On January 20, 2021, at 12:00 p.m. EST, former Vice President Joe Biden was officially inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States, and he wasted no time in rebuking the darkness and division that has plagued Washington these past four years in his inaugural address.
“Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its path,” Biden said. “Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. We must reject the culture where facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured. My fellow Americans, we have to be different than this. America has to be better than this.”
Biden also didn’t avoid discussing the storming of the U.S. Capitol that took place only two weeks ago, blaming this bitterness on the media’s spread of misinformation throughout the Trump administration.
“Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson,” he said. “There is truth and there are lies, lies told for power and for profit. Each of us has a duty and a responsibility as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth and defeat the lies.”
To extend the olive branch to “the other side,” Biden took the time to speak to the 75 million Americans who didn’t vote for him, reassuring them that he would not forget them over the next four years.
“Hear me out as we move forward,” he said. “Take a measure of me and my heart. If you still disagree, so be it. That’s democracy. That’s America. The right to dissent peaceably within the guardrails of our republic is perhaps this nation’s greatest strength. Yet, hear me clearly. Disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you, I will be a president for all Americans. And I promise you, I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.”
Likewise, Biden made his intentions clear on ending “this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” noting that “unity is [our] path forward.”
“We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts,” he said.
Biden was also cognizant of the chaos of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, setting aside a moment during his address for a silent prayer to honor the 400,000 Americans who have died from the disease thus far. He warned that there was still work to be done with containing the outbreak.
“We need all our strength to persevere through this dark winter,” he said. “We’re entering what may be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus.”
Aside from coronavirus, Biden also elaborated on the additional ailments plaguing this nation, which he intends to address as soon as he’s seated in the Oval Office.
“A raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis, America’s role in the world – any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways, but the fact is, we face them all at once, presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we’ve had,” he said.
Regardless, he remained hopeful of his ability to put the country back on a path towards peace, progress and prosperity.
“I give you my word, I will always level with you,” Biden said. “I will defend the Constitution. I’ll defend our democracy. I’ll defend America.”