Living in Society

Inauguration Day 2021

Inaugural pin.

It is a new day in America as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take their oaths of office and install a new administration this afternoon.

They have a long list of items to accomplish today. The rest of this week, and the whole term, is expected to be a non-stop effort to reverse four years of degradation to our country and its standing in the world. As Biden said during the campaign, he wants to build back better than we were. It is a daunting task. Things have changed since the Obama-Biden administration, although, not enough to lose hope. The official schedule calls for the 46th president to sign executive orders and take other presidential actions beginning at 5:15 p.m.

“Our tradition of a peaceful transition of power, established in 1800, has been broken,” wrote historian Heather Cox Richardson in her Letters from an American. It is hard to dispute.

Security in the U.S. Capitol is unprecedented for the inauguration of a president. Thousands of National Guard soldiers occupy the center of our government. As journalist Laura Rozen put it, “Troops, have arrived in Washington, D.C., after an attempted coup by pro-Trump extremists.” Citizens and friends are discouraged from attending the inauguration in person.

It’s not like our government has been working for anyone but the richest Americans. The economy is in shambles and the coronavirus pandemic rages with more than 400,000 dead of the virus. The Federal Government executed more than three times as many people in the last six months than it had in the previous six decades. Trump’s support for Saudi Arabia in its war in Yemen resulted in a humanitarian crisis. In almost every aspect of life, things we cherished have been violated.

A majority of Europeans believe America’s political system is broken and Joe Biden will be unable to halt his country’s decline on the world stage, according to a recent survey. China is rising and many expect them to eclipse American’s post World War II role as preeminent world leader. Foreign policy, like almost every aspect of governance, was not a strong suit of the Trump administration.

I pay attention to the inaugurations of our presidents. I listened to every inaugural address since Truman, 13 presidents in my lifetime. With an open mind I’ll find Biden’s live stream and listen to his speech. Much as I’d like Biden to be brief, I have followed him for a long time and don’t expect brevity, brilliance, or much that has not been vetted on the campaign trail. Surprise me, though.

Like any new political beginning, our transport vehicle carries a lot of baggage. With Biden and Harris’s experience, one hopes they brought along what we will need to improve our lives. Fingers crossed.