Read Editorial with D2G – Ep 503
American healing: On Joe Biden inauguration
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After one of the most contentious ( likely to cause argument ) elections and presidential transitions ( a change from one state or form to another ) in recent history, it was a relatively scaled-back inauguration ceremony that finally placed 46th President of the U.S. Joe Biden in the Oval Office.
The devastating ( that shocks or upsets somebody very much ) human and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with deep partisan ( showing too much support for one person, group or idea, especially without considering it carefully ) rancour ( hatred ; hate ) and the bitter aftertaste of the Capitol building attack earlier this month, meant that Inauguration Day was less a flamboyant ( tending to attract attention because of their exuberance, confidence, and stylishness ) extravaganza ( an elaborate and spectacular entertainment or production ) than a quiet celebration of multicultural America reasserting ( state a fact or belief confidently and forcefully again ) itself.
There could have been no greater symbol of that assertion ( a confident and forceful statement of fact or belief ) than the swearing-in of Kamala Harris, his running mate of Indian and African descent ( an act of moving downwards, dropping, or falling ), as Vice-President — the first woman ever to hold that position. Mr. Biden’s predecessor ( a person who held a job or office before the current holder ), Donald Trump, chose to not attend the event, making him only the fourth President to do so.
Nevertheless, bipartisan (involving the agreement or cooperation of two political parties that usually oppose each other’s policies ) goodwill ( friendly, helpful, or cooperative feelings or attitude ) was present on the dais before the Capitol building, as Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office to Mr. Biden, including former Vice-President Mike Pence, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and former President George W. Bush.
It was bipartisanship and societal ( relating to society or social relations ) healing that appeared to be the theme of Mr. Biden’s speech, as he vowed to unite all Americans to fight the foes ( an enemy or opponent ) they faced, of “Anger, resentment, hatred. Extremism, lawlessness, violence. Disease, joblessness, hopelessness”. To the world, he committed to lead “by the power of our example”.
It was a demonstration of not only power but political intent when, on his first day in office, Mr. Biden expediently ( defined as something done quickly or efficiently, or an answer or solution based on what is right or just ) reversed a range of Trump-era actions by issuing 17 executive orders and directives to cancel the U.S.’s exit from the Paris Climate Agreement and WHO, include non-citizens in the census count, protect immigrants under the Deferred ( to leave something until a later time ) Action for Childhood Arrivals programme from heightened risk of deportation ( send (someone) away from a country or place as an official punishment ), revoke the “Remain in Mexico” policy, halt construction of the infamous southern border wall and end the egregious ( outstandingly bad; shocking ) “Muslim ban”.
While these decisive actions may have felt like a balm ( ease ; comfort ) to Democrats, he would do well to remember, as he goes about dismantling the Trump legacy, that 74 million people voted for his opponent, and Mr. Trump has encouraged them to believe that the election was stolen.
If the Capitol building attack was an indication of the unhinged ( mentally unbalanced; deranged ) rage ( violent uncontrollable anger ) seething below the ostensibly ( as appears or is stated to be true, though not necessarily so; apparently ) peaceful transfer of power, it may not be long before the America of economically disenchanted white privilege again rears its head in a manner that today’s political victors find unsavoury ( disagreeable to taste, smell, or look at ).
The fact that the White House, Senate and House of Representatives are now firmly in the grip of Democrats should not be cause for giving up on bipartisan moderation. Or else Mr. Biden’s search for a more perfect Union may take longer.