Democrat Joe Biden was sworn in as president of the United States(US) on Wednesday, he vowed to end the ‘uncivil war’ in a country reeling from a battered economy and a raging coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has killed more than 400,000 Americans.
With his hand on a five-inch thick heirloom Bible that has been in his family for more than a century, Joe Biden took the oath of office administered by US Chief Justice John Roberts that binds the president to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” and end the uncivil war.
“Through a crucible for the ages, America has been tested anew, and America has risen to the challenge,” Biden said in his inaugural address. “Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause: the cause of democracy…At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”
Biden, 78, became the oldest US president in history. His inauguration was a scaled-back ceremony in Washington due both to the coronavirus and security concerns.
Trump refused to meet with Biden
Trump flouted one last convention on his way out of the White House when he refused to meet with Biden. He also refused to attend his successor’s inauguration. He broke a political tradition seen as affirming the peaceful transfer of power.
Trump never conceded the November 3 election. He did not mention Biden by name in his final remarks as president on Wednesday. He touted his administration’s record and promised to be back “in some form.” He boarded Air Force One for the last time and headed to his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida.
Top Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence and the party’s congressional leaders, attended Biden’s inauguration. Former US Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton were also there.
Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris is the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India. She became the first Black person, the first woman, and the first Asian American to serve as vice president. She was sworn in by US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s first Latina member.
Four compounding crises for Biden
Meanwhile, Biden takes office at a time of deep national unease. The country is facing four compounding crises: the pandemic, the economic downtown, climate change, and racial inequality. He has promised immediate action, including a raft of executive orders on his first day in office.
After a bitter campaign marked by Trump’s baseless allegations of election fraud, Biden struck a conciliatory tone. Moreover, he asked Americans who did not vote for him to give him a chance to be their president as well.
“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,” he said. “We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this – if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.”
The ceremony on Wednesday unfolded in front of a heavily fortified US Capitol. A mob of Trump supporters stormed the building two weeks ago.
The violence prompted the Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives to impeach Trump last week for an unprecedented second time.
Meanwhile, National Guard troops were called into the city after a siege, which left five dead. Instead of a throng of supporters, the National Mall on Wednesday was covered by nearly 200,000 flags and 56 pillars of light meant to represent people from US states and territories.
“Here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work on our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground,” Biden said. “It did not happen; it will never happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.”
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