The Task Before America Just Got A Little Easier
The Biden Presidency doesn’t mean we can go back to normal, but it does mean we can breathe for a moment
The inauguration of Joe Biden was simultaneously a representation of normalcy and, a reminder of the unprecedented situation America finds itself in. On the one hand, you had a Republican Senator — Roy Blunt — deliver remarks so conventional that they’d make you forget that the Republican Party, at large, spent the last three months trying to overturn the results of the election and, you had the President himself promise “unity” and “opportunity” in a refreshingly cookie-cutter speech that was a far cry from the American carnage remarks given four years ago to that day by then-President Trump.
You didn’t have to look much closer however, to see that what happened on Wednesday was anything but ordinary; the inauguration attendees each sat mask-clad, six feet from one another and after every speech the podium had to be wiped down with disinfectant. Zoom out further and the dystopian reality of modern-day America became yet more apparent; where crowds of thousands were supposed to be standing there were only flags and, on the periphery were members of the national guard standing stoically after spending most of this month stationed in Washington in order to prevent a violent coup. Meanwhile, just as telling as what you could see, was what you couldn’t: in a break with decades of tradition, the outgoing President was no where to be seen at the inauguration. Instead of attempting to aide the peaceful transfer of power, the disgraced leader retreated to the comforts of his Mar-A-Lago resort.
It’s nice not to wake up to a barrage of increasingly unhinged tweets from the Commander-In-Chief
In short, you hardly had to scratch below the surface to see that America was still teetering on the edge, in a state of prolonged and pronounced crisis; one American was continuing to die every 30 seconds from COVID-19, faith in democracy still lay in tatters and, the forces that made movements like ‘Black Lives Matter’, ‘March For Our Lives’ and ‘Fight for 15’ necessary were still very much present in American society. In his first day in office, Biden begun to take many steps in the right direction; he signed executive orders to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, repeal the Muslim Ban and institute a federal mask mandate. Yet, so many of the problems plaguing America — lack of access to health care, police brutality, economic inequality, etc — will require greater, prolonged and often, more difficult to achieve, action.
Yet, it was hard to watch Wednesday’s inauguration and not feel a shred of optimism; what was once standard now felt refreshing. It was nice to have a press briefing that didn’t devolve into a fight over the size of a crowd, it was refreshing to have a President who didn’t get into a shouting match with reporters; repeatedly shouting “fake news” at them and, it was nice not to wake up to a barrage of increasingly unhinged tweets from the Commander-In-Chief. America’s problems are far from being over and we certainly can’t just go back to brunch and assume everything will be alright, but for the first time in four years, it feels like the adults are back in charge and because of that, things finally feel like they’re moving in the right direction.
More on the Inauguration:
Celebrating America: Nine best bits from Joe Biden's star-studded inauguration special
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Photos From an Inauguration Day Like No Other
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