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Joe Biden addressed the country for the first time as president and declared to the nation that ‘democracy has prevailed’ – after a chaotic transition where his predecessor Donald Trump denied his election win and never congratulated him.

‘The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded,’ Biden said on the West Front of the Capitol just two weeks after MAGA riots threatened to stop the counting of the electoral votes for president in its tracks.

He added: ‘We’ve learned again that democracy’s precious, democracy’s fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.’

After the contentious contest, in which Trump falsely accused him of stealing the election, Biden paid tribute to the peaceful transfer of power and the resilience of American democracy.

‘This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day – a day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve, for crucible for the ages America has tested anew and America has risen to the challenge. Today we celebrate not a candidate, but a cause, the cause of democracy,’ he noted.

The 78-year-old thanked his predecessors of both parties for being at his swearing-in. Former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush attended – making Trump’s absence even more notable.

Trump skipped the event, flying to Mar-a-Lago after organizing his own pep rally sendoff, telling supporters and family members ‘Have a good life, we will see you soon.

‘I thank my predecessors of both parties for their presence here today. I thank them from the bottom of my heart,’ Biden said, adding he had spoken to former President Jimmy Carter on the phone the night before. Carter did not attend out of safety reasons because of the COVID pandemic.

Biden also acknowledged the attack that took place on the Capitol two weeks ago, when a pro-Trump mob interrupted the certification of his victory.

‘Now on this hallowed ground where just a few days ago violence sought to shake the capital’s very foundation. We come together under one nation, under god, indivisible, to transfer the peaceful power as we have for two centuries,’ he said.

Biden gave his inaugural remarks after history-making Vice President Kamala Harris was sworn in, with the oldest person to become president taking an oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ the Constitution – starting his tenure amid a pandemic and putting an end to a tumultuous four-year term by President Trump.

In his inaugural remarks, Biden declared: ‘Unity is the path forward.

He asked for all Americans to come together and join him. He also asked those 75 million Trump voters to ‘hear him out’ during his time in office.

‘My whole soul is in it today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this, bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. I ask every American to join me in this cause,’ he said.

Biden didn’t mention President Trump by name but his speech was full of denunciation of Trump’s tactics and methods.

‘We can see each other not as adversaries, but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature,’ he said.

Biden specifically called for an end to manipulating facts and raging at one another – two characteristics of Trump’s time in office.

‘Let’s start afresh, all of us. Let’s begin to listen to one another again, hear one another, see one another, show respect to one another. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured,’ he noted.

‘There is truth and there are lies. Lies told for power and for profit. Each of us has the duty and responsibility as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to honor our constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth and defeat the lies,’ Biden said.

He acknowledged the deep divides and wounds in the country.

‘This is a great nation. We are good people. Over the centuries, through storm and strife, and peace and at war, we’ve come so far. We still have far to go. We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain,’ he said.

Biden also acknowledged the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans and devastated the American economy.

‘We need all our strength to persevere through this dark winter. We’re entering what may be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus. We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation. One nation. I promise you this. As the bible says, we may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. We will get through this together. Together!,’ he said.

In his first act as president, he asked Americans to join him in a moment of silence to remember those who died from the deadly disease.

‘My first act as president, I’d like to ask you to join me in a moment of silent prayer to remember all those who we lost this past year to the pandemic, those 400,000 fellow Americans, moms, dads, husband, wives, daughters, sons, coworkers. We will honor them by becoming the people and the nation we know we can and should be. Let’s say a silent prayer for those who lost their lives and for those left behind and for our country. Amen,’ he said.

He acknowledged the challenges that face him as he takes office as the nation’s 46th president, including the pandemic, racism, the climate and America’s role in the world.

‘Folks, this is a time of testing. We face an attack on democracy and untruth, a raging virus, growing inequity, sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis, America’s role in the world. Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways, but the fact is, we face them all at once presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we’ve had. Now we’re going to be tested. Are we going to step up, all of us? It’s time for boldness, for there’s so much to do,’ he said.

He closed with another call for unity.

‘My fellow Americans, I close the day where I began, with a sacred oath, before God and all of you. I give you my word, I will always level with you,’ he said.

‘Together we shall write an American story of hope, not fear, of unity, not division, of light, not darkness, a story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness. May this be the story that guides us, the story that inspires us, and the story that tells ages yet to come that we answer the call of history. We met the moment. Democracy and hope, truth and justice did not die on our watch, but thrived,’ he added.

Biden concluded his 20 minutes of remarks with: ‘So, with purpose and resolve, we turn to those tasks of our time, sustained by faith, driven by conviction, devoted to one another and the country we love with all our hearts. May god bless America and may God protect our troops. Thank you, America.’

Joe and Jill Biden greeted their predecessors in the White House with hugs and handshakes as they exited the inauguration platform. The couple shared a particularly long hug with Barack and Michelle Obama, who they were close to in the eight years Biden served as Obama’s vice president.

They also greeted George W. Bush and Laura Bush and Bill and Hillary Clinton. The former first couples will join the Bidens at Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in a show of bipartisan unity.

Biden also exchanged salutes with General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A military honor guard saluted the new president as he departed as ‘Stars & Stripes’ played.

The Bidens held hands as they walked through the Capitol building after the ceremony.


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