Inauguration Day Reflections

Some random thoughts as Joe Biden is sworn in today as President of the United States. I’ve been thinking about the day, and the challenges the new president faces. Each paragraph is a stand-alone today – read as many or as few as you like.

Joe Biden assumes office as President of the United States today, his 79th birthday. I don’t envy him. I will pray for him.

I’d say America’s four-year Trump nightmare was over, except half of the country wouldn’t agree with me. Which, I guess, is Biden’s starting point.

At least the man comes into the job with experience. He has forgotten more about policy-making than Trump will ever know. And as politicians go, he is respected. But the task before him is huge.

The United States remains the world’s preeminent superpower, even if it hasn’t acted like one in recent years. With that status comes a huge foreign policy responsibility. I pray Biden is up to it – I wasn’t impressed with the foreign policy skills of the two previous American presidents.

Of greater concern for Americans is perhaps the divisions within the country. Biden has talked about healing, but can he bring people together? Urban and rural. Black and white. Republican and Democrat. Old and young. Rich and poor. Native-born and immigrant. White and blue-collar. North and south. East and West (and mid-west). I’ve probably missed a few. There are so many ways America is divided.

The next four years could be crucial. Given the state of America, I suppose you could even say the next four hours or days could be crucial.

I’ve had a nagging feeling since the coup attempt a couple of weeks ago that there is more in store. I’m hoping whomever is in charge of security understands just how vulnerable the event is to an attack of some sort. A couple of Allen Drury novels with inauguration scenes are running through my head. Praying that they won’t become reality.

How do you heal a broken country? Where do you start? Can healing come from the top down, or must it begin with individuals?

Are America’s institutions so broken that radical changes are necessary, or are small tweaks sufficient? Is there a common vision of what America means? Or is the country so divided that there is no foundation to build on?

In past weeks I have watched and wondered as Americans were split on the second impeachment of Donald Trump. I wondered if it was worth the effort.

There is no doubt that there are sufficient grounds to go through the impeachment process yet again. But might it be better to let him fade into the sunset in the last days of his presidency rather than stir up the hornet’s nest of his unthinking followers?

Impeachment, it seemed to me, was just creating a political martyr. Better to let the voters have the last word than prolong the agony. Better to be statesmanlike than vindictive.

Those who wanted Donald Trump banned from ever running for public office were to me a little shortsighted. And fearful. Why the Republican party ever found him to be an acceptable candidate is one of America’s mysteries.

A lot can change in four years. You need only to look at the past four to acknowledge that. If Joe Biden is the president America is hoping for, no-one will vote for Donald Trump in 2024. If he indeed follows through on his threat to run for president again.

Any thoughts you’d like to add?

So welcome Joe Biden. The world wishes you well, for the most part. Certain dictators might not be happy to have to deal with you and not Donald Trump, but they’ll get over it.

We can’t say yet that America’s nightmare is over, but at least it looks like the country might be waking soon.

4 comments

  1. Harper didn’t like Trump, but noted in his first win that those areas hurt the most by trade with China (i.e. lost their jobs to overseas factories) were more likely to vote for Trump. Biden has now doubled the minimum wage for federally-regulated industries. How can jobs survive with a sudden 100% increase? Unemployment follows. Unemployed will have more time to see illegal immigrants take work. Frustration increases. The next Republican nominee will try to speak to these people, as Trump mobilized them so much. And Trump will likely run as an independent.

    1. I don’t see Trump running an an independent in 2024. He’ll be in his late 70s and his candidacy would only ensure a Harris win. I doubt he’d want to expend the energy.

  2. Good post…but remember the second-most votes ever was won by Mr. Trump in 2021. Two questions: is he worthy of running again given that he raised violence against the institutions of democracy? and, given his popular support, is pushing down on him going to cause a reaction?

    1. The bigger question is: was he worthy of running the first time? His initial candidacy would never have been accepted in Canada.

      In four years time the idea of another Trump presidency may be unthinkable, even to Republicans.

      That he could receive the second highest number of votes ever cast in an American election and still loose seems to me to be a pretty firm repudiation. After all, in 2016 he lost the popular vote and managed to win the election. he improved his numbers in 2020, and lost decisively.

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