President says he will work on behalf of all Americans
Joe Biden called for unity Wednesday after being sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.
“We have never, ever, ever, ever failed in America when we’ve acted together. And so today at this time in this place, let’s start afresh, all of us. Let’s begin to listen to one another again, hear one another, see one another, show respect to one another,” President Biden said during his inaugural address outside the Capitol and its historic dome.
“Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its path,” he said.
“We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” he said. “We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts, if we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes, as my mom would say. Just for a moment, stand in their shoes.”
The president delivered his remarks in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump, who later condemned the violence but was blamed by Democrats and some Republicans for inciting it. The House impeached the ex-president for an unprecedented second time, but it’s uncertain when a Senate trial will start.
President Biden was sworn-in by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on a day of heightened security with approximately 25,000 National Guard troops in Washington, D.C. and fences around the Capitol. The day turned out to be peaceful.
Before Mr. Trump’s term ended, he appeared Wednesday morning before a small group of supporters at Joint Base Andrews. From there, he and former first lady Melania Trump flew on Air Force One to Florida, where they will reside at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
On Wednesday, Mr. Trump became the fourth president in U.S. history not to attend his successor’s inauguration. The others were John Adams, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Johnson.
Three of the other surviving former presidents — George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — attended with their wives Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama. Jimmy Carter, the oldest surviving president at 96, did not attend, but he and Rosalynn Carter, 93, sent President Biden their “best wishes.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence attended the inauguration, which took place at the west side of the Capitol in a tradition started by President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
Normally the event happens before a packed National Mall. But this time,
about 200,000 flags stood in their place, representing the approximately 400,000 Americans who have died during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were masks and social distancing in front of the Capitol, but room was made for some pageantry. Lady Gaga sang the National Anthem.
Before President Biden was sworn in, Sonia Maria Sotomayor, the court’s first Latina justice, delivered the oath of office to Vice President Kamala Harris, the first female vice president and the first black vice president. She is also the first vice president with Asian heritage.
The new vice president used the Bible of Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993), the first black Supreme Court justice.
“Don’t tell me things can’t change!” President Biden said, referring to the history made by Vice President Harris. During his inaugural address, the president also referred to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial, a pinnacle moment in the civil rights movement.
President Biden’s main theme was a call for a unity.
“We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation,” he said.
He noted there are days when people need a hand and other days when they are called to lend a hand.
The president also said he stood humbled in front of those who supported his election and asked opponents to hear him as the country steps forward. He voiced support for Americans’ right to disagree with him and dissent peacefully.
“And I pledge this to you: I will be a president for all Americans,” Mr. Biden said. “And I promise you I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as those who did.”
On his first day in office, President Biden signed a series of executive orders on immigration, preserving and fortifying the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, stopping construction on the U.S.-Mexico border wall and ending the ban on travel from Chad, Iran, Somalia, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.
And on her first day, Vice President Harris sworn-in three Democrats — newly elected U.S. senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, both representing Georgia, and Alex Padilla, who is succeeding her as the junior senator from California.
In Santa Barbara, the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to preclude major rallies in support of President Biden and Vice President Harris. But several hours after the inauguration, a few motorists drove around De la Guerra Plaza and honked their horns. “Biden-Harris” was written in shaving cream on one windshield.
There was also some patriotism associated with the peaceful transfer of power in a democracy. On Tuesday night, a residence at Sea Gull and Daytona drives in Goleta was lighted in red, white and blue, complete with the American flag.
And a Santa Barbara Democrat — U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal — and his wife, Gina, attended Wednesday’s inauguration at the Capitol.
Rep. Carbajal said he appreciated President Biden’s call for unity to improve the lives of all Americans.
During a video released by his office, Rep. Carbajal said he is looking forward to the policy agenda and bold actions planned by President Biden and Vice President Harris: “To address climate change, to make sure that we get beyond this pandemic — so that our public health is protected — and open up our economy sooner rather than later.”
Rep. Carbajal also stressed the goals of reforming immigration policies and making healthcare more affordable and accessible for all Americans.