On a brisk day in Washington, D.C., Joe Biden took his oath as president and then promised to tackle the most vexing issues facing the nation, including curbing the pandemic, knocking down political extremism and creating economic and social justice.
“To overcome these challenges — to restore the soul and to secure the future of America — requires more than words,” Biden said during the rainbow-styled inauguration ceremony. “It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity.”
Analysts say that in order for Biden to heal a fractured nation, he must not only strike a unifying tone, but expose and defeat the forces of hate. While unifying the country around a set of principles could take years to accomplish, Biden could build faith among Americans by ushering the country out of the pandemic and countering the four bombastic years of former President Donald Trump with professional, if understated, leadership.
The White House, they say, doesn’t have to be the set of a never-ending reality television drama.
“People are just looking for Joe Friday, just the facts,” said Ed Espinoza, the executive director of the liberal group Progress Texas. “They just want a guy who can go in and get it done. People are exhausted after the last four years and they just want a steady hand at the wheel.”
Espinoza said Biden’s call for unity struck the right chord, and signals to supporters and rivals that disagreements over issues don’t have to descend into chaos.
“The tone of the presidency is already completely different than the dark and bombastic tone of the Trump era,” Espinoza said.
But conservatives aren’t sure about Biden, fearing he will capitulate to his party’s progressive left flank.
And some express doubt about his call for unity, particularly after his harsh criticism of the Trump era.
“Didn’t watch it,” Dallas County Republican Party Chairman Rodney Anderson said about Biden’s inauguration. “Where was unity the last four years?”
Even before Biden was inaugurated, conservative radio talk show host Mark Davis told The Dallas Morning News that the need for Republicans and Democrats to stop bickering was overblown.
“Republicans now know that their job in representing their constituents is to fight what their voters consider to be bad ideas, just as the Democrat Party fought back against Trump and Republicans,” Davis said. “It’s the way things are now. And that’s not necessarily bad.”