The jubilation of the crowd gathered to hear Joe Biden's first speech as President-elect at Wilmington, Delaware showed what relief has swept over much of the United States with the presidential candidate's win.
Members of the drive-in audience wept, cheered, and honked horns. Biden said this would be a time for the divided nation to heal, and to stop seeing people of different political views as enemies.
The sentiment, tone and aspiration in Biden's speech were all right for the occasion and for what he called this "inflection point" in US history.
His words encouraging unity and decency carry a lot of weight. To have witnessed Donald Trump's presidency is to have learnt the extraordinary power of a president's words to influence and shape a nation for ill or good.
Unfortunately, it is also true that saying the US must heal will not make it so for Biden. A long and hard road awaits the President-elect, one that he and his Vice President-elect Kamala Harris laid out themselves on Saturday.
What a daunting task it is: control a raging coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 230,000 Americans; rebuild an economy ravaged by recession; make serious progress towards stopping racial injustice; address climate change; bridge America's gaping divisions; nurture democratic institutions after years of assault from Trump; restore respect and trust for the US among nations abroad; navigate a course through an increasingly unstable security environment.
Those are just a few, and there are many more. It's unrealistic to expect Biden to solve these challenges in four years. Much of his task initially will be simply to return the US to a climate of calmer, more respectful public debate. In that, he may find in Trump an obstacle willing to continue aggravating his loyal supporters from outside the political system. With more than 70 million votes, an unquenchable thirst for attention, and full of grievances about the election result, the outgoing President seems unlikely to disappear from public life.
The first challenges of all for Biden are Trump's refusal to concede defeat, his attempts to delegitimise the election result with lies, and the legal action trying to turn events back in the Republican President's way. As time passes these tactics all seem more and more feeble and pathetic. At some point, it will be Trump and his family alone among the Republican party who are fighting reality. The sooner that time comes, the better.
A lot depends, too, on the approach Republicans take in the Senate during the next four years. They may find themselves dancing to Trump's tune, and blocking the Biden administration at every turn. If they paid attention to the President-elect's mandate, however, they would recognise that Americans are exhausted with the bitter and seemingly irreparable partisanship that has hobbled government in the US for so long. Biden campaigned on a message of unity and pragmatism, and reached out to Republicans in his speech on Saturday.
It will be Americans, not just Democrats in Washington, D.C., who suffer if the GOP refuses to meet him halfway. Trump has failed the Republicans and lost them the White House after a single term. He may command loyalty from his base, but the party's Trump experiment has failed. Whatever the temptation to follow his political whims in the next four years, it's time for the Republican party to ignore Trump, and find a path forward that will make it a party capable of governing successfully for the US in the years ahead.
Biden's speech on Saturday was full of symbolism. He ran out on stage and wore a face mask. The message was that he would waste no time responding to the immediate challenges so neglected under Trump, starting with COVID-19.
As hopeful and optimistic the occasion was, it won't take long for the harsh realities of the US' problems to take the shine off Biden's victory.
The President-elect has to make good on his words and symbols. He will need all the help he can get from allies and opponents alike.