Joe Biden took the oath of office for the president of the United States with the pomp of tradition, the circumstance of a divided nation, and a touch of enthusiasm. He then proceeded to speak to Americans tuned in on televisions, notebooks, and cell phones. Presidential inaugurations usually see 200,000 or more people invited – but Biden’s attendance didn’t break 2,000. Not surprisingly, as during his virtual campaign, Biden’s tone was serious, well-scripted, and repetitive.
What do Americans have to look forward to in the next four years? Mr. Biden glossed over various subjects, but he was laser-focused on a hopeful, united future. His running mate, Kamala Harris, did garner one line of the address from Biden when he spoke of the suffragette struggle for the right to vote: “don’t tell me things can’t change.”
“This Is America’s Day”
In inaugural speeches past, the incoming leader would lay out a plan of sorts – as an agent of change. Mr. Biden focused on America’s image worldwide, renewing diplomatic relationships, and attacking the invisible enemy that has contributed to the deaths of 400,000 Americans. Mid-speech, Mr. Biden asked the audience to take a moment and say a silent prayer for all people who have endured COVID-19. He delivered buffed and polished assurances that “This is democracy’s day, a day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve through a crucible for the ages.”
He thanked both parties’ predecessors and touched on racial equality, climate change, political extremism, and domestic terrorism. And as the speakers that came before, Biden repeatedly regurgitated the events at the capitol on January 6, hinting to the immediate past administration without drawing outright accusations.
United We Stand
As president, he promised to build-back-better the economy, America’s middle class, and state reputation. In his words, “America has been tested, but we are stronger for it. We will repair the relationships…” Knowing he faces 73 million angry voters, he reiterated “unity” and assured that he would be a president for all Americans, reminding citizens what has been overcome before:
“The battle is perennial, and victory is never assured. Through civil war, the Great Depression, world war, 9/11. Through struggle, sacrifice, and setbacks, our better angels have always prevailed. In each of these moments, enough of us, enough of us, have come together to carry all of us forward. And we can do that now. History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect.”
Biden then circled right back again, cautioning that democracy requires unity – and that unity is his main goal and requires “more than words.”
Where Are We Going?
It was a 22-minute sermon that spoke of an unyielding democracy in the wake of a turbulent year. Mr. Biden asked for those who didn’t support him to at least “hear me out. If you still disagree, so be it.” By quoting American Anthem, a song that has made the rounds in D.C. events and movie scores, Biden hammered home all that is expected of the American citizen and all he hoped to accomplish as well: “Let me know in my heart, when my days are through, America, America, I gave my best to you.”
Will unity be the legacy left behind by Biden? Wouldn’t that be nice?
Read more from Sarah Cowgill.