President Joe Biden called for unity as he was sworn into office as the 46th president of the United States outside the Capitol Wednesday afternoon.
“The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded. We’ve learned again that democracy is precious and democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed,” Biden said. “This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day in history and hope, of renewal and resolve.”
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are heading into office immediately faced with a series of problems — a global pandemic, a slumping economy and threats of political violence across the country. He directly acknowledged the 400,000 Americans who have lost their lives to the coronavirus pandemic.
The president made a direct appeal to unify the nation and cast aside partisan differences in his first address as the commander in chief.
“As we look ahead. And our uniquely American way restless mode optimistic and set our sights on a nation we know we can be, and we must be,” Biden said.
He promised to fight just as hard for the people who voted against him as for those who did.
“We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors, we can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces,” Biden said. “Stop the shouting and lower the temperature for that unity.”
Like others who spoke at the ceremony, the president said the attack on the Capitol could not break America’s democracy.
“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 to drive as from this sacred ground, it did not happen,” Biden said. “It will never happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever, not ever.”
The president acknowledged the difficult work that waits for his brand-new administration distributing a coronavirus vaccine, providing health care for the thousands who lost their jobs, and breaking a cycle of hardened partisan politics that has divided the nation.
“I asked every American to join me in this cause to fight the foes we face anger, resentment and hatred extremism lawlessness, violence, disease joblessness and hopelessness, with unity,” Biden said.
“We can do great things, important things. We can right wrongs. We can put people to work and good jobs we can teach our children in safe schools, we can overcome the deadly virus. We can reward work and rebuild the middle class and make healthcare secure for all, we can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again, a leading force for good in the world.”
Biden made history as the oldest president to be sworn in at 78. Harris’ inauguration was also historical, making her the first woman to be vice president, the first Black vice president and the first woman of South Asian descent to be vice president.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., was the first speaker at the inauguration. She spoke of the strength of America’s union throughout history and during the difficult times of today.
“We pledge today to never take our democracy for granted as we never take for granted its remarkable strength,” Klobuchar said.
She referenced the siege of the building as an awakening to Americans’ responsibilities.
“This is the day when our democracy picks itself up brushes off the dust and does what America, always does — goes forward as a nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” she said.
Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, also referenced the attack on the Capitol during his remarks and said it was a challenge that wasn’t strong enough to break America’s democracy.
“The assault on our capital at this very place just two weeks ago, reminds us that a government designed to balance and check itself is both fragile and resilient,” he said.
Blunt reminded America that the world is watching as the country continues its centuries-long tradition of peacefully transitioning power to a new administration, and America’s commitment to its ideals is a moment of unification.
“A new administration begins and brings with it a new beginning,” Blunt said. “And with that, our great national debate goes forward, and a determined democracy will continue to be essential in pursuit of a more perfect union and a better future for all Americans.”