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Joe Biden & Kamala Harris Are TIME’s 2020 Person Of The Year

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BY CHARLOTTE ALTER
To get past the stage-door entrance of the Queen theater, you need a negative COVID-19 test and a particular type of N95 mask. You have to promise not to eat or drink inside, and answer a questionnaire about your recent whereabouts, and then comes the Secret Service protocol (the sweep, the wands). Once you’re in, the floors normally sticky with spilled drinks are instead dotted with distance-marking tape for reasons that are obvious: this is where President-elect Joe Biden is basing his transition, and President-elect Biden takes COVID-19 very, very seriously.“They told me we were gonna lose the campaign because of all this, remember?” Biden says in a Dec. 7 interview, gesturing at the precautions from a brown leather chair in a room above the stage. But “the good news,” Biden smiles, is he and his team “didn’t listen to anybody.” Like all such venues these days, the historic Wilmington, Del., playhouse is silent and empty. Instead of concerts, its fading green-and-red murals look down on a new production that’s opened out of town: a semicircle of blue-draped tables surrounding a lectern before a screen projecting the seal of the President-elect of the United States. Upstairs, Biden keeps a 16-ft. distance from everyone as he makes final preparations to take on the role of a lifetime.

As Biden sees it, trusting his instincts and tuning out the naysayers is a big reason why he’s going to be the next Commander in Chief. They said he was too old, too unsteady, too boring. That his pledge to restore the “soul of the nation” felt like antiquated hokum at a moment when Hurricane Trump was tearing through America, ripping through institutions, chewing up norms and spitting them out. “I got widely criticized,” Biden recalls, for “saying that we had to not greet Trump with a clenched fist but with more of an open hand. That we weren’t going to respond to hate with hate.” To him, it wasn’t about fighting Trump with righteous vengeance, or probing any deeper rot that might have contributed to his ascent. Biden believed most voters simply wanted reconciliation after four years of combat, that they craved decency, dignity, experience and competence. “What I got most criticized for was, I said we had to unite America,” he says. “I never came off that message.”

Biden had the vision, set the tone and topped the ticket. But he also recognized what he could not offer on his own, what a 78-year-old white man could never provide: generational change, a fresh perspective, and an embodiment of America’s diversity. For that, he needed Kamala Harris: California Senator, former district attorney and state attorney general, a biracial child of immigrants whose charisma and tough questioning of Trump Administration officials electrified millions of Democrats. The Vice President has never before been a woman, or Black, or Asian American. “I will be the first, but I will not be the last,” Harris says in a separate interview. “That’s about legacy, that’s about creating a pathway, that’s about leaving the door more open than it was when you walked in.”

The Democratic ticket was an unlikely partnership: forged in conflict and fused over Zoom, divided by generation, race and gender. They come from different coasts, different ideologies, different Americas. But they also have much in common, says Biden: working-class backgrounds, blended families, shared values. “We could have been raised by the same mother,” he says. In an age of tribalism, the union aims to demonstrate that differences don’t have to be divides.

 

Read More at TIME

 

Tags : joe bidenKamala Harris
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