Four years ago tomorrow, Americans confronted a stark new reality: a hapless television personality would spend the next four years as the Leader of the Free World. Today, as Joe Biden is declared the president-elect, a historic wrong has been made right.
The former vice president amassed 273 Electoral College votes after winning Pennsylvania's 20 electors, according to NBC News, surpassing the 270 needed to win the White House and defeat President Donald Trump. Biden's victory capped one of the longest and most tumultuous campaigns in modern history, in which he maintained an aggressive focus on Trump's widely criticized handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Republican incumbent, true to form, has not yet conceded the 2020 race. In fact, the outgoing president traveled to one of his golf courses -- of course he did -- and had his aides issue a statement insisting the contest is "far from over."
The world outside of Team Trump, however, is moving on without him -- including world leaders who are eagerly congratulating the president-elect, indifferent to Trump's insistence that his fight will continue.
I'm mindful of the many relevant details and ongoing circumstances. It's probably safe to say, for example, that the outgoing president will not make the transition easy or be overly eager to help prepare the incoming Democratic administration. It's also likely that Republicans will maintain a majority in the Senate -- working alongside a smaller Democratic House majority -- limiting Biden's legislative options over the next couple of years.
But none of this detracts from just how extraordinary, and historically significant, today is for the nation and its future. The American electorate confronted a leader with a unique set of malignant qualities -- corrupt, incompetent, dishonest, ignorant, desperate to divide -- and chose to fire him.
That the race was closer than expected, and more competitive than it should have been, doesn't change the fact that most American voters saw Donald Trump's failures and decided that they must not continue.
History tells us that incumbent presidents, especially those inclined to abuse the powers of his office and use the levers of power to give them every possible electoral advantage, are not easy to defeat. Among elected presidents since World War II, only two have lost their re-election bids, and Trump is now the third.
What's more, it was hardly a foregone conclusion that Biden would be the candidate to replace him. Earlier this year, the former vice president finished fourth in the Iowa caucuses, before a distant fifth-place finish in New Hampshire soon after. The Delaware Democrat looked easy to dismiss at the time, and the odds of him winning his party's nomination, much less the presidency, were poor.
And yet, here we are. Biden stuck to a straightforward message, focused on the basics, reminded voters of who he is and what he's done, and will soon be sworn in as the nation's 46th president.
It's also worth appreciating that the president-elect's victory was impressive in ways Democrats would've celebrated before Election Day. Though some key states have not yet been called, Biden may very well end up with more than 300 electoral votes, a popular-vote margin of several million votes, and the most votes of any candidate in the history of the United States.
Depending on some of the final tallies, it's also likely that Biden may end up with a higher percentage of the popular vote than a presidential challenger since FDR.
His to-do list is long and arduous. Biden will take office in the midst of a deadly pandemic, with a struggling economy, a bitterly divided electorate, a Senate majority that will oppose his every request, and a world that's soured on American leadership. It's a safe bet he'll also have an immediate predecessor carping on a daily basis, making every effort to undermine his presidency.
Biden is up to the task in ways Trump could never be. It's why the former won and the latter lost.