The United States said goodbye to the era of Donald Trump and started a new stage with the arrival of Joe Biden the White House. The Democrat became president on Wednesday in front of the same Capitol invaded just two weeks ago and called for the “unity” of citizens at a particularly troubled time in history. In an emotional but atypical ceremony, overshadowed by the pandemic and exceptional security measures, Biden condemned the violence, praised the victory of democracy and called on the population to “start from scratch”. It was a cathartic speech, in a day for history. Kamala Harris is today the first woman to hold the vice presidency of the most powerful country in the world.
Just before 12 pm (2 pm in Brasilia), with his hand on the same Bible with which he took his oath as a senator in 1973, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. (Scranton, Pennsylvania, 78 years old) took office in the position he had always dreamed of. He is already the 46th president of U.S, the second Catholic in history (after John Fitzgerald Kennedy), the oldest to take office, a politician who a year ago was thought of as defeated. He is the man who managed to unite the Democrats against Trump and that will have the mission to rescue the nation from a very dark moment.
“We learned that democracy is a precious and fragile asset, but democracy won. This is America’s day, it is democracy’s day, ”said the new president in a 25-minute statement, whose tone was given by the grave moment the country is experiencing. He only briefly addressed the policies, plans and programs he intends to implement, did not mention Trump and preferred to focus his message on values, on the recovery of an American spirit that he defines as unity and struggle.
Biden, whom millions of Americans, instigated by Trump, accuse of stealing elections, insisted on the urgency “of the truth”. This insistence, as well as the general idea of the speech – leaving behind a time of war and trauma – conveyed a certain air of hope, but above all it recalled the words of Gerald Ford when he assumed the presidency in 1974, after the resignation of Richard Nixon because of the Watergate scandal: “Countrymen, our national nightmare is over.”
The United States is a country founded on rebellion against the monarchy, but with royal presidential rites, and the presidential inauguration day is one of the most important milestones, a grandiloquent, triumphant and optimistic ceremony. This year, it was overshadowed by pandemic, which claimed 400,000 lives in the country in the last year, and due to political polarization, which forced the capital to close and crystallized with the absence of the president at the end of his term. In place of the hundreds of thousands of citizens who usually follow the act live on the National Mall, the large green terrace dawned with a sea of flags in honor of those who died, in addition to some 25,000 National Guard soldiers protecting the streets.
With the end of Trump’s term, the United States sends the message that the populist movements that have grown in recent years around the world are beginning to wear out. With the violent invasion of Congress just two weeks ago, incited by the president himself and his lies, it also sends the signal that this division remains. Trump, breaking a more than century-old tradition, avoided accompanying his successor and left early in the city, proud, still in his capacity as president, to fly for the last time on the Air Force One presidential plane and land in his Florida.
It was, however, a day of hope for at least more than half of this country, exhausted after four years of strife, and for the rest of the world, especially traditional United States allies to whom the Obama vice president promised the return of great power on the international stage, after the nationalist turn driven by its republican predecessor. The new government inherits a country in an unprecedented 70-year recession with debt levels at the height of World War II.
Four hard years have passed in the life of this country, limits have been blown up, the frameworks of institutions and democracy have been tested. Citizens saw their president fraternize with the worst dictators on the globe, throw toilet paper packages at the victims of a hurricane and talk about the “good people” that were among the neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville in 2017. With the pandemic, Trump began to fall into hell. He persisted in denial, first, and then in extravagance. When he lost the elections, he launched the final challenge to the system, tried to reverse the result based on lies. More than half of Republican voters continue to believe them. As of Wednesday, Trump is already in Florida as a former president, and Biden is in the White House. The United States is now starting the hard road to reconciliation.