The historic 2020 election resulted in a Democratic win at the top of the ticket. But with Donald Trump and the GOP refusing to concede the presidency to Joe Biden, more difficult days lie ahead.
For Democrats, Biden’s win was a convincing one, given his advantage of more than 5 million votes in the popular vote. On the other hand, Trump expanded his share of the Jewish vote by about 5 percent on his way to more than 71 million votes nationwide, and the predicted Democratic advantage in the Senate fell short.
For Republicans, the likely retention of the Senate will be a tremendous boost, although early January runoff elections to decide Georgia’s two seats will determine the final composition of the upper chamber. The party also whittled away at the Democratic majority in the House, gaining a net six seats as of press time.
The fact that 150 million Americans voted during the worst public health crisis in a century is evidence that our democracy remains intact. Jewish Americans have always counted on that democracy to provide the shelter we need to thrive. All those worries about voter intimidation, Election Day violence and other shenanigans turned out to be unfounded, and for that the nation should feel relief and gratitude.
But make no mistake: The current effort to deny the results of the election, to allege fraud without a shred of evidence, to seek to undo results and thus potentially disenfranchise hundred of thousands of voters, is cynical and stupid at best, and deeply malign and antidemocratic at worst.
Biden won, and he will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021, as the 46th president of the United States. But the poisonous rhetoric that the election was somehow stolen from Trump is already having a frightfully corrosive effect. This week, a white supremacist in New York, echoing Trump’s claims of a false election, was arrested for threatening to kill Democrats, protesters, federal law enforcement officials and “the Jew Senator from Jew York,” presumably referring to Sen. Chuck Schumer. As our story in this issue asks, will there be more attacks to come?
Even short of actual violence, this effort to delegitimize the election takes an ax to democracy, and when American democracy is weakened, the safety and security of Jews — and other minorities — are likewise weakened.
Furthermore, the deep divide among U.S. citizens (as seen in the election results) and the harsh rhetoric of the campaigns demonstrate the critical need to restore bipartisanship in our politics and society. As Rabbi David Saperstein, longtime leader of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, explained in a post-election virtual talk, key policy achievements supported by most American Jews — from environmental protection to civil rights — came about because of what he called “bipartisan decency” on Capitol Hill.
As we confront the dangerous refusal of our current president to bow to electoral reality, let us remember that our nation is strong because our democracy works. That includes Democrats and Republicans finding a modicum of common ground.
We congratulate Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their win. And we urge the Republican party to come back to the table, quickly.