We witnessed an historic transition of power with the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the 46th President and first woman Vice President of the United States. With Washington DC largely under lockdown two weeks after the violent insurrection at the capitol and amid a deadly pandemic, the inauguration looked like no other in history.
Congressional reporter Sarah Wire joined us on LA Times Today with more on the start of this new administration and president Biden’s call for unity.
One of the main topics of President Biden’s speech after being sworn in was unity. “President Biden emphasized that democracy is fragile and democracy is precious. He portrayed his inauguration as democracy succeeding — that the role of the people had succeeded and that there was a peaceful transition of power,” said Wire.
President Biden also spoke about trust and the truth. “It’s amazing considering the last four years that we’ve reached a point in the country where people struggle to trust truth and facts. For him to speak directly to that in his inaugural speech really stood out to a lot of people. He even got applause from members of congress on both sides of the aisle,” added Wire.
Some of the other topics President Biden mentioned were the coronavirus pandemic, the economic crisis, racial and political division, and climate change. Questions are being raised as to how the administration will handle these issues. “You know, we’re only a few hours after the inauguration today, so we’re still in the honeymoon period. There’s lots of joking and back-slapping on Capitol Hill. So we’ll see what it actually turns into. The president has made a big opening statement that he wants to pass a major immigration bill, and there might be some ways to move forward on that. The same thing with infrastructure and climate change, he planted a flag on the sand today,” said Wire.
During the ceremony, the performances included a variety of artists like Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Garth Brooks, and Amanda Gorman. “In some ways, it very much seemed like the Biden Administration sent the message that this is who America really is, where a lot of people come from different perspectives, and it is represented of what we all see on a daily basis. Garth Brooks is not a democrat, but he was happy to perform when asked by his president. The same with the young poet Amanda Gorman — jaws were dropping everywhere as she spoke,” added Wire.
Wednesday’s inaugurations went smoothly despite violent threats. “It was so amazing when I spoke to members of congress. People on both sides of the aisle stressed that they felt like after January 6, it was so important for them to be there to put on that public face. Whether they approved of the president or whether they liked him, they were going to bare witness to a transition of power, and that democracy was moving forward,” said Wire.