It’s 1 p.m. on a Saturday, and Union Square Park is packed to the seams; the humble little park is more crowded and energetic than it had been in almost a year. Scores of people in the South Plaza are chanting, dancing, and holding up homemade signs and dioramas, while passing cars blast their horns nonstop. Meanwhile, in the North Plaza, a well-dressed gentleman joyously performs a karaoke rendition of “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang.
What inspired such revelry? The results of the 2020 Presidential Election.
On the morning of Nov. 7, the Associated Press (AP) called the state of Pennsylvania for the challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden (D). The victory brought his electoral vote total up to 273 – just enough to secure victory over President Donald Trump (R).
Manhattan resident Steven Guadalupe was among the first to hear the AP call the race. By his account, he had been glued to his television for the past week in anticipation of the results.
“I was up all night looking at it,” said Guadalupe. “I couldn’t get my eyes off the damn television. And when I heard it, man, I went apesh**. I’ve been waiting to get that son-of-a-gun out of here for years.”
Manhattan resident Beth Grossman didn’t hear about the result from the press, however. The eruption of festivities all across the City was what cued her in.
“I was with my husband; we were taking a walk in the West Village, and we heard people clapping and clanking,” recalled Grossman. “I saw a woman walking in front of me, who was on her phone. I said, ‘Did Biden win?’ She said, ‘Yes!'”
Grossman expressed delight in the results, saying she looks forward to having a president who values kindness over cruelty.
“I’m looking forward to having an adult running our country,” she said. “Someone who has compassion, who cares about everybody and not just himself.”
And Manhattan’s citizens were hardly alone in that regard. The borough’s lawmakers, many of whom adamantly supported Biden during the race, also took great pleasure in the results. Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill) said that he looks forward to collaborating with the Biden Administration on reinstating the Obama-era initiatives that Trump closed, such as retirement security for all, universal childcare, and net neutrality.
“I was elated to see Joe Biden become president-elect over the weekend,” said Kallos. “I am looking forward to having someone in the White House who is into policy and has a coherent agenda based on facts and data. My office is a ready, willing, and able partner of the White House. Beginning in 2021, New York City can focus on revamping and improving the bold Obama Administration initiatives that Trump shuttered.”
Assemblymember Richard Gottfried (D-Chelsea, Midtown) called the victory “historic”, noting the record levels of turnout and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) becoming the first woman to reach the office of Vice President.
“The Biden/Harris victory is great news & a huge relief!” Gottfried said in a tweet. “It’s an historic win for voters who broke record turnouts & for electing a female Vice President. There’s much to be done, but for now, let’s celebrate this victory today – so we can get to work for the people tomorrow!”
But while some expressed high expectations for the Biden Administration, others, like U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn), were happy to see a nationwide rejection of the bigotry, authoritarianism, division and spite that characterized the Trump Administration.
“Today, our faith in democracy is restored,” said Nadler. “We can look at government with hope and optimism for the future. Fear and cruelty no longer have to define how we see each other or are seen by others, and for that I am both relieved and forever grateful that the American people have spoken loud and clear for the world to hear.”
State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Chelsea, Midtown) expressed a similar sentiment, noting that Biden’s speech on Saturday night felt like a breath of fresh air.
“President-elect Biden’s speech was certainly a nice departure from the rhetoric of hate we’ve seen over the last four years,” said Hoylman. “It’s revelatory to hear a unifying message from the president again. Additionally, Biden was the first president-elect to thank the transgender community in their victory speech. That is truly a historic first, and just shows how with organizing and fighting we can change people’s hearts and minds. That in turn inspires me to double-down in all the work we need to do these next four years.”
But while Hoylman has high hopes for the Biden/Harris Administration, he’s skeptical of the Republicans’ willingness to cooperate with them. He expressed hope that Biden would show the resolve necessary to stand up to them.
“I am hopeful but cautious about the chances we will see cooperation of any kind from the other side of the aisle,” he said. “While Biden offers an olive branch and proudly announces he is the president of all America and not just blue states, we already see a concerted effort to delegitimize his presidency. It’s commendable to seek unity but we will need him to go in with resolve to use his own power forcefully.”