It’s official: Joe Biden is now the 46th and current President of the United States and Kamala Harris is now the 49th and current Vice-President of the United States. They were sworn in on the steps of the US Capitol just before noon eastern time today.
This is the very same Capitol was the site of a domestic terrorist attack and attempted coup two weeks ago. Today, Washington DC’s National Mall (the Capitol Region) was on lockdown and only invited guests seen on camera were present, with 200 000 flags standing in for an audience.
Biden mentioned the attack on American Democracy as well as the lingering threat of white supremacy in his inaugural speech. He also took a moment of silence for the lives lost to COVID-19 and promised to re-build America’s international reputation.
It was a moving speech with some firsts, such as actually identifying white supremacy as a threat by name. It was also a return to the classic “President of all Americans”-type speech with a call for unity, without specifying who was unifying with whom.
There was one huge break with tradition: while former Presidents and outgoing Vice-President Mike Pence were there, now-Former President Donald Trump was not. He flew back to Florida earlier this morning.
Normally, something that is scheduled to happen for months actually happening is not breaking news, but with all the legal, rhetorical and eventually violent threats to the results of the last election, this time it is.
Biden and Harris have now left the US Capitol. Biden has promised a slew of Executive Orders on Day One to rescind Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban, re-enter the US into the Paris Climate Accord and World Health Organization and more.
We will see how quickly his actions match his rhetoric. Regardless, the US has now turned a page.