At 78 years of age, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., Delaware’s favorite son, by way of Pennsylvania, is the United States’ 46th president. It represents the most profound realization of Joe Biden's lifelong dream to become president and a manifestation of his dedication to his country capping off five decades in public service by being the commander and chief of his country at last. To serve alongside him, Vice President Kamala Harris became the first woman and the first woman of color to ever be elected to national office, shattering numerous glass ceilings today for little girls not just in the United States but around the world. Everything about the inauguration of Joe Biden as president of the United States was designed to inspire hope and to hearken back to the promise of America, a multi-cultural, decent, hard-working nation that sought to be, and seeks to be once more, the guiding light of democracy the world over.
Joe Biden reminded us in his speech how close we were to losing everything that we hold sacred as a nation on January 6th when a MAGA supporting mob of domestic terrorists desecrated some of our Republic’s most hallowed ground. He reminded us that while we avoided total devastation that day, that we may never take for granted again our freedoms, our liberties, and our way of life here in America. We have to fight each and every day in order to achieve that more perfect union that is described so poetically and astutely by our nation's founders.
We narrowly avoided an American catastrophe that fateful day this January, and on January 20 every single word of Joe Biden speech was medicine to the soul. Every word spoke to the profound decency and humility of the man speaking them, even the most devoted fan of Biden's predecessor in the Oval Office would probably hesitate when asked if they thought of him as a profoundly decent man. To complement the soaring rhetoric that the country needed to hear, Biden’s speech was peppered with real talk signifying that the truth, and reality, have now once again entered our mainstream of conscience. From the words picked for the speech today, it's apparent that Biden is clear-eyed about the incredible convergence of crises that he must tackle immediately.
One of the most overused and unfortunately accurately used words over the last four years has been the word unprecedented. So naturally, I racked my mind to think about seminal moments in American history to bring to mind a similar undertaking to what Joe Biden is walking into as President of the United States. One can land on Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or very capably argue for Abraham Lincoln but where I landed on was none other than our nation's first president, George Washington. Joe Biden was a man who was ready to retire following the crushing, devastating death of his son Beau, the second child he was forced to bury in his life and third member of his nuclear family. Biden cites his predecessor’s comments regarding White supremacists marching in Charlottesville – and refusing to condemn them, saying that there were fine people on both sides of the march that day, meaning both the promoters and counter protestors of fascism, racism, and anti-semitism and the perpetrators of those ideas – as the reason for running for president. Biden said that he was embarking to become the nation’s 46th president to win the battle of the “soul of the nation.”
Joe Biden was called on to save his country and its standing in the world after a devastating last four years. Washington, for his part, was called upon to go into unchartered waters to create precedents for the greatest democratic experiment the world has ever known when all he wanted to do was go back to his farm estate Mount Vernon and retire after freeing his countrymen and countrywomen from the yoke of British imperialism. So too, Joe Biden, despite his desire his whole life to be president and serve his country from the highest office in the land, was likely leaning towards retirement after a public life book-ended by tragedy. He decided to throw his hat into the race and was the last one standing. American decency, leadership, and character were on the ballot in November and the America we know we are and aspire to be won out and produced the Biden era. The genius of American democracy stems from the ability, more often than not, to give us precisely the leader we need in times of maximum national crisis. Whether one voted for Joe Biden or not, we wish him and his administration well because their success is our nation’s success.