‘The people have spoken’: Delegates looking forward to working with Biden
Four days after Election Day, former Vice President Joe Biden was declared the projected winner of the 46th presidency of the United States, defeating President Donald Trump in a contentious race that was closer than many polls had projected.
“With over 80 percent of the Navajo Nation voting for Biden/Harris, that indicates clearly that our Nation has full confidence in the president-elect and vice president-elect,” said Delegate Paul Begay. “We look forward to better communication between the Navajo Nation and the White House to address concerns and issues that exist within our homeland of the Four Corner states,” he said.
The Pennsylvania call by the Associated Press for Joe Biden Saturday morning tipped the scales in his favor, upping his electoral votes to 284. Either candidate needed 270 to win the White House. With the AP call for Nevada to Biden on Sunday, his electoral votes jumped to 290, leaving Trump trailing behind with 214 electoral votes.
As of Wednesday, Biden also led with a wide margin in the popular vote with 76,997,481 votes (50.8%) over Trump with 71,926,263 (47.5%). “Joe Biden won the election decisively, with more votes than have ever been cast in American history,” said Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
President Jonathan Nez said, “the people have spoken,” and change is coming to America. “Now that the hard-fought campaign and election have passed, we have to come together, heal, and unite to move tribal nations and the country forward on a positive path,” said Nez. “The First Americans of this country, including a large majority of Navajo voters, had a major impact in the outcome of the presidential election in several swing states – that needs to be recognized and acknowledged by all,” he said.
However, as of yet, Trump has not conceded the race. In fact, he has falsely claimed that he won the presidency and is alleging voter fraud and improprieties with mail-in ballots and the vote count, although no evidence to support that has been provided.
The Trump campaign has launched lawsuits in several states contesting the legitimacy of the election.
Delegate Eugenia Charles-Newton said through their actions the people demonstrated that new leadership is needed during this uncertain time. “I look forward to working with the Biden administration to meet the needs of the Navajo people,” she said. “I am excited to address the lack of public safety and justice, housing, water infrastructure, and telecommunications (just to name a few). Yéego Biden!”
Revelers across the country celebrated the Biden-Harris victory through the weekend and Biden and Harris gave rousing speeches on Saturday night that focused on unity, inclusion, and healing the nation. “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify,” said Biden, “who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States.”
Biden said it is time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, and listen to each other again. “And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies,” said Biden. “They are not our enemies. They are Americans.”
Harris, who will make history as the first woman and daughter of non-White immigrants to serve as vice president, said Americans chose hope and truth in electing Joe Biden as the next president. She paid tribute to her late mother, who arrived in the U.S. from India at 19. “She believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible, and so I am thinking about her and about the generations of women – Black women, Asian, White, Latina, Native American women – who throughout our nation’s history, have paved the way for this moment tonight,” said Harris. “Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all.”
‘Well on our way’
Delegate Charlaine Tso said that in working with past administrations, the Navajo Nation has been seeking partnership and collaboration in strengthening tribal self-governance. “Now, I am optimistic, especially when the President-elect Joseph Biden stated that he will be a president for all Americans,” said Tso. “We openly invite the Biden/Harris administration to visit our capital.”
Biden and Harris have already begun working with their appointed transition team and have formed a coronavirus task force to start planning a response to the biggest crisis facing the nation. Biden said Trump’s efforts to undermine the results of the election have not hampered his team’s ability to move forward. “We are well on our way,” he said.
Navajo Nation Speaker Seth Damon said the election of Biden and Harris will build upon the way the Navajo Nation communicates with its federal counterparts and he looks forward to seeing who is appointed to key positions within their administration. “Washington is familiar with our legislative priorities and we know wide bipartisan support continues to build for the Navajo Nation’s initiatives,” said Damon. “Even before the counts are certified, the Navajo people have provided a clear direction for its leaders to work with the new administration and the Democratic Party.”
In doing so, Damon said the Nation will continue to address issues including the missing and murdered Diné relatives crisis, public safety funding, caring for veterans and the “massive overhaul” of infrastructure on the Navajo Nation.
Delegate Wilson Stewart said he believes the election of Biden and Harris will benefit the Navajo Nation. “They said that Navajo will always have a seat at the table, and I assume that will go for all American tribes, that we will be welcomed into the government forum,” said Wilson. “I am glad with the vote and the turnout they got, and to be a part of this election, seeing the numbers and the cry from the people that they want change, they need change, and they want to be united again,” he said.
While some states are still wrapping up vote counting, and the states of Georgia, projected to go to Biden, and North Carolina, projected to go to Trump, have yet to be called by the AP, those results will not change the outcome of the race.
States will be certifying the election results in the coming weeks and the newly elected president will take the reins on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2021. On Tuesday, Biden suggested Trump’s efforts to delegitimize the election results and failure to concede will just tarnish his remaining time in office. “I just think it’s an embarrassment, quite frankly,” said Biden. “I think it will not help the president’s legacy.”