Joseph “Joe” R. Biden Jr. has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States a few minutes before noon on Wednesday.
In keeping with tradition, President Biden took his oath of office at the US Capitol. In front of him was a small, socially distanced crowd, to keep up with COVID-19 protocols. Additionally, this historical event took place in a city on lockdown amid threats of armed insurrection following the violent riot that took place in the same area.
President Biden Calls for Unity
There, Biden made his address, calling for unity among his countrymen. He asked for Americans to end the “uncivil war” that has become a burden to the nation. According to the new president, it is the only “path forward.”
In his address, the president said: “I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days, I know the forces that divide are deep and they are real. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh ugly reality of racism, nativism, fear, demonization.”
He then added that “This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge — and unity is the path forward.”
A while later, he said, “The answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don’t look like you or worship the way you do, or don’t get their news from the same sources you do.”
He then continued by saying: “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 — if we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes.
During his address, Biden promised swift action in laying out plans to fight the pandemic. He also vowed to address the state of the economy, the climate changed, as well as racial justice and political extremism.
Plan of Action
Biden vowed to move quickly to address the pandemic, the subsequent economic collapse, racial justice, climate change, and political extremism.
He also renounced the group of people that stormed the Capitol just two weeks prior. He also vowed to be president for all Americans, not just for those who voted for him.
“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,” he said in his speech. Biden also said, “We can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again a leading force for good in the world.”
According to tradition, the chief justice, John Roberts, administered the president’s oath of office. Biden took the oath with his hand on top of a family bible held by his wife, Jill.
A few minutes before this, Kamala Harris took her oath as the first female, African American, and South Asian American vice president in the United States. She was administered the oath by Justice Sonya Sotomayor, the first Latina in the Supreme Court.
A Limited Ceremony
Those who attended the inauguration ceremony included former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. They were accompanied by their spouses. Former Vice President Mike Pence was also in attendance, as were most members of Congress and of the Supreme Court.
Republican Senators expressed their thoughts on social media.
On Twitter, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said, “Biden takes the oath. May God bless the United States of America.”
Biden takes the oath.
May God bless the United States of America. 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/bgv8ncHcHn
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 20, 2021
Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) stated, “May God bless @JoeBiden with health, strength & wisdom as he leads our nation at this moment of great & unprecedented challenges.”
May God bless @JoeBiden with health, strength & wisdom as he leads our nation at this moment of great & unprecedented challenges.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 20, 2021
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis) expressed well wishes, too, saying, “I wish President Biden well and encourage him to follow through on his pledge to be a president for all Americans and act to unify our divided nation.”
I wish President Biden well and encourage him to follow through on his pledge to be a president for all Americans and act to unify our divided nation.
— Senator Ron Johnson (@SenRonJohnson) January 20, 2021
Former President Donald Trump was not in attendance, making him the first to skip his successor’s inauguration ceremony since 1869. He left the White House earlier that morning, telling the press that becoming president was an honor and that his administration had made a lot of accomplishments.
The former president, along with his wife, Melania, took part in an exit ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Prior to boarding Air Force One to head to his property in Florida, he said, “We will be back in some form. We were not a regular administration.”
Trump didn’t attend the inauguration ceremony. However, he did follow a custom of leaving a letter for Biden at the White House.
Around 1,000 people attended the ceremony for President Biden, due to the threat of the coronavirus and of armed insurrections. Security precautions have been ramped up after the incident at the Capitol two weeks ago. More than 25,000 National Guard troops roamed around and numerous streets were closed.