"There is a new man in charge."
You have to hand it to the Americans. They really know how to transfer power and exercise what probably is the most elegant rite of democracy—the peaceful installation of a new president and commander-in-chief who also is the leader of the free world and the most powerful man in America and in the world—thanks to America’s dominant currency, unrivaled technology, and awesome nuclear arsenal and military hardware.
At noon of Jan. 20, 2020, the White House came back to Americans and America to the world.
The pomp and circumstance and the panoply of power on display on that day amply showed us that the United States remains the greatest nation on earth. That it was ruled with such single-minded tumult and tyranny by a jerk for four years does not at all diminish that greatness. In fact, the four years of the forgettable and unlamented Donald Trump presidency are proof of the strength and resilience of US-style democracy.
On Nov. 3, 2020, President Joseph R. Biden trounced Trump with 7 million more votes, 81.2 million vs. 74.2 million.
On Wednesday (Jan. 2)), Biden recited an inaugural address from the heart, but with such monotonous cadence and consistently robust delivery the audience probably missed some points he was trying to emphasize and its soaring passages. But the oldest American president’s message is clear:
“Through a crucible for the ages, America has been tested anew and America has risen to the challenge. Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy. The will of the people has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded. We have learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile.”
“And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”
“So now, on this hallowed ground where just days ago violence sought to shake this Capitol’s very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries.”
“We will press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and possibility. Much to repair. Much to restore. Much to heal. Much to build. And much to gain. Few periods in our nation’s history have been more challenging or difficult than the one we’re in now.
“A once-in-a-century virus silently stalks the country. It’s taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed.
“A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.”
The new President said, “my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together. Uniting our people. And uniting our nation. I ask every American to join me in this cause. Uniting to fight the common foes we face: Anger, resentment, hatred. Extremism, lawlessness, violence. Disease, joblessness, hopelessness.” Biden mentioned “America/American” at least 37x, and “unity” 9x.
But the speech was not all about America and his Americans. Biden gave this assurance to the world at large:
“The world is watching today.
”So here is my message to those beyond our borders: America has been tested and we have come out stronger for it.
“We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again.
“Not to meet yesterday's challenges, but today's and tomorrow's.
“We will lead not merely by the example of our power but by the power of our example.
“We will be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress, and security.
“We have been through so much in this nation.
To me, the most stirring moment of the inauguration was not Biden’s actual oath-taking, nor his walk towards the White House.
It was when the huge doors of the White House opened and the Marine Band played “Hail to the Chief.” President Biden embraced and kissed his First Lady three times and then entered the world’s greatest hall of power.
There is a new man in charge of America-- and of the world.