The new president calls for bipartisan cooperation to fight the pandemic, economic crisis, racial inequality, and climate change
WASHINGTON – Facing the monumental challenges that other executive branch heads have faced every few generations, President Joe Biden has vowed to unite a country that he says is going through a “trying time.”
In doing so, he drew a clear line between what he considers “discord” and “disunity.”
“We are facing an attack on our democracy, on truth, a raging virus, growing inequality, searing systemic racism, the climate crisis, an attack on America’s role in the world,” he said.
Any one of these problems would have been enough to throw the U.S. a serious pick, he said, but the new president inherited them all at once.
Still, in his first address to the country as president, Biden focused on the deep and acute political divisions that have made effective action by the federal government impossible.
“To overcome these difficulties, to restore the soul and protect America’s future, words alone are not enough,” Biden said. – It takes the most elusive thing in democracy – unity.”
Seemingly acknowledging that fully uniting the American people is nearly impossible, he nevertheless pointed out that in previous difficult times in the nation’s history, there have always been “enough people” among Americans to lead the country forward.
“We can do it now,” he said.
Like most incoming presidents, Biden promised to work for the good of all Americans, not just those who supported him in the election.
In doing so, he made a personal plea to those who opposed him.
“Listen to me as we move forward. Appreciate me and my heart,” he said. – If you still don’t agree, well, so be it. This is democracy. This is America. In the right to peaceful dissent within our republic, perhaps, lies the greatest strength of our country. Nevertheless, I want to be heard clearly: disagreement should not lead to division.”
According to Aaron Call of the University of Michigan, Biden’s inaugural speech lacked “a crowning phrase that would be truly memorable.”
That said, Call added: “The future success of his legislative agenda will determine how history will remember this speech in this tumultuous and unique moment in time.”
In his remarks, Biden paid tribute to the three former presidents in attendance: Democrats Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Jimmy Carter, who could not make it to Washington.
He did not mention his predecessor, Donald Trump, who chose not to attend the inauguration and never recognized the legitimacy of Biden’s victory.
Nevertheless, Biden made clear in his speech that he wanted to offer the country a break from Trump’s presidency.
“Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire that destroys everything in its path,” he said. – Any disagreement should not be an excuse for all-out war.”
Returning to the underlying theme, he said, “without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness, and rage, no progress, only debilitating resentment, no country, only a state of chaos.”