Elect Joe Biden was sworn into office today amid a global pandemic and historic civil unrest. On the very same steps where violent insurrectionists stormed the US Capitol just two weeks earlier, Kamala Harris became the first black, Asian, and female Vice President and Joe Biden began what is sure to be a trying first 100 days in office. In a series of sweeping executive orders1, Biden made good on several major promises from his campaign- quickly enacting a federal mask mandate, nixing the Keystone XL pipeline, and ending the Muslim ban.
It was truly a surreal moment for myself, as I’m sure it was for many of you. I can easily recall my disgust on election night in 2016. I remember googling “President of the United States” over and over as if the results would somehow be different the next time. It’s been an arduous, exhausting, deadly four years, but the same google search today made a lot of lives just a little bit brighter.
Despite the day of high fashion and grand fireworks, however, it was ultimately a day characterized more by somber relief than true celebration. After all, this presidency was always supposed to be a transition period. It promised to be a return to normalcy and grown ups in the White House, but a far cry from the revolution leftists were clamoring for.
There is still much work to be done. The social climate that fueled Donald Trump’s rise in the first place has not gone anywhere. There are still 70 million voters who ultimately sided with him for one reason or another. The deep seated mistrust of institutions and true hatred between differing groups that came to define the waning days of Trump’s America have not magically vanished, nor have the conditions that allowed so many Americans to become so fervently enamored with his message. We must keep fighting the hate and perhaps most difficult of all, we must work with each other to understand why so many sympathized with his message. If we don’t, the problem will remain, it will fester, and it will eventually all bubble up again. History is cyclical; we cannot be the fools doomed to repeat it. Biden said it best, the soul of our country needs serious healing. Today was just our first bite of chicken noodle soup.