With a search nationwide of the front-pages of the morning newspapers, I have selected a wide swath, each with its own tone and emphasis which provides the first historical account of the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. There is no missing the point of turning a page ( no pun intended) from the past four years of crude and nasty to historic and democratic….and also Democratic! Enjoy this slice of Inauguration Day from our nation’s newspapers!
Many people in the nation were looking forward to the inauguration of a new president since the last such occasion in 2017. I have been looking forward to a Joe Biden presidency since giving money for his first run for the Oval Office in 1987. Finally, after a marvelous ceremony at the United States Capitol on Wednesday, with perfect Washington weather, we can all say Welcome to the White House President Joe Biden! With a truly historic cheer, we also welcome Vice-President Kamala Harris to the seat of power in this new administration.
Now the nation needs to get to work on a bevy of issues that not only impact us domestically but also have an international import that requires all-out diligence. While there were multiple occasions during Biden’s inaugural address to feel the grandeur of the moment and gravity of history I was also much lifted by the calls to our attention of duty beyond our shores.
Over the weeks of the transition, I have been heartened by the selection of wise, pragmatic, experienced, and grounded people to fill out the cabinet and other high profile positions. None more so than the ones to be in charge of international relations and national security. International understanding is sorely needed at this time in the White House so Antony Blinken as the secretary of state, Jake Sullivan as national security advisor, and Avril Haines as director of national intelligence bring the skillset required for this time. Those who share my internationalist views are aware these selections and the views they hold are in direct opposition to the failed policies of the past four years.
The only top nominee in this area I have a concern about is that of Lloyd Austin at the defense department, as it is imperative a civilian hold the reins of power. The last couple of weeks has demonstrated the fragility of our democracy, and with some threats reported from members of the military (retired or otherwise), it is vital that we have civilian control over this department. Austin is surely a fine man, and a proven leader. But there was a logical reason why the National Security Act of 1947 demands that the head of the Defense Department must be a civilian. It simply reflects the balance of powers outlined in the Constitution.
The past four years have left many around the globe questioning the resolve of the US and what role we can still play on the world stage. But let us not forget some truths.
The United States is the undisputed indispensable nation. Alliances do matter. Allies are friends where policy coordination and collaboration are shared responsibilities. As such, I felt the weight of the words President Biden sent to the world-wide audience.
So here’s my message to those beyond our borders. America has been tested and we’ve come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again. Not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. And we’ll lead, not merely by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. We’ll be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress and security.
From re-engaging with other countries to foster united solutions to climate change, seeking a healthy dialogue with Iran, and making it clear that territorial disputes in the South China Sea will be met with resolve are only the top tier items awaiting action. Throughout the coming years, it will be essential that we strengthen international institutions. Undoing the damage will take a very long time–more time than just during the Biden years. But we must, and can again demonstrate a resolve to be the leader the world needs. To think our national power and diplomatic might are not staples the world requires is to allow the rot of the past four years to linger.
That must not be allowed.
Our nation has been mocked, scorned, and laughed at for four years. But when it was announced that Joe Biden had won the election in November the sighs of relief and sincere messages of international hope made it perfectly clear what role the world wished our nation to again provide. Biden will make sure that the image of the United States as an unreliable partner is as removed as the former president is from power. At a time when illiberal democracy threatens nations globally makes it even more crucial we hold to the foundations of what makes America special…and then work again to promote it.
The past four years on the international stage can be summed up best when the U.N. general assembly burst into raucous laughter while Donald Trump was speaking. We can reverse the laugh lines. For instance, I am trusting that the Biden administration will demand that to gain preferential trading agreements means certain anti-corruption measures are first undertaken. This is a most vital point to press as justified anger over corruption in places around the world account for protests and unease which leads to instability in governments.
Much hope is in the air but much work needs to be achieved before anyone, anywhere can take a deep breath. We can meet the challenges with leadership and intellect. With our new leaders inaugurated today, I am confident we have secured both qualities in this White House.
And so it goes.
There is a daily routine in our home. I pull the blue plastic wrappers off the newspapers–wash my hands due to the pandemic–and then take my first glance at the headlines and stories that dominate the front pages. To be sure there are days when the headlines make me shake my head or mutter something. But this morning I picked up the front section of the Wisconsin State Journal, was truly taken aback, and read the top-of-the-fold story which continued on the second page, before even pouring my first cup of coffee. That just never happens.
Had anyone been looking at my face they would have surely seen a grimace that followed the read. When one wonders 1) why other nations have a dim view of the US and 2) why voters correctly chose a new president they can use this front page of the newspaper as Exhibit A.
This weekend leaders from the Group of 20 nations made an urgent request that no one could possibly begrudge. The call for global cooperation so that the coronavirus vaccine(s) can reach beyond the wealthiest nations makes complete sense in both a moral and ethical manner. Also, of course, such a mass distribution will be required if this virus is to be stemmed so economic gains again are to be realized around the world.
But as we have come to expect Donald Trump again made for an international stink. He pouted and made clear he was not ready to abandon his failed go-it-alone approach, which over the past months has included a break with the World Health Organization. As an internationalist and one who believes in science, it is clear as to why I had a facial expression this morning while reading the newspaper.
What Trump failed to do with the G-20 was once again a sign of not who is he, but what he is. He made no pledges on expanding the availability of U.S. vaccines. Think about that. In relation to the powerhouse moves that our nation has taken in the past to attempt to make sure peoples around the globe are immunized and treated with compassion, Trump being little and mean, would not step up and say absolutely the United States will share the COVID vaccine with the world. That was a soulless and immoral act that history will scorn.
It is imperative that the US participate on the world stage in a mature and professional manner again. The next administration will do that very thing starting on January 20, 2021.
Other nations are working together, as with the international vaccine collaboration Covax, a WHO-linked effort to expand vaccine distribution in the developing world. That is smart, vital, and a move that our nation should have not refused. Trump’s refusal to join Covax along with his disdainful way of treating the United Nation’s public health programming will end with a Joe Biden presidency.
When the tyrants and autocrats from Russia, Turkey, and China can stand up and talk about “humanitarian considerations” while the bunker-living narcissist in the White House cannot rally with any words that reflect the history of our nation, or our international capabilities, leaves this blogger grimacing.
But fear not, the good folks–Joe Biden and Kamala Harris–will soon arrive and take power in Washington.
And so it goes.
Every fiber of my being was alert, engaged, applauding, and aligned with the themes and speakers during the third night of the Democratic National Convention.
Starting with gun violence which plagues our nation and with Gabrielle Giffords providing words of hope and courage–which left tears in the eyes of both men in this home. Calls for humane pleas for justice and empathy with immigrants and those who are covered under DACA. It was one of those nights when Americans were able to see not only the problems which are piled high in our land but also the ways they can be dealt with through reasoned and logical leadership with Joe Biden.
In my daily life, I love the dead-pan and understated lines that when delivered power-punches in a way that a big build-up and splash could never convey as effectively. Such was the case when Kamala Harris, our next vice-president, stated matter-of-factly the following with eight words.
I know a predator when I see one.
It was a verbal volley not only over the Trump White House but straight through the front door. The self-admitted sexual predator who has lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the past four years has just been called out. The relentless repetition of his abuse of women will be a theme for the remaining 75 days of this election.
I have often asked how our nation fell from having a constitutional law professor in the White House with President Obama to Donald Trump who continuously showcases his ignorance. During Wednesday night’s convention, I was moved by the lifting words and solid underpinnings of Obama as he used history and our Constitution to show how our present course can be corrected. Must be corrected.
While listening to his speech I was reminded again how little leadership we have from this White House. Never once in the past four years could we ever have heard Trump offer any aspect of the lines we heard tonight–the type of words and substance our nation yearns for.
Some years ago, I sat down with John and the few remaining leaders of the early Civil Rights Movement. One of them told me he never imagined he’d walk into the White House and see a president who looked like his grandson. Then he told me that he’d looked it up, and it turned out that on the very day that I was born, he was marching into a jail cell, trying to end Jim Crow segregation in the South.
What we do echoes through the generations.
Whatever our backgrounds, we’re all the children of Americans who fought the good fight. Great grandparents working in firetraps and sweatshops without rights or representation. Farmers losing their dreams to dust. Irish and Italians and Asians and Latinos told to go back where they came from. Jews and Catholics, Muslims and Sikhs, made to feel suspect for the way they worshipped. Black Americans chained and whipped and hanged. Spit on for trying to sit at lunch counters. Beaten for trying to vote.
If anyone had a right to believe that this democracy did not work, and could not work, it was those Americans. Our ancestors. They were on the receiving end of a democracy that had fallen short all their lives. They knew how far the daily reality of America strayed from the myth. And yet, instead of giving up, they joined together and said somehow, some way, we are going to make this work. We are going to bring those words, in our founding documents, to life.
It was a night of tonic for the soul. Some tears, some smiles, some reflections, some hope building. It takes nights like this to get us to the place we want to be.
History was made Tuesday and will be made again on Election Day this fall, and yet again, in January on Inauguration Day. Joe Biden selected Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential running mate. I applaud the move, and today want to do what is often the case on this blog the day after news of this type is made—-by offering my readers a sampling of the front pages from newspapers across the nation.
We knew this day would come. The announcement of the Democratic Party running mate to Joe Biden. And when it arrived it sent a bolt of electrical energy around the nation. Senator Kamala Harris is about to make history, and her powerful narrative is exactly what the Democratic Party has long been known for as it pushes social change.
Harris will be the first Black woman and the first person of Indian descent to be nominated for national office by a major party. As the past months have clearly demonstrated there is a deep desire to push past the old ways of doing things, and confront what needs to change in the nation. Rather than just talk about it, Biden has started to act.
I had hoped Susan Rice would be the nominee as her deep experience with international relations gravitated with me. Alliances and arrangements with our global partners are not sexy topics to be sure, but they are vital ones. However, I can see Rice as Secretary of State and that would also confirm the commitment Biden has about rebuilding from the damaging last four years.
I am pleased with the selection of Harris as it is smart politics. A Biden-Harris ticket gives the Democratic Party leverage with more moderate voters. This nation yearns for normalcy, reasoned, and logical leadership. When they see Harris they will grasp the credible qualities she brings her with, and at the same time see the change and bending of the curve this nation has long been working toward.
Competence and pragmatism are what the Biden-Harris ticket will provide for the nation. And Republicans should not kid themselves into thinking that moderate and concerned members of their party were not waiting for yet another reason to vote against Trump. Centrist Harris will be enticing them at every turn.
Democrats have long provided the vehicle for tolerance and acceptance with the pushing of the envelope so that our national leadership mirrors the way our citizenry looks at banks, malls, soccer leagues, and churches. Just this past week I was looking at some books from when I was starting to learn to read. The school books of Jane and Dick and Sally are all caucasian kids. Not a child of color was to be seen. And we know that type of thinking and absurdity needs to end.
We need to see the full array of our nation reflected on every front page of our newspapers and on our nightly news. Our top elected leaders should embrace the future and look like the nation they wish to lead.
Today Joe Biden took his first major step with the elevation of Kamala Harris as the vice-presidential nominee. In January she will make another record-setting moment when sworn into office.
This is how change comes about. I am very pleased to be an American tonight. I have not had this feeling for a very long time.
And so it goes.