Washington (AP) – When he took office as the new president of the United States, Joe Biden called on the Americans for unity and reconciliation. The 78-year-old took his oath of office on Wednesday in a solemn ceremony in front of the Capitol in the capital Washington.
Kamala Harris was sworn in as the country’s first female vice president. In his inaugural address, Biden promised to do everything possible to unite and heal the country. He called on citizens to start over, to listen to each other and to approach each other. At the same time, he promised, “I will be a president to all Americans.”
Biden replaces Republican Donald Trump, who in his four years in the White House had dramatically deepened the political rifts in the country. Contrary to tradition, Trump did not attend the inauguration of his successor.
Biden devoted his entire speech to the call for new cohesion in the country and made it clear that after the unprecedented turbulent Trump years, he wants to take a fundamentally new path. Biden did not name his predecessor. Biden warned that without unity there could be no peace and no progress, only bitterness, indignation and chaos. Biden promised that he would work with all his heart for unity and reconciliation.
The country is facing major challenges, he called the corona pandemic, the difficult economic situation, but also extremism and hatred in the country. But at the same time there is a lot of hope and enormous possibilities. “With unity, we can do great things, important things,” said the Democrat. “This is our moment in history. And unity is the way forward. “
Biden implored the Americans that the country had also overcome the challenges of the past with unity. “Let’s start over,” he said, promising to fight for those who didn’t support him as well as those who did.
In his speech, Biden also sent a signal to international allies: “We will restore our alliances and work with the world.” During his tenure, Trump had repeatedly insulted his allies by going it alone and turned his back on international organizations and agreements.
Biden’s speech was in stark contrast to Trump’s inaugural address four years ago. Trump had openly declared war on the Washington “establishment” and also ushered in a radical international change of course. “From that day on, it’s America first,” Trump said that day. The Republican had also painted a grim picture of the United States, where mothers and children are trapped in poverty, the education system is failing, criminal gangs lash out and diseased factories “scattered like tombstones across our country’s landscape.” “This American massacre ends here and now.”
Biden’s inauguration in the Capitol took place under unprecedented security. Two weeks ago, violent supporters of President-elect Trump stormed the parliament building. The fear of further violence surrounding the swearing-in was therefore great. Central Washington was extensively cordoned off. In addition to numerous police officers, thousands of National Guard members were deployed primarily to protect assembly headquarters.
Due to the corona pandemic, the transfer took place without the usual mass audience. In place of the hundreds of thousands of people, a sea of flags was placed in the open space between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial.
Trump left Washington for Florida, where his Mar-a-Lago club resort is located, a few hours before Biden’s inauguration in the morning. He is the first outgoing incumbent since 1869 not to attend the induction ceremony of his successor. Instead, Trump held a short farewell ceremony at Andrews military airport, not far from the capital, before his departure, and made it clear that he did not want to disappear from the scene. “We’re coming back in some form,” he said without being specific. Trump has not yet commented on his plans for the future. “I will always fight for you,” he told his followers.
Trump’s previous deputy Mike Pence and his wife Karen were guests at Biden’s swearing-in ceremony. Former US Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were also in the audience with their husbands.
Biden had won the November presidential election by a clear margin. He can count on the support of Congress in his planned projects, where his Democrats secured control of both houses in the elections. Trump had claimed without evidence that he had been robbed of victory by massive electoral fraud. For weeks, he tried extremely questionable methods of retroactively reversing Biden’s election victory.
Trump’s opposition to his electoral defeat culminated in the violent storming of the Capitol by his supporters. Shortly before that, Trump had incited his supporters to a meeting. The Democrats therefore made Trump personally responsible for the outbreak of violence and, supported by several Republicans, launched impeachment proceedings against him in the House of Representatives. Trump made history shortly before leaving the White House – as the first US president against whom two such proceedings were opened.
Biden is taking over from Trump a deeply divided country that is also facing various crises. The US is badly hit by the corona pandemic, plagued by an economic downturn, ravaged by racism and social inequality. In the background, climate change is on the rise, which Biden considers an “existential threat”. Many of his planned first official acts are aimed at overcoming these crises. On his first day of work, Biden wanted to issue a long list of orders, undoing countless decisions made by his predecessor.