Joe Biden’s Inauguration and the Country’s Political Divide

Approximately 33.8 million people tuned in Jan. 20, 2021, across 17 different networks to view the inauguration of President Joseph Biden. Just before Biden took the oath of office to become the 46th president, Kamala Harris made history when she was sworn in as the first female vice president in American History. 

The 2020 election saw Biden and Harris lead a wide coalition of Democrats who gained control over both houses of Congress and the Presidency. However, baseless claims of voter fraud, peddled by former President Donald Trump led many Republicans to object to the election results, despite certification by local and state level bipartisan election boards.

“The 2020 election was so different from the past elections our country has had because of the strong divide of the people that fueled anger, frustration and hate. The things that our country had at stake would have been greatly impacted by whichever presidential candidate won, so it became a competition between the people to get the president that would benefit them the most,” SGA President Gabby Diaz said.

Following the unprecedented Capitol Riots Jan. 6, 2021, the state of the nation was thrown into chaos as individuals with differing ideologies became even further divided. These riots, that are said to have been spurred on by Trump, occurred when a mob of people, the majority being white supremacists and Trump supporters, stormed the U.S. Capitol building. The breach occurred during an ongoing Congress session. The rioters expressed their support of Trump while attempting to disrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. 

However, Biden acknowledged the country’s necessity for unity in his inaugural speech, referencing “unity” or “uniting” 11 times. While all the inaugural speeches of the past have focused on the idea of uniting the country, there has never been a situation in which the president has had to deal with riots incited by his predecessor.

“Bringing together a nation as divided as we are today is a tall order. Biden campaigned on his ability to successfully quash those divisions and the extent to which he does so remains to be seen over the next four years,” social studies resource teacher Michelle Bateman said. “The fact that the Democratic party holds a majority in the House, Senate and the presidency should expedite the process of passing laws, however the minds of the people won’t necessarily change as a result of legislation.”

As Biden and his administration begin his four-year term, they have already been faced with factionalism from Republicans in Congress who believe that his win in the election was contrived. 

Although presidential inaugurations have always incited some political dispute among differing parties, Biden’s administration will likely continue to see an increase in partisan hostility due to the country’s widening political divide. 

“There will likely be challenges in the courts to some of the executive orders he has already instituted and on future legislation.  In order to be considered a successful president, Biden will need to effect a cultural shift in America,” Bateman said.