President Joe Biden, joined onstage by his family and Vice President Kamala Harris, addressed the nation at his presidential inauguration on Capitol Hill today, promising to restore unity following President Donald Trump’s one term in office.
“Today we celebrate the triumph, not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy,” Biden said in his opening remarks, following his official inauguration to be the 46th president of the United States.
Biden took the oath of office at noon, sworn in by the Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts following a short ceremony for Harris.
Though the event would typically draw a large audience, coronavirus precautions required a much smaller and socially-distanced audience than past inaugurations have seen. All participants wore protective facial coverings, and audience members were spaced out below the Capitol steps.
Biden’s inauguration comes two weeks after the January 6 attack on the Capitol by thousands attending a Trump rally earlier that day. Those engaged in the attack damaged the Capitol’s exterior and interior, invading the building as Congress was in session confirming the results of the November presidential election.
Divisions between the right and left have been increasing in the U.S. since the election of Trump. Over the past year as the nation endured a deadly pandemic, a rise in the Black Lives Matter movement, and as Americans have faced unemployment and economic strife, these rifts have widened. In his address, Biden promised to bridge these divides.
With former congressional colleagues and four past presidents looking on, Biden implored Americans to join him in the restoration of America saying “the forces that divide us are deep,” calling the country’s lack of unity “no nation, only a state of chaos.”
“Politics doesn’t have to be raging fire,” Biden said. In his promise to promote unity, Biden guarantees he will fight for those who did not support him in his campaign, as well as those that did.
Biden and Trump fought a close presidential race in November ending in Biden’s electoral win with 306 votes, while Trump finished with 232. Recounts in battleground states, legal actions by the Trump team and protests dominated the news over the last two months, culminating in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and Trump’s second impeachment.
In his speech, Biden referenced both Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr, acknowledging the historic nature of the day’s events — swearing in the first woman, and first woman of color vice president.
With this, Biden added a phrase of hope, “don’t tell me things can’t change.”
In addressing the nation’s battle against the coronavirus pandemic over the past year, Biden wants to motivate Americans to “finally face this pandemic as one nation.”
He asked for a moment of silent prayer for the American lives lost to covid-19, the death toll passing 400,000 as of this week.
Planning for the future, Biden aimed to create a more equitable society in the U.S.
“We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome a deadly virus.” He promised to think “not of power but possibilities,” with the public good at the center of his service to the nation.
Closing his speech, Biden took a moment to quote ‘American Anthem,’ a song of American patriotism, and looked toward the future of the country saying “Let us add our own work and prayers to the unfolding story of our great nation.”