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Opinion: After bitterly divided election, what's next for America

November 9, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

After nearly five breathless days of vote-counting, the American people—and the world—got the news Saturday: Joe Biden would be the next president of the United States. So, where-to now, nation? CNN Opinion asked 26 commentators to consider the question: What does the outcome of this election say about America in 2020?

(CNN)After nearly five breathless days of vote-counting, the American people -- and the world -- got the news Saturday: Joe Biden would be the next president of the United States.

CNN Opinion asked 25 commentators to consider the question: What does the outcome of this election say about America in 2020?

I used to think I disagreed with Joe Biden on most everything, but I voted for him.

I need Joe to love all the Trump supporters.

Half the country voted for Trump.

Yes, Joe Biden will be the 46th president, but the fact that nearly half of the Americans who voted chose Trump is telling.

Over 70 million people still voted for -- or didn't care enough to vote against -- Trump's cruelty.

This election, the American people once again called the question of basic decency, and they found it utterly wanting in Trump, who from day one debased his office with his lies, pettiness, ignorance and incompetence.

Decency was on the ballot in the form of Joe Biden, and through his election, we have regained our deepest sense of it.

In the wake of former Vice President Joe Biden's tight victory in the presidential race, it will be tempting to look at the razor thin margins across the map and declare the nation a house irretrievably divided.

Better still, and despite strenuous efforts to pigeonhole Americans into their hyphenated identity groups, Blacks, Latinos and many other non-White voters walked into their voting booths (or post offices) with diverse ideas about the best man to lead the nation. . . and voted for Republicans in unprecedented numbers.

But more than 65% of eligible Americans believed in the power of their vote, and our democracy.

My soul has been clenched and now, with the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, my heart is lifted, and I can exhale.

This is still the United States of America that elected the 45th president to begin with, still the nation that only decided in 2020 that Black lives might matter, still the nation too-long governed by GOP minority rule, thanks to the Electoral College, gerrymandering, voter suppression and an open-armed embrace of misinformation and White supremacy.

Watching Vice President-Elect Harris and President Elect-Biden give their victory speeches, I know they are ready to heal and move forward too.

Yes, we are a country divided, but what this election says about America is that even when you feel like you're screaming into a black hole, your voice can be heard.

Since Donald Trump eked out an Electoral College victory in 2016, he has proudly displayed a US map that highlights in red the counties he won despite losing the national popular vote to Hillary Clinton by more than 3 million.

A President who never had the support of a majority of Americans pretended to represent most of the country.

In Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, Republican-led legislatures fought hard to help Trump maintain this appearance of legitimacy on Election Night by delaying the counting of overwhelmingly Democratic mail-in ballots.

In a democracy, elections are decided by the people.

But 40 years after Republicans strategists began using what they called "positive polarization" to pit some Americans against their neighbors in battle ground states, Trump's extremism has revealed a larger and more diverse electorate that has the power to re-shape priorities in American public life.

More than 80 million Americans voted to repudiate Trumpism, and fusion coalitions led by poor and low-income voters in North Carolina and Georgia demonstrated their power to make races competitive that Republicans could until recently count on winning without a fight.

My America is full of people who are needed.

But then I see that half Indian, half Black woman standing on that stage in her white suit, meeting America as its Vice President-elect-- and I can't help but keep my eyes trained on that blue sky.

The result of this year's election, though, will almost certainly continue to degrade their faith in institutions — along with the rest of Americans.

A Democratic president hamstrung by a Republican Senate will face a hard limit on the kind of structural reforms the country desperately needs, from voting rights to court reform.

And other much-needed policies hugely popular with the American people, from immigration to green energy to gun safety, will almost certainly be blocked by the Senate if it stays Republican.

Most Americans want a functioning government that passes policies they like — they just don't believe that will actually happen.

Nicole Hemmer is an associate research scholar at Columbia University with the Obama Presidency Oral History Project and the author of "Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics. " She co-hosts the history podcast "Past Present" and "This Day in Esoteric Political History. "

Joe Biden's victory is America turning back from the brink.

Americans want their government to represent them, and for America to rejoin the world and to stand for the values of its founding.

If his presidency is a success, American democracy will never again be on the ballot.

This year it looks like America will have to reckon with that reality, instead of pretending exceptionalism is equality.

In 2020, decency was on the ballot, and more Americans voted to defend it than have voted for any candidate in history.

In a year when hundreds of thousands of Americans have perished to a global pandemic, and millions more fear for their livelihoods, we have elected a President whose empathy and capacity to sit with suffering rank among his chief hallmarks.

President Donald Trump got more votes this year than he did in 2016.

I truly believe that what binds us together as Americans is stronger than what divides us, and that, together, we can make the myth of what America can be a reality.

The persisting nightmare is that, ignoring the culture of corruption in Trump's White House, his callousness and serial mendacity, over seventy million estranged fellow Americans almost reelected him, a man whose own niece, psychologist Mary Trump, calls a "sociopath. " And one who embodies a lingering malignancy in America's DNA.

America was, and is, the nation that elected George W.

People like to see America as an Obama or Trump or Biden nation because it allows them to feel proud when their side is in power and appalled when it is not; to imagine that others with whom they disagree are a solvable problem, just one blue or red "wave" away from disappearing for good.

In reality, America is an Obama, Romney, Clinton, Trump, Biden nation all at once, which no particular result will change.

Oren Cass is the executive director of American Compass, a conservative economic policy group, and author of "The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America. "

President Trump lost his gamble that he could reject more than half of the country, upend every civilizing norm of the presidency, divert public goods to his person gain, undermine the professional ethos of the US government and, finally, deny the moral and public health implications of a pandemic and still win re-election.

Had Trump won, the American presidency would have changed for at least a generation.

Had enough Americans across enough states rewarded Trump with a second term, Washington would have become irremediably, and for years to come, the corrupt swamp Trump assailed when he first took office.

It won't be easy -- at least 70 million people endorsed with their vote the President's mishandling of the virus and many will be sympathetic to continuing efforts by Trump to sow doubt about the legitimacy of a Biden presidency.

Joe Biden's first challenge will be to begin the work of persuading some of these 70 million-plus Americans that for the sake of their country, let alone of their own families, they must accept that their real enemy is the virus --not the Biden/Harris coalition.

President-elect Biden won all the traditional Democratic states and the Democratic-leaning battlegrounds.

President Trump won the traditional Republican states and the Republican-leaning ones.

The only surprises, which did not decide the election, were Biden's strength in Georgia and Arizona, where Democratic Senate candidates also did well.

Like nearly every Democratic presidential candidate since 1992, Biden won more votes nationwide.

Biden won an overwhelming Democratic majority in a deeply divided country with a Democratic majority distributed over a small number of states, and urban regions within still rural states.

Following Trump's surprising victory in 2016, a litany of studies convincingly showed that support for Trump was strongly driven by racism, sexism and xenophobia among large swaths of the American public.

His emphasis on restoring decency to the Oval Office was designed to make the election a referendum on Trump's prejudice-peddling politics.

Whether President-elect Biden can do anything during the next four years to defuse these tensions is very much an open question.

The outcome of this election—a slow and steady count of votes that led to Joe Biden being declared the winner-- says that America in 2020 is still a country that abides by its constitution.

If this election was the most consequential in the history of America, as some say, then I say that if we accept the election results peacefully, we will have passed a test.

It is through this lens that, despite President Donald Trump's contesting the outcome, I see hope in the 2020 US election.

As one of the three million DREAMers who can't vote but whose life and future hung on the results of this election, I want to say a special thank you to all the Americans who empathized with our struggle, voted on our behalf and elected Joe Biden.

Many hoped that the outcome would be a moment of reckoning: a blue wave Biden victory to end a "nightmare," or a Trump win—in effect and endorsement of a pattern of disruption.

That Republican voters, so many of whom live in a disinformation echo chamber of right-wing Fox and radio talk show hosts and Q Anon conspiracy theories, should faithfully vote for someone like Trump comes as no surprise.

That these forces, represented by a major political party, were defeated by a majority of American voters is perhaps one of the most important lessons of this election.

Kamala Harris' election as the first woman, as well as first African American and Indian American woman, to the Vice Presidency is particularly historic and bodes well for the future of American democracy.

Trump won the state with a comfortable lead of over 370,000 votes .

I'm not saying that all 750,000 of those people would have voted at all or that they would have voted for Joe Biden, but I'd take my chances.

Until this country decides that more people with more access to voting is better than less people with less access, then as far as I'm concerned whether or not America is a democracy will remain an open question.

The most votes in our nation's history-- let's celebrate!

And while we've got this team spirit, let's focus on the work we still have to do, so in the future every eligible American can vote.

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