biden, the former vice president to Hawaii-born Barack Obama, won the Aloha State with more than 63% of the vote to Trump’s nearly 34%.
Kamala Harris, Biden’s pick for vice president, made history in her own right. Harris is the first woman, first Black and first South Asian American to become vice-president elect.
Hawaii Congressman Ed Case was the first in the state’s delegation to issue a statement on Biden’s win, saying that despite the delay in counting votes, the nation “took the time democracy deserved.”
“Now the real work begins, of charting a better path forward for all Americans, of healing a bitterly divided country, of listening to and including the almost half of our fellow Americans who chose differently,” Case said. “This work will be profoundly difficult. But today we all can reflect with pride and humility on the resilience of our democracy and recommit ourselves each in our own way to our own role and responsibility.”
Biden’s win over Trump was not as resounding as some polls had suggested it might be. Democrats did not perform as well as expected in both House and Senate races across the country.
At this point it is unlikely Democrats will retake control of the Senate, a prospect that once seemed attainable just days ago. The balance of the Senate will not be decided until all votes are counted and the results of January runoff elections in Georgia are finalized.
In an interview with Civil Beat, Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz expressed his excitement for a Biden presidency, saying that it will be “a real thrill” to have someone in the White House who he can work with on issues such as coronavirus relief aid, climate change and Native Hawaiian issues.
“This is the best news I’ve heard in a very, very long time,” Schatz said. “The republic survived.”
The future of the Senate is still an open question, he said, and results of some of the down ballot races seem to indicate that at least some of the electorate want a divided government, which means legislators on both sides of the aisle will have to come together if they want to accomplish anything in the coming years.
“All I know is that we have a real opportunity to get things done,” Schatz said. He quickly added that at the same time it’s important to take pause and bask in the moment.
“Everybody deserves to pour a Bud Light on ice and then say cheers to the continuation of the American experiment.”
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono was flying from Hawaii to Washington when the race was called in Biden’s favor.
She said she was both ecstatic for Biden but also for Harris, who was a close colleague on the Senate Judiciary Committee. For the past four years, Hirono has been one of Trump’s most vocal critics on Capitol Hill.
She said she’s looking forward to having a president in the White House will be honest with the American people about some of the most consequential issues of our time, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said she’s also relieved about the prospect of Biden setting aside the divisive, partisan rhetoric that’s been trumpeted by the current administration.
“We have a very divided country and we need to work together,” Hirono said. “Joe Biden is going to be a president for all of us.”
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