Leading the country out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Supporting essential workers. Addressing racial inequalities. Tackling the climate crisis. Creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented residents.
These are some of the priorities Filipino American supporters are pushing under President-elect Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office. The former vice president’s win comes as the United States hit over 10.1 million positive COVID-19 infections and the grim toll of 238,863 deaths and counting.
For Lillie Madali of Atlanta, Georgia who helped mobilize Fil-Am voters in her region, Saturday’s results “meant hope for the future.”
“For the many nurses in my family, risking their lives, working on the front lines against the coronavirus pandemic, the victory meant that we would soon have competent leadership and that help is on the way,” Madali told the Asian Journal. “In the first 100 days, the Biden administration will face a stalled economy, a raging pandemic, and a climate crisis to name a few. The top issue I would like the administration to address is correcting our response to the pandemic to prevent more unnecessary deaths.”
Melissa Ramoso, a Southern California community leader who was a co-chair of the national Fil-Ams for Biden-Harris affinity group, said these focus areas provide an opportunity for Filipino Americans to weigh in and help influence policies.
“Filipino Americans are always ready to be called upon to be part of a future that works for all communities, not just well-connected individuals,” she told the Asian Journal.
Biden, along with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, has hit the ground running this week by launching a transition website with four priorities: COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity and climate change.
They have assembled their own coronavirus task force — led by former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and David Kessler, a former head of the Food and Drug Administration — which virtually met on Monday, November 9.
“It doesn’t matter who you voted for, where you stood before Election Day,” Biden said during the meeting. “It doesn’t matter your party, your point of view. We can save tens of thousands of lives if everyone would just wear a mask for the next few months.”
Outpouring of joy
Following five days of waiting and refreshing for new updates, Americans — and those watching worldwide — on Saturday morning, November 7 were greeted with the news that Biden and Harris captured the necessary 270 electoral votes to ascend to the White House.
For the Fil-Ams across the country who spent the past nine months raising money, phone and text banking targeting fellow Fil-Am voters, and getting the message out amid a pandemic, the results, especially in battleground states, made them feel that their vote truly counted and that they did their part in the fight to restore “the soul of America.”
“Our unprecedented engagement was the majority of the victory in battleground states. Hope is alive. This is a new beginning and we are part of it,” said Gloria Caoile, a community leader and senior advisor for Fil-Ams for Biden Harris in Las Vegas, told the Asian Journal.
Capturing over 74 million votes, Biden surpassed President Barack Obama’s record and received more votes than any presidential candidate in U.S. history.
As of this writing, Biden has 290 electoral votes in his favor, versus President Donald Trump’s 214. Meanwhile, 34 votes are still at play, according to the Associated Press.
“Philadelphia and Pennsylvania brought home the win as part of the Blue Wall. As a community, we championed a leader who will make sure we get out of this pandemic, bring back our economy and we are again respected in the world,” Brad Baldia, eastern region co-chair for Fil-Ams for Biden-Harris, told the Asian Journal.
With the victory, Harris became the first woman and first Black and South Asian person elected vice president of the country.
“As a woman of color and a Californian, I could not be more proud to have Kamala Harris as the first Asian and African American female vice president. Filipino Americans will see for the very first time when President-Elect Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union speech as the president who received the most votes ever in America history, behind him will be two Californian women: Vice President Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi,” Ramoso said.
While President Donald Trump has not conceded — and as electoral challenges are underway and his supporters continue to protest nationwide — the collective joy and hope for an incoming leadership change poured onto the streets.
The spontaneous celebrations erupted across the country, among them: in Washington, D.C., thousands marched along Black Lives Matter Plaza and near the White House bearing homemade signs; masses gathered in New York’s Time Square bursting out into song; and in West Hollywood, California, individuals waved Biden-Harris and pride flags and banged pots as car horns blared.
That night, Biden and Harris addressed the nation with victory speeches at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, with the former pledging to be a commander-in-chief “who seeks not to divide but not unify.”
“It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again,” Biden said, referencing those who may not have voted for him.
Though the presidential race may be over, Fil-Ams are placing their energy onto the Jan. 5 runoff in Georgia that will determine which party will have control over the U.S. Senate.
“As for individuals themselves, newcomers to campaigns asked our seasoned campaign warriors the same question of “What’s next?” We answered, we go on to the next fight and bring our kababayans with us. We are looking to make an impact in Georgia’s US Senate races in the immediate future,” Ramoso said.
Madali added, “It is my hope that on the issues of healthcare, immigration, and education, that they will find that the candidates that best serve their interests are Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.”