The U.S. Inauguration Was Good for Global Morale but Shouldn’t Make Us Complacent
Several prominent newspapers — ranging from The Guardian to The New York Times to The Telegraph — welcomed U.S. President Joe Biden’s inauguration yesterday with a simple, powerful message: “Democracy has prevailed.”
This mood reflected across the Internet as millions of people around the world heaved a sigh of relief as power shifted from Donald Trump, a chaotic, bigoted demagogue, to Joe Biden, an individual who promises reason, logic, and democracy. Plus, the inauguration also showed a mixed-race woman of color — Vice-President Kamala Harris — officially take power, which in itself is a sign of what could be possible for marginalized communities in the U.S. from now on. Photos and memes of the new president and vice-president interacting with well-known anti-Trumpian leaders like the Obamas and Bernie Sanders cemented the fact that Trump was finally gone and hope was in sight.
Yet, though the inauguration and proclamations of how democracy has prevailed serve to boost morale, it is equally important to realize that, as President Biden said in his inauguration speech, there is, “….much to repair. Much to restore. Much to heal. Much to build. And much to gain.” And accomplishing this is impossible if both U.S. citizens and individuals around the world affected by U.S. policy merely take a shift in tonality as a sign of solid progress. Not being Donald Trump may seem like a heroic act, but it is actually mere human civility. The U.S. and the world must expect more, pay attention, and critique President Biden’s leadership with the same (or even more) scrutiny that it afforded its openly evil former leader.
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There is hope in the U.S.’s ability to return to pre-Trump era policy and governance themes, considering President Biden’s first few executive orders involved returning the U.S. to the Paris Climate accord and the World Health Organization, repealing the travel ban on Muslim majority countries, and pausing the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
However, the true test of President Biden’s leadership will occur in the days to come. The U.S. continues to face enormous casualties from the Covid19 virus, an unstable economy, domestic terrorism, racial injustice, and frequent climate disasters. All of this is further complicated by fractured relationships with other countries around the world, the nation’s own position as a prominent world leader, and the second impeachment of a controversial former president.
While President Biden hitting the ground running is a good sign, people who depend on his efficiency have no time to be complacent. President Biden needs to know that people are watching — not with the relief of knowing Donald Trump doesn’t hold power, but with the vigor of engaged citizens ready to hold their new leader accountable. That is how democracy prevails.