At 11:18 am the time has come: Hand in hand with his wife Jill, Joseph Robinette “Joe” Biden walks down the blue and red ramp on the west side of the Capitol that leads to the pedestal where the 46th President of the United States will be sworn in 32 minutes later. His gait is a bit insecure, perhaps due to his 78 years of age, but perhaps the soon-to-be-most powerful man on earth is just a little nervous.
Who would be surprised, given the distance Joe Biden had to cover to get there and the challenges that await him now?
Historical in many ways
As they walk down, the couple looks at faces whose expressions behind the masks are only revealed through the eyes. On airy rows of chairs set up on the green lawn with corona-appropriate spacing. And on the green space of the National Mall, where this January instead of hundreds of thousands of people celebrating happily, American flags planted close together are blowing in the icy wind. This inauguration is historic in many ways.
The combination of the pandemic and fear of attacks by disappointed Trump supporters has turned the center of the American capital into an almost inaccessible high-security wing this Wednesday. Spectators are not welcome, the television nation should rather gather at home in front of their screens.
Jill and Joe Biden also look into the face of Mike Pence, the outgoing Vice President. Pence, who, unlike Donald Trump, congratulated Biden on his election victory and came to this venerable ceremony. Back to this place that became the crime scene exactly 14 days ago. To a house where Pence had to fear for his life because Trump supporters suddenly see him as a traitor.
Next to Pence is Kamala Harris, you can clearly see the joy in her despite her black mask: She makes history because she becomes not only the first female vice president in American history, but also the first African-American and Asian-American woman in office. Sign of a new time.
Biden knows all that, he knows the gigantic hopes that now rest on him and his deputy. He closes his eyes several times. The day before, when he said goodbye to his hometown Wilmington in Delaware, which is not so far away, he even began to tears when he remembered his deceased son Beau, whom he would have wanted by his side now. Joe Biden is a man who is not embarrassed about emotions, who experiences pain himself, and is receptive to others.
Barack Obama has also come
Nor is Biden embarrassed that it is generally believed that he is not the greatest speaker who has ever stood at this point – Barack Obama will also be among the audience on January 20th. Sometimes Biden gets tangled up, now and then he repeats a word or starts again. And Biden quite deliberately addresses the American people in the most important speech of his life with “folks”, people. He wants to show that he is one of them. Not aloof, not educated at an elite university, just “Joe”, the son of a car dealer from Scranton, Pennsylvania. A humble man to be the next US president – what a difference from the man he is succeeding.
At this point it is long gone. Before the ceremony, shortly before eight o’clock local time, the “Marine One” helicopter lands on the lawn in front of the White House. At 8:13 am, Melania and Donald Trump come to the journalists, thank them for the good cooperation, and the still-President says: “I hope it won’t be a long farewell.” Anyone who wanted could do so as an announcement Understand comebacks. So isn’t that it?
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Both are dressed in black. He grabs her hand, they board the helicopter, which takes off, makes a lap over Washington DC and lands ten minutes later on “Joint Base Andrews” in Maryland. “Air Force One” is waiting there in the rising sun.
Except for a few family members, co-workers and friends, nobody came to this farewell ceremony, including Vice President Mike Pence, who was loyal to him for four years.
That’s it For real.
Trump stands at the microphone and speaks his last words as president without a teleprompter. He praised his work, damned the “China virus”, celebrated the 74 million voters who voted for him on November 3rd, wished his successor “good luck and success” and said: “We will soon be back in some way . We’ll see each other again soon. ”Exit from the stage to the sound of“ YMCA ”, up the gangway to the plane and off to Florida, to West Palm Beach, to his private golf club“ Mar-a-lago ”.
That’s it For real.
[Alligatoren, Burger und Atomraketen: Die denkwürdigsten Momente des Donald Trump]
The evening before, he had published a 20-minute farewell speech on video. Trump calls for prayers for the success of the upcoming administration. “We bring our best wishes and we want you to be lucky too.” He does not mention the name of his successor, Joe Biden. Instead, he says the movement he started is just beginning. To some, it sounded like a threat.
But can Trump still threaten? And with what? He’s been an ex-president since 12 noon. This is what the twentieth amendment to the constitution determines. He no longer has access to the atomic case, his words no longer trigger national eruptions. The immunity protection that has so far saved him from criminal prosecution is gone. Various proceedings are now pending. It’s about tax evasion, opaque activities of his business empire, rape, incitement to electoral fraud, incitement to riot. It is being checked whether Trump has violated Washington DC laws with his incendiary rhetoric.
Proximity to Trump is now considered toxic
Trump stubbornly denied his defeat in the election. Now reality is catching up with him with full force. He was the least popular president ever, with an average approval rating of 41 percent, currently 34 percent. The White House, Senate and House of Representatives are in the hands of the Democrats. The banks are distancing themselves, the city of New York wants to end all business relations. He was banned from Twitter, where he had more than 88 million followers, as well as from Facebook, Youtube and Instagram.
The turning point marks January 6th. It’s the day when Congress should finally certify the election result – and a militant pro-Trump mob storms the Capitol. Senators and MPs fear for their lives and look into the abyss of unbridled Trumpism. A president who makes deals with chauvinists, anti-Semites, conspirators, and racists? Since then, proximity to Trump has been considered toxic. Trump has driven himself into isolation with his furor.
It has fallen deep in the past two weeks. Still, nobody has to feel sorry for him. Many Democrats are calling for his term in office to be worked up and for the ex-president to be held accountable. For his demagogy, the contempt of “the system”, the lies, the abuse of power, the attempt to manipulate the election, the call to violence. Hence the second impeachment.
Contrary to tradition, Trump has just left his successor a note in the empty White House. He didn’t want to greet him, he didn’t congratulate him on his victory either. Joe Biden doesn’t seem particularly unhappy about this. He wants to end the Trump era with all its conspiracy theories with his speech in front of the Capitol, he promises to “defend the truth and defeat the lies”.
Biden wants to end the “uncivil war”
The speech is not a surprise, and the astonishing thing is that after four constantly excited years this is a pleasant realization. Joe Biden wants to restore “unity”, to unite the country. “I will be a president to all Americans,” he says. America must end this “uncivil war” that did not start just four years ago, but which Trump has taken to extremes so intolerably.
The first cracks in the frozen political division are already showing. It goes without saying that not only Pence but also Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, will be there this Wednesday lunchtime, and yet it is worth mentioning. McConnell was also in the morning service with Biden. The two know and appreciate each other from their time together in the Senate and also from the eight years that Biden was actually the chairman of this chamber as Vice President. A few hours earlier, a letter from 17 newly elected Republican MPs had become known, assuring Biden that they would work with him. “We firmly believe that what unites Americans is so much greater than what can separate us.”
Some Republicans want to continue benefiting from grassroots anger
Trump supporters such as Senators Ted Cruz (Texas) and Josh Hawley (Missouri), who stand for the continuation of Trumpism and want to prevent the ex-president for his role in the storm by all means, also came to the ceremony the Capitol will be held accountable. They will make life difficult for the new government and want to continue benefiting from the anger of the grassroots.
He wanted to heal the country, Biden said it several times that day.
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You can take that literally, because the country continues to suffer enormously from the corona crisis and its consequences, even if the Trump administration had not taken it particularly seriously for a long time. Biden has stated that fighting the pandemic is his top priority.
New times are dawning
On the eve of the inauguration, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris stand by the Reflection Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial, with a view of the Capitol a few kilometers away, commemorating the 400,000 people who have already fallen victim to the pandemic. Soon more people will have died from the pandemic in the United States than in World War II. It’s a quiet, dignified ceremony where lights are lit and Biden only speaks briefly. It is also the first national memorial ceremony since the pandemic began.
Even before they even take over government, Biden and Harris make it clear: This is going to be different.
This new aspect can also be felt at the ceremony in front of the Capitol, where Lady Gaga belts out the national anthem and Jennifer Lopez fervently sings “This Land is Your Land” and then “America the Beautiful”, interrupted by an excerpt from the oath of the flag – in Spanish. The Biden administration will also be the most inclusive cabinet that has ever ruled the United States, a cabinet that finally takes note of the diversity of this immigrant country.
How serious Biden is with his new beginning, he makes clear on Wednesday. On the first day of his term in office, according to his staff, he plans to sign more government decrees than any US president has ever done. It should be 17 at the end of the day, with which the USA rejoins the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization and ends the entry ban for people from predominantly Muslim countries. A new era begins in America.