The Biden era was 24 hours ahead. The day before taking office, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris led an emotional ceremony at the feet of Abraham Lincoln. In the same place that Martin Luther King shook the nation in 1963, the new president honored the memory of the 400,000 human beings who lost the battle to COVID.
It was, in my opinion, a powerful metaphor for the transition from the end of a dark age to the beginning of a new dawn on the horizon. Donald Trump, the president of polarization and discord, was displaced before the eyes of the country and the world by the president of empathy and hope.
Deeply religious, Biden extended an olive branch the next day to two characters on the opposite corner of political and ideological geography, the leader of the Republicans in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, and his leader in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy. He invited them to pray together, in a Catholic temple. They accepted.
Biden’s silent message, ratified in his speech after assuming the presidency at noon on January 20, was crystal clear; Only in unity is it possible to overcome the great national challenges: the pandemic, the economic crisis, and the threat of domestic extremism.
But the transition also revealed that it will not be easy to dismantle the legacy of the Trump era. The wall of the city of Washington and the display of armored glass on both the Lincoln Memorial and on Capitol Hill, a powerful reminder of the division of the country.
It is a fact that Biden welcomes the most divided country since the Civil War, a word that is worryingly increasingly found in the vocabulary of right-wing militant groups that continue to believe that Trump is the legitimate president and Biden is a usurper.
But the task of unifying the country does not only correspond to the political class but to society as a whole.
The 200,000 flags that flew over the National Mall remind us that only united can we defeat the pandemic. Hence, Biden’s request that we ALL put on our masks in the next 100 days makes sense. We must do it out of common sense, but also out of respect for others.
The images of the presidential inauguration may end up being the mirage of a short-lived honeymoon. On more than one occasion, personal or group political interests have prevailed over the national interest.
But Biden’s gestures suggest that he is willing to invest the necessary political capital and bet on the beginning of an era of reconciliation, as the symbols materialize in policies that fill the gaps of inequality that have deepened for many in the wake of the pandemic, including comprehensive immigration reform that our essential and anonymous heroes deserve.
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