‘There’s always light’: President-elect Biden inherits divided country, ongoing pandemic

In this file photo, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally Monday, March 2, 2020, at Texas Southern University in Houston. | Associated Press photo by Michael Wyke, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Just before noon EST (10 a.m. MST) on Wednesday, President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States during a time unlike any other in American history. With the state of the nation awash in division and the fallout of an ongoing pandemic, Biden will reportedly be calling for unity and optimism.

In this May 2017 file photo, Joe Biden speaks at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Declaring “this is a time for big dreams,” May 24, 2017 | Associated Press file photo by Steven Senne, St. George News

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cut across the country and has thus far claimed 400,000 American lives. A ceremony of remembrance was held Tuesday in Washington, D.C., and other cities across the nation to remember those who died.

An estimated 25,000 National Guard soldiers have been deployed to the nation’s capital due to fears of violent protests breaking out in response to the inauguration amid continuing claims from Trump supporters that the election was stolen from him.

A general atmosphere of division has also settled across the country and stoked fears for the future on both sides of the political spectrum. This has only worsened since the Jan. 6 riot that saw the breach of the U.S. Capitol by protesters.

Despite these issues, the president-elect offered a brief comment of hope Tuesday in his home state of Delaware before leaving for Washington, D.C.

“I know these are dark times,” Biden said, “but there’s always light …. There’s always light.”

He also remarked on how the nation can change, and change for the better, as he recalled speaking to family members while waiting at a train station several years ago to meet up with a Black man who would become the first African-American to be elected president of the United States.

This was quite a change from the bleak, dark days that came in the wake of Martin Luther King. Jr.’s assassination, Biden said.

In this Nov. 30, 2010, file photo, California Attorney General Kamala Harris gives her first news conference in Los Angeles, Calif. | Associated Press file photo by Damian Dovarganes, St. George News

Now Biden will be returning to Washington, D.C., as a president who will have the first Black woman of Southeast Asian-descent, former California Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris, as his vice president.

“Don’t tell me things can’t change,” Biden said. “They can, and they do.”

Diverse cabinet picks and a hope for an inclusive president

According to various other news outlets, the president-elect’s cabinet may be among the most diverse in American history.

Among Biden’s cabinet appointees is the first Native American woman, Rep. Deb Haaland, D-New Hampshire, to serve in a cabinet position as the next Secretary of the Interior. Many women have also been nominated for various cabinet-level positions.

Rachel Levine, a transgender woman, pediatrician and former general physician and the current health secretary of Pennsylvania, was also recently nominated by the incoming Biden administration to be the assistant secretary of health.

Prospective Cabinet members representing other minorities within America have also been nominated.

“One of the things he’s already done is form a cabinet that’s much closer to look like America’s diverse demographic,” Chuck Goode, chair of the Washington County Democrat Party, told St. George News.

Expressing a great amount of hope for the future thanks to an incoming Biden presidency, Goode said he believes the next president will strive to be inclusive to all Americans.

“Everyone, I hope, is going to feel included,” Goode said. “It’s a chance for all of us to come together.”

On the new president’s check list

Goode said he is also looking forward to what the Biden administration plans to do following the inauguration.

According to NBC News, Biden’s first 10 days as president will include proposing legislation offering a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, reversing President Donald Trump’s travel ban on certain Islamic countries, rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, extending a pause on student loan payments, launching a 100-day mask-wearing campaign and extending a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.

Chuck Goode talks to the audience at the Washington County Democratic convention at Tonaquint Intermediate School in St. George, Utah, April 2, 2016 | File photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

Moves will also be made on items related to the pandemic, such as expanding testing and protection for workers and finding safe ways to reopen schools and businesses.

Biden also plans to push his proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan that is slated to include a new round of stimulus payments to American citizens and a federal minimum wage increase to $15 an hour.

“It will go to the right place – to those who are suffering because of the pandemic and small business,” Goode said.

In response to worries some opponents to a Biden administration have had about another round of pandemic-triggered lockdowns, Goode said he didn’t see that happening due to the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines and new knowledge gained on how to deal with the spread of the virus.

Not all sunshine and roses for the other side

Goode expressed hope that the Biden presidency will bring Americans together and appeal for unity, and he said he felt Democrats and Republicans largely have the same goals yet disagree on how to accomplish them.

“We’re on your side,” he said. “We want to address the problems and fears too.”

Washington County Republican Chair Jimi Kestin isn’t as optimistic about the new administration as Goode is.

“As a conservative Republican, my hope is our incoming president will be the moderate he portrayed himself to the people as being,” Kestin said. “That said, I believe his policies will be destructive to our economy and nation.”

Jimi Kestin was re-elected as the chair of the Washington County Republican Party during the party’s organizing convention held at Dixie Technical College, St. George, Utah, April 27, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Kestin said he also hopes Biden will stand up to the what he said is the far left element of the Democrat Party that seeks to impose socialism on the country while either limiting or ignoring Constitutional freedoms. Biden himself may not be the moderate he claims to be, Kestin said said, or he will be a weak president who allows a socialistic transformation of America to take place regardless.

“The hope is that they (the Democrats) will not be able to enact the worst parts that have been proposed by the far left,” he said, adding that some Democrat senators may balk at particularly unpopular legislation due to their being up for reelection in two years.

Despite Biden’s own calls for national unity, neither side seems overly willing to comply at this time.

Republicans and Trump supporters are increasing upset and frustrated over what they claim to be a massive push for censorship by the left and their Big Tech allies in the wake of Trump’s ban from Twitter.

Meanwhile, some on the left fear some of their Republican colleagues want to kill them as others call for a ban on conservative media, like Fox News, which they accuse of spreading misinformation.

Biden’s inauguration

Nothing Biden plans to do will happen until after he is inaugurated on Wednesday.

While Biden and Harris will be taking the oath of office on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, it will be in front of a small crowd.

The president-elect’s inauguration committee has asked Americans to stay home for the event and watch it on the television or online instead. This is primarily due to worries of spreading COVID-19, as well as a plea to avoid any potentially violence in Washington, D.C., focused around the inauguration.

In this 2012 file photo, then-Vice President Joe Biden speaks at M-7 Technologies in Youngstown, Ohio, May 16, 2012 | Associated Press file photo by Tony Dejak, St. George News

Details on the Biden inauguration and the events surrounding it can be found on the Biden-Harris Inaugural website.

Biden was elected to the office of the president of the United States with a final total of 81 million votes to Trump’s 74 million votes, according to the Associated Press. It is noted as the highest vote count ever received by a presidential candidate.

The final results did not come without controversy, as allegations of voter fraud, irregularities and a stolen election were made by Trump and many of his supporters. Various lawsuits made by Trump and others asking the courts to look into the matter were dismissed, one after another.

The final chance to challenge the election results – or at least get more accusations of voting irregularities publicly heard – came on Jan. 6 with the some Republican members of Congress objecting to the counting of the electoral college votes from contested states. This move came to a quick end following the storming of the U.S. Capitol the same day by individuals who attended a pro-Trump protest.

Biden will be the oldest individual elected to the presidency at 78 years old. Conversely, he was one of the youngest people to be elected to the Senate in 1973 when he was 31. Prior to joining the Senate, Biden was elected to the New Castle County Council in Delaware and had previously worked as a public defender.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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