When Joe Biden raises his hand to take the presidential oath on January 20, 2021, the country will enter a new era. I have never felt that a change of government in America is as important as it is now. I have never felt that the change of a president is like building a wall that separates the past from the present and the future. That it really constitutes a new beginning.
The Trump presidency is entering into the judgment of history. A few things, however, cannot be disputed by his enemies or his friends: the country has been tested as seldom in the past.
The Constitution has been stressed as seldom in the past. The presidential oath has been challenged as seldom in the past.
America’s very faith in herself has been tested, as was her history, traditions, values, and principles. Her leadership was challenged internationally, almost universally, by friends and enemies. Her democracy was injured.
And yet, she endured. She was wounded, but she endured. That is why I have rarely felt so optimistic about the future of the country.
The most important proof of this is the transfer of power.
America has been given a second chance. A second chance not to be missed. An opportunity to look deep inside herself. To offer its people understanding, care, and encouragement.
The burden of responsibility that Joe Biden bears is enormous. But it is not unendurable, as so many analysts claim or it may seem. The opposite is the case. He is lucky that he is taking over the presidency at a time of crisis for the country. History has never given a leader the title ‘great’ for governing during easy times, in eras of peace, tranquility, and quiet. ‘Great’ presidents are characterized as such when they act effectively in substantial crises.
Biden is faced with several of these crises that come with a common challenge: ethos of those in power. This is the foundation of presidential problem solving. Nothing can be achieved without ethos. This is what attracts capable associates who will help solve the serious problems Biden's administration will inherit. It’s what convinces the public to implement the decisions of the government.
Many argue that Trump "is not going anywhere." That he will maintain the loyalty of his followers. That he will continue to exert influence. That he will continue to command the attention of the country. I do not think so. His loss of power deprives him of his prestige and his glamour. He has lost his presidential megaphone and his ability to reward or to punish politicians. He will retain a small percentage of his followers.
But this will depend to a large extent on the path Biden takes and his ability to govern.
America has a second chance. Let's not let it go to waste.
Post Scriptum: I now quote the presidential oath of office: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."