EDITORIAL: No mandate: Close election results give both parties cause to reflect

It appears that we have a new president. After four seemingly interminable days of close counts, shifting leads and lawsuits, enough votes have been counted to declare Joe Biden the winner of the presidential race.

We congratulate the presumptive president-elect, and all other congressional, state and local candidates who were voted into office in the Nov. 3 election. The White House race actually isn’t official until the state’s electors — the Electoral College — convenes in December and formally presents each state’s official votes. Moreover, President Trump still hadn’t conceded; he has filed challenges to the vote counts in several states where the results were close, or where the majority turned late in the tabulation process. The number of votes and the number of states that would have to flip to the president’s advantage, however, makes such a result virtually prohibitive. However, he is entitled to make those challenges and they must be given full consideration.

Most importantly, we congratulate America’s voters who came out in record numbers, despite the fears many had about going to the polls during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Pew Research Center, some 159 million votes were cast, reflecting about 66.4% of eligible voters. While that still is lower than many other countries, U.S. voter turnout traditionally is just over 50% during presidential elections, and much lower in other votes.

One thing does appears certain: neither party can declare a mandate from the voters. Congress will be split between the two parties, with Democrats controlling the House and Republicans in charge of the Senate, and neither holding a significant advantage in either.

One of the most significant — and for many, surprising — trends of this election, a trend that also was evident in 2016: Democrats are losing minority voters.

The exodus of minority votes from Democratic ranks shouldn’t be a surprise. Every demographic group is just as politically diverse as any other, and it seems that minorities feel less beholden to the Democratic Party, having grown frustrated that the party usually campaigns on the same promises and doesn’t deliver on them. Many seemed offended by Biden’s cavalier remark in May that “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

Biden and presumptive Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris have proven to be political centrists, many first- and second-generation Americans might be wary of many key party members who are advocating an idea of “democratic socialism.” No matter how different the idea might be from the socialism applied in other countries, many immigrants and their children find the word unpalatable, a reminder of the horrible regimes that killed millions, destroyed national economies and drove so many of them to risk their lives, and of their children, in escaping to this country.

Policy makers on both sides need to review this election to determine what the voters are truly saying. They tossed an incumbent Republican out of the White House, but the close vote doesn’t reflect the outright repudiation that many people expected.

Both sides should be chastened by these results.