President Biden’s (boy, does that sound good!) inaugural address was short on platitudes, but long on message. It was a message of unity. If there was ever a president who understood personal hardships more than Biden, it certainly has not been so since JFK or FDR. The long game is clear. We will need to pull together if we are to conquer the virus, overcome its economic destruction, address systemic racism, and reclaim our position of leadership in the world. Joe Biden may just be the guy who can look across the table from Mitch McConnell and get something done. If Mitch is worried about his legacy, now is the time to fix the blemish that has been his last four years of alliance with a tyrant.
Let’s give a little credit where credit is due. Mike Pence earned major props just for showing up today. He was gracious in representing the last administration and seemed to be at ease with what had befallen him. He knew the job was dangerous when he took it so I have no sympathy for anyone who would be Donald Trump’s second in any endeavor, but at least he showed up at the end.
Trump still thinks he’s coming back. Surprise, Donald. The GOP already has you in its rear view mirror. Enjoy Mar A Lago. It’s your last resting place. You cannot go back to New York unless subpoenaed to do so and you surely cannot show your face in Washington. I’m already thinking about Trump’s funeral being like Nixon’s. Not in Washington.
Now President Biden needs to get to work. What does unity look like in real terms.
First, he’s got to get everyone vaccinated. That’s essential. He also will need expert guidance with regard to whether or not we all need coronavirus vaccine every year if the virus keeps mutating or the vaccine-induced antibodies are transient. Will it be like measles and be a one time shot or like the flu and be needed anew annually? No one is quite sure yet, but we will need to know by the fall if we are to be ready.
Second, he needs to get that economic package through Congress with checks to those in need and aid to businesses as well as to states to get the vaccine in people’s arms.
Third, he needs to get more people back to work. I suggest a new infrastructure bill and a 21st century Civilian Conservation Corps a la FDR. The roads need repair. So do the bridges. Let’s put people to work doing just that. And on the way let’s lay that high-speed Internet cable to every corner of the country.
Fourth, the Department of Justice must prosecute the insurrectionists of January 6 and if they are found guilty, imprison them. An example must be set against the white supremacists who led the charge up Capitol Hill. We have a golden moment now. The Trump Presidency gave these villains the agency that they hadn’t had since Reconstruction. They are out in the open now. Let’s find them, try them fairly for any violence or violent threats against the government, and then penalize them appropriately. If the German people had done that in the early 1930’s, millions would have survived the Nazis. There can be no doubt that the people who stormed up Capitol Hill are American Nazis and need to be dealt with as such.
None of this addresses the threat of China, Russia, North Korea or Iran. Any of these actors could prove willing to test the resolve of a new American administration. I believe that Mr. Biden is up to the task. He has vast foreign policy experience and a good team around him if the Senate confirms them. He’s ready.
The new president has called for unity. He will serve those who did not vote for him as willingly as those who did, something Mr. Trump never did.
America has another chance. Let’s get it right this time.