Joe Biden Inaugurated as 46th President of the United States


Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.

Biden is sworn in as the 46th U.S. President by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Sarah Sweeney, Co-News Editor

After weeks of chaos and challenges following the results of the 2020 presidential election, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was officially inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States this afternoon.

The U.S. Capitol Building, which served as the location of the inauguration, was a drastically different scene than on January 6th, when a mob of pro-Trump rioters invaded. In an attempt to increase security and limit the spread of the coronavirus, only invited guests were allowed to attend and were expected to wear masks and follow social distancing protocols. Not among those in attendance was former President Donald J. Trump, who declined to partake in the outgoing president’s customary role in ensuring a peaceful transfer of power.

President Biden reportedly described Trump’s decision not to attend as “one of the few things we have ever agreed on.”

Representative Amy Klobuchar delivered the inauguration’s opening remarks, highlighting the importance of democracy – a point that Biden would later emphasize during his Inaugural Address.

“This ceremony is the culmination of 244 years of democracy,” Klobuchar said. “It is the moment whenleaders brought to this stage by the will of the people promise to be faithful to our Constitution,to cherish it and defend it.”

Vice President Kamala Harris was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor, the firstHispanic and Latina member of the court. Harris made history by simultaneously becoming thefirst female, first Black, and first Asian American Vice President of the United States.

Biden was then sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts, vowing to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States,” with one hand placed on a 127-year-old family Bible.

As he did throughout his presidential campaign, Biden used his Inaugural Address to highlight his belief in the collective power of Americans to overcome challenges through democracy and unity.

“This is America’s day,” Biden began, “this is democracy’s day, a day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve through a crucible for the ages. Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause, the cause of democracy. The people, the will of the people has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded.”

In an America facing a deadly worldwide pandemic, increased anger over systemic racism, a climate change crisis, and the rise of white nationalist domestic terrorism, Biden takes office at arguably one of the most challenging times in the history of the United States.

Biden acknowledged this challenge and spoke to each matter individually, conveying his recognition of their importance and indicating that his administration will take action to address them.

“Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed. A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer,” he declared. “A cry of survival comes from the planet itself, a cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear. And now a rise of political extremism white supremacy and domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.”

However, Biden made it clear that if America is going to overcome these problems, it is going to require the work of the American citizens. “To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America, requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: Unity. Unity” he said.

Choosing to inspire hope and optimism during these difficult times, Biden declared that “with unity we can do great things, important things. We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus. We can reward work and rebuild the middle class and make healthcare secure for all. We can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world.”

Clearly inspired by the Augustinan value of Unitas, it’s fitting that Biden also quoted St. Augustine in his address, explaining that Augustine defined a people as “a multitude defined by the common objects of their love.”

“What are the common objects we as Americans love? That define us as Americans?” he posed rhetorically. “I think we know. Opportunity. Security. Liberty. Dignity. Respect. Honor. And, yes, the truth.”

Following Biden’s inaugural address, Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old National Youth Poet Laureate, recited an inspiring poem that really hammered home the Inauguration’s recurring theme of unity and hope. “There is always light. Only if we are brave enough to see it. There is always light. Only if we are brave enough to be it.”