Presidential inaugurations are designed to be reassuring. They are proof that our system is strong and stable, and can transcend even the most vicious of political campaigns. They are national celebrations of our democracy, no matter who wins.
After four years of wrenching division, culminating in the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol spurred by President Donald Trump’s false claims about the election, has there ever been a better time to refocus on what unites us?
Incoming President Joe Biden pledges to be a healer, a fixer, a no-drama doer who will buckle down and get the coronavirus response and vaccination program on track, reconnect with the country’s historic allies, and take on huge challenges from crumbling infrastructure to climate change to entrenched inequality. He is an institutionalist, at a time when our nation’s institutions desperately need shoring up. He has assembled a diverse team of veteran government officials who won’t face a learning curve.
He will surely try to keep promises to the more ideological wing of his party, as any incoming president would, but the reality of a closely divided Congress will pull him toward the center. We urge members of the Louisiana delegation, especially those who cynically perpetuated the fiction that he was not the legitimate winner of the election, to meet him there.
Even before Wednesday’s swearing in, a change in tone was already underway.
Biden has known grievous personal loss, and on the eve of the inauguration, he set out to properly memorialize the 400,000 Americans who’ve died during the coronavirus pandemic. It was an overdue acknowledgment from the top of COVID-19’s immense toll, and also a signal that the new administration will confront the deadly virus head-on, with sufficient resources and without conflicting signals from the government’s medical experts and its political leadership.
Biden has vowed to be a president for all Americans, including those, like the majority in our state, who voted for Trump. We welcome that and are ready to support him when we agree, and criticize in good faith when we disagree.
Some of his policies will be unsettling around here, including his promised pivot from fossil fuels to clean energy, but the change also presents an opportunity to create jobs in the new energy economy. We’re encouraged that, with former U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond of New Orleans heading to the White House as a senior adviser and head of the administration’s office of public engagement, someone from Louisiana will have the president’s ear.
And so we congratulate Biden and new Vice President Kamala Harris, and wish them well as they take office during this fraught time.
We’ll close with an old sentiment but a good one: If they succeed, so will our state, and our country.