Joe Biden has become the 46th President of the United States. Shortly before noon EST on Jan. 20, Biden was sworn in and delivered an impressive inaugural speech that not only marked a profound contrast to Donald Trump’s tone in recent years but contained one central message: unity.
‘Democracy Has Prevailed’
Biden said that there could be no peace without unity and no progress in his inaugural address, only bitterness and anger. He pledged to work with all his heart for unity and reconciliation.
“With unity, we can do great things, important things,” said Biden. “This is our moment in history. And unity is the way forward.” American had overcome past challenges with unity.
“I will be a president to all Americans,” Biden promised, including for those who did not vote for him – extending his arms to Trump voters. “This is the day of democracy.” It is not a candidate’s victory that was celebrated, but the victory of democracy. “Democracy has prevailed.”
Remembering the Victims of COVID-19
Biden also remembered the people who had lost their lives in the coronavirus pandemic. He denounced the inequality between the ethnic groups and called on his fellow citizens to rethink: “Let’s make a fresh start, everyone together.”
Even though the president did not mention his predecessor by name, it was apparent that Biden was focused on a fundamental departure from the past four years’ political spirit and about a paradigm shift, a return to normalcy.
Biden also spoke out against the spread of false reports and conspiracy theories, which had caused the country tremendous problems: “We have to reject the culture in which facts are manipulated and even fabricated,” he said. America must be better than that.
And he also promised America’s partners a fresh start – “we will go into the world again”, he said and announced that the USA would be a “strong partner for security and peace.”
An Unprecedented Inauguration
Biden’s inauguration at the Capitol took place under unprecedented security precautions. Two weeks ago, violent supporters of Donald Trump stormed the building. The fear of further violence was, therefore, significant. The center of Washington was cordoned off on a large scale. In addition to numerous police officers, thousands of the National Guard members were deployed. Instead of hundreds of thousands of spectators, around 200,000 small US flags represented the people in and around the National Mall. But despite appearances by Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, the presence of 25,000 National Guardsmen in the capital always reminded one of the carnage the country had recently faced.
Biden takes over the most powerful office in the world in an unprecedented time of crisis. With more than 400,000 coronavirus-related deaths, the US is the country with the highest number of victims worldwide and is in a devastating economic crisis.
In regular times, Biden’s day would have ended with attending numerous inaugural balls in Washington. Today, Biden has already announced a whole series of decisions for the first day intended to mark a break with Trump’s politics – for example, on the fight against the coronavirus, racism, and climate policy. Biden knows he has to hurry, as the pressure is on from day one.
Fortunately for him, Democrats now possess majorities in the Senate and the House. Most of Biden’s plans are thus fairly conceivable to realize. However, part of Biden’s presidency will emphasize bipartisan efforts to tackle the crises ahead. His attendance of a church service in Washington with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders, including powerful Republican Senator Mitch McConnell prior to his inaugural on Wednesday morning, was a first powerful sign in this direction.
“It’s a new day in America,” wrote Biden on Twitter.
Whether unity amongst the parties is temporary or achievable remains to be seen – and the upcoming Trump impeachment trial in the Senate will be the first litmus test.