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From Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on down, Americans gave every election winner a mandate

Our mandate is to be civil and decent, run a clean, functioning government, contain COVID, heal the planet and rebuild our economy and world standing.

Originally Published in USA Today

By Rep. Chrissy Houlahan 

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have made history. Together, they assembled the largest and most diverse coalition in American electoral history — 76 million Americans and counting, diverse in race, gender, sexuality, religion, geography and yes, political persuasion. 

On Saturday, we watched as Harris, the first woman of color to be elected vice president, addressed the nation and shattered a glass ceiling that had stayed intact far beyond its due. 

We watched as Biden, a good and kind man, said: “I ran as a proud Democrat. I will now be an American president. I will work as hard for those who didn't vote for me — as those who did.”

I don’t know about you, but that felt appropriate, refreshing and gratifying to me.

A great deal has been written these past few days about the “divisions” in the Democratic Party. I won’t spin — of course there are disagreements on how to best serve the American people. Thoughtful people disagree, and our big tent party is no exception.

But we literally just had an election in which every faction of the Democratic Party, and even many Republicans, came together and helped Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take the White House.

We had progressives and moderates, cities and suburbs, young voters and older ones, all get behind this ticket. We had young organizers, many of color, who were out in Philadelphia working every day. We had suburban moms right here in my community who helped get out the vote. This historic win will set the tone for the next four years — everyone deserves a seat at the table, especially those who have too often been denied one.

And yes, we have a mandate. And it’s not just Joe Biden and Kamala Harris who carry that responsibility. Each of us who has the privilege to serve our communities, regardless of party, has a mandate. From the White House to Capitol Hill, from state legislatures to county commissioners, we have been called on by Americans to be civil and decent; to build a clean government that isn’t hindered by partisan gridlock; to contain this deadly virus; to heal the sickened planet; and to build back our economy and our standing in the world. 

After these past four years, the country is yearning for an American government that works. And each of us owes it to our communities to do everything we can to deliver solutions that enhance their lives. 

We don’t know exactly what January will bring. There are still races to be decided, as well as two January runoffs in Georgia that will determine which party controls the Senate. 

But here is what’s not up for debate: A majority of Americans were united in their desire to end the divisiveness that has governed this country for the past four years. 

And we, the people privileged enough to be elected to serve, owe them that.