Part of what Makes America Great
Again is the diversity of opinions – sometimes in total and jarring discord.
While this author found President Biden’s inauguration speech full of hope, promise, resolve and a call for unity, Heather Mc Donald at City Journal has a totally different perspective.
She calls Biden’s words. “Words of Division. Cloaked in an appeal to unity, President Biden’s inaugural speech hit all the expected themes of racial resentment and blame.”
Read it HERE.
It is certainly an understatement to call the events of today – the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris — momentous, historical, moving and, above all, full of hope and promise. Our new President himself described it best, “This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day of history and hope. Of renewal and resolve.”
In an email, our editor, Joe Gandelman, graciously asked his contributors to offer “thoughts, reactions, or forward looking takes on the inauguration…”
I know several of our contributors will write some great, thoughtful, interesting pieces on the inauguration, on Biden’s speech and on what to expect in the days and months ahead. I look forward to reading them.
I was so awed by and heartened by all the President’s words that it is difficult for me to select just a few specific paragraphs that stand out, let alone provide an incisive analysis of and commentary of his speech.
Others have done just that and done it well.
Take Glenn Thrush at the New York Times who has just “annotated” Biden’s speech in an exhaustive, extensive and excellent manner – almost paragraph by paragraph.
Thrush starts as follows:
From his opening words, President Biden made clear this would be a sober summons to service largely stripped of the rhetorical filigree often associated with inaugural addresses. He recognized the profound damage inflicted by the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol and defined his assumption of power as “democracy’s day” — to contrast his approach with President Donald J. Trump’s view of the office as an extension of his personal power.
One can read the complete and fully annotated speech HERE.
Here are some of the words that struck me most:
On democracy and its endurance:
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 here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, and to drive us from this sacred ground. That did not happen. It will never happen. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.
On unity and what keeps us from achieving it:
To overcome these challenges [A once-in-a-century virus; A cry for racial justice] — to restore the soul and to secure the future of America — requires more than words. It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity. Unity.
Today, on this January day, 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.
We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors.
We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature.
Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war.
On racial justice and equality:
A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.
A cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear, and now arise political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.
Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear and demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial. Victory is never assured.
Today, we mark the swearing-in of the first woman in American history elected to national office — Vice President Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me things can’t change.
On the truth:
…we must reject a culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.
Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson. There is truth and there are lies. Lies told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and 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 to defeat the lies.
Before God and all of you I give you my word. I will always level with you.
On disagreement, dissent and “a president to all”:
To all those who supported our campaign I am humbled by the faith you have placed in us. To all those who did not support us, let me say this: Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart.
And 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 our 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. I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.
We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts. If we show a little tolerance and humility.
We have never, ever, ever failed in America when we have acted together. And so today, at this time and in this place, let us start afresh. All of us. Let us listen to one another. Hear one another. See one another. Show respect to one another.
On the pandemic:
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.
We will need all our strength to persevere through this dark winter. We are entering what may well be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus. We must set aside the politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation.
On foreign relations:
America has been tested, and we’ve come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again…we’ll lead, not merely by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.
We’ll be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress and security.
On the challenges facing our nation:
We face an attack on our democracy and on truth. A raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis. Any one is enough to challenge us in ways. The fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we’ve had. Now we’re going to be tested.
Finally, on how we are going to tackle these challenges:
…with purpose and resolve we turn to the tasks of our time. Sustained by faith. Driven by conviction. And, devoted to one another and to this country we love with all our hearts.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.