Biden steps into office, calls for united action

Chris Vargelis

On Jan. 20, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. He centered his inaugural speech and ceremony around a message of unity and stability, following a tumultuous year of unprecedented disruption. Thousands of National Guard troops were stationed around the Capitol, safeguarding against a repeat of the Jan. 6 Capitol storming. 

Although COVID-19 restrictions prevented large public crowds and caused the selected participants to be socially distanced, the ceremony still featured the usual decoration and pomp. A significant display of nearly 200,000 American flags symbolizing victims of the virus was a unique aspect of the ceremony.

Former President Donald Trump did not attend the inauguration, a decision that is almost unheard of in American history. Trump is the first president to snub the inauguration since Andrew Johnson refused to attend in 1869. While the inauguration commenced, Trump was taking a final trip in Air Force One to Florida, after a goodbye speech to his supporters. 

Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History and Government teacher Lindsey Kornfeld believes that Trump’s inaugural absence was not out of character.

“It was unprecedented. But his presidency was unprecedented … It wasn’t surprising. He has done things his own way ever since he stepped in the political ring. And he did it his own way on the way out,” Kornfeld said.

Biden, who ran as a moderate Democrat, aimed to attract bipartisan support with his speech. Words such as “we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause” attempted to reconcile the bitter divisions that marked this year’s election. Redwood students had differing opinions on his speech.

Junior Hudson Brekhus-Lavinsky, a self-described centrist, has an optimistic perspective on President Biden’s inaugural address.

“He did a good job speaking to both parties. His incorporation of bipartisan interests was important,” Lavinsky said. “Especially following the very polarized election and events that have gone down recently, there was obviously very high tension.”

Lavinsky’s expectations for the presidency are a mix of hope and hesitancy.

“I hope he acts in the best interest of all American people, but … I don’t think that people should lower their standards or expectations just because they think that Trump’s presidency was a failure,” Lavinsky said. 

Senior Dean Rider, who said that he leans left socially and right fiscally, felt that Biden’s speech was appropriate under the circumstances.

“I thought it was the right speech that this country really needed at the moment,” Rider said. “I’m happy that we have a president who has campaigned on [unity] and will hopefully actually start to unify this country.” 

Although Rider took issue with some of Biden’s policies and described himself as being less liberal than Biden, he is hopeful about the country’s future.

“It’s my belief, and I’m sure a lot of other Americans’ [belief], that when the president succeeds, we all succeed.”


Biden used a bible that has been in his family for generations to be sworn in as the 46th president. (Courtesy of The New York Times)