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OPINION

Biden ran a great campaign. He'll restore integrity and competence in a post-Trump era.

Don't underestimate Biden. Even if he doesn't get a Democratic Senate, he'll rebuild the government and vanquish the wreckage of this awful presidency.

Dick Meyer
Opinion contributor

President-elect Joe Biden, hero, has vanquished the poison-spewing dragon Donald Trump from our imperiled land. He did so with dignity, honesty, substance, optimism and good manners. We owe this most long-serving of public servants an extraordinary debt of gratitude and appreciation.

The election, tragically, did not deliver a hammer blow of repudiation to Trumpism and its Republican appeasers and collaborators. Biden did not have coattails; he barely had a jacket.

But that is not Biden’s fault; it is the fault of the country that is America today. One healer can only do so much in a society as fractured and infected as ours, crippled by a pandemic and unemployment, freshly wounded by the ancient legacy of racism, and disoriented by the constant bombardment of always-on media –— social and anti-social, information and misinformation, local and global.

Always underestimated, Joe Biden did his part. He received more votes than any president-elect in history.

Pummeled from all directions

In the primaries, Biden stayed steady and good-humored as he was doubted by every pundit and pummeled from every conceivable angle by every conceivable kind of candidate: Sen. Elizabeth Warren from the Left, Sen. Bernie Sanders from the Far Left, Marianne Williamson from Planet Love, Pete Buttigieg from grad school, Michael Bloomberg from his bank vaults, and so on.

As the campaign went on, Biden modified his platform as he learned from the electorate and reached out to his opponents. He backed free public college education for some, college loan forgiveness programs, lowering the Medicare eligibility age, Warren’s bankruptcy reform ideas and a slate of very specific criminal justice reforms.

This is a sign of maturity and undogmatic wisdom, not flip-floppery.

Joe Biden in Sumter, South Carolina, on Feb. 28, 2020.

When COVID hit, Biden was the perfect role model. He wore his mask, shunned mass events and kept his staff and supporters healthy. He quickly ditched the idea of trying to pull off a semi-normal in-person convention and he did so without whining or self-pity. He supported science, medicine, reason and kindness.

Biden made a bold statement with the selection of Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate after a discreet and dignified process .

At the dreaded moment when he had to step into debate ring and counter the guerilla (gorilla?) techniques of a liar, cheater and screamer, Biden held his composure. He acted like an actual human being, not a politician, and impressed a large national audience that wasn’t at all sure he could hack it.

Biden stayed true to his core mission

When the sitting president, whose children have disgraced the presidency, attacked his family, Biden — a man who has buried a wife and two children — turned the other cheek.

Most of all, Biden never wavered from what his gut told him was the central mission of his candidacy: restoring the soul of America.

Biden may not have a Democratic Senate to support him. 

So, the energy, volunteerism and brain power that went into electing Joe Biden now needs to pour into helping him rebuild the competence and integrity of the federal government and vanquish the remaining wreckage of this awful era of Trump.

Don’t underestimate what our next president can achieve.

Dick Meyer is the author of “Why We Hate Us: American Discontent in the New Millennium.” Follow him on Twitter: @DickMeyer_DC