Former Vice President Joe Biden wants you to trust in the process—even though the process is driving you slowly insane.
“We don’t have a final declaration of victory yet,” Biden said in Wilmington, Delaware on Friday evening. But, Biden continued, “the numbers tell us a clear and convincing story: we’re going to win this race.
Biden’s address, delivered in the parking lot of Wilmington’s Chase Center, sought to lower the temperature of a feverish nation. It was a laudable if difficult goal, particularly in comparison to the actions of rival President Donald Trump, who in the days after the election has unilaterally declared himself the victor of a presidential contest he appears on the verge of losing.
“Be calm. Be patient. Let the process work out as we count all the votes,” Biden urged. “Democracy works. Your vote will be counted. I don’t care how hard people try to stop it—I will not let it happen. People will be heard.”
Despite the near-universal consensus that Biden will be the next president—a protest-slash-street celebration of his impending victory in nearby Philadelphia has entered its 28th hour, complete with costume changes—the Democratic nominee on Friday followed a similar script to his remarks the day after the election, in which he said that while he did not intend to declare victory, he was confident that he would be the victor.
Biden’s message was fashioned as an antidote to the onslaught of Trump’s increasingly desperate lies about the election, centered around the message that despite the president’s hysterics, the the belabored process of counting mail-in ballots in a half-dozen swing states is legitimate—just incredibly slow.
But even the man once described by President Barack Obama as “America’s happy warrior” has his limits.
“I know watching these vote tallies on TV move very slow—and as slow as it goes, it can be numbing,” Biden said, as cable news channel logos burned into television screens nationwide. But the numbers on television screens, Biden continued, “represent votes and voters, men and women who exercised their fundamental right to have their voices heard.”
The Biden campaign first told reporters that the former vice president would deliver a primetime “address to the nation” around midday, shortly after the Pennsylvania vote count put him in the lead in the must-win state. But those plans, made in the heat of anticipation that Pennsylvania—and thus the election—would soon be called in Biden’s favor, languished as vote totals out of the Keystone State dribbled out over the course of the day.
Eventually, after relaying contradictory indications to various outlets of their plans for the address, the campaign told reporters that Biden would appear in Wilmington regardless of whether the race had been called in order to “stress his lead and how close he is to winning.”
But despite Biden’s signaling that it’s all over but the crying, the former vice president indicated that declaring himself president-elect—even with the math squarely on his side—would be indecorously presumptuous.
More important than a cut-and-dry victory, Biden said, is for cooler heads to prevail in the meantime—and that means no more calls for “total war” from the president’s family.
“We have to remember, the purpose of our politics isn’t total, unending, unrelenting warfare,” Biden said. “It’s time for us to come together as a nation to heal. It’s not gonna be easy, but we’ve got to try… We don’t have any more time to waste on partisan warfare.”
“I’ve said many many times, I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of our nation,” Biden said, concluding his speech by telling Americans that he hopes to speak to them again tomorrow. “We just need to remember who we are.”