“So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodnight” or better yet…just get the fuck out. Donald Trump will be leaving the White House for hopefully the last time this morning, and his reign of terror will be over. He has done everything he could to destroy this country, to take away hard-fought civil rights and civil liberties from American minorities. He has destroyed our relationships with our allies and made the United States the laughingstock of the world. He ignored the pandemic, which has led to the death of 400,000 Americans, more than anywhere else in the world, with his ineptitude and inaction. Now, the disastrous and deadly four years of his presidency are over. For the most part, Donald Trump quit being president after the election. He focused not on the final days of his presidency but conspiracy theories about a stolen election, inciting the destruction of democracy, and probably most important for him, playing golf.
On November 3, 2020, the election of Joe Biden with more votes than any other president in history was a victory for “We the People.” Biden pledges to be a President who seeks not to divide but to unify. The restoration of the soul of the United States begins today at noon. Democrats have won the presidency, they have retained control of the House of Representatives, and they have taken control of the Senate, even if it’s by the slimmest of margins.
Biden brought together the broadest and most diverse coalition in history. He was elected with the support of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, progressives, moderates, conservatives, people young and old, urban, suburban, and rural Americans, gay, straight, transgender individuals, and people of all races: white, black, Latino, Asian, and Native American. Biden will be a president for all Americans, not just those who supported him. He has pledged to be blind to red and blue partisanship. Biden will work to make the promise of the country real for everybody — no matter their race, their ethnicity, their faith, their identity, or their disability.
Biden is unlike any politician I have ever studied. Many politicians are very self-centered and ambitious. Too many are like Trump and have an emotional void that needs to be filled with the praise and the devotion of others. With Biden, his drive and ambition come from his empathy. Americans often choose the opposite of the previous leader, and no one could be more of the opposite of Donald Trump than Joe Biden. I am not claiming that Biden has been unambitious in his career; he has wanted to be president since he was a kid. However, Biden is a man known for his humility and realism that resulted from his upbringing and the lessons learned from a series of devastating personal tragedies. I firmly believe that Biden is right for this moment in our history. He is a politician driven not by a cause but by his desire to ensure a fair shot, stability, and the two most intimate of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms: freedom from want and from fear.
With Biden comes some extraordinary people. Kamala Harris will make history today as the first woman, first Black woman, first woman of South Asian descent, and first daughter of immigrants ever elected as Vice President. As Biden’s website says, “It’s long overdue, and we’re reminded [today] of all those who fought so hard for so many years to make this happen. But once again, America has bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice.”
Though we do not elect the First Lady and Second Gentleman, we are getting the service of two people who could not be more opposite of the counterparts they are replacing. As an educator myself, today is a great day for America’s educators. We will have one of our own in the White House, and Jill will make a great First Lady. Articulate and elegant, Jill Biden replaces a nude fashion model who could barely speak English. Melania Trump hated and made a mockery of the role of the First Lady. Jill Biden will restore respectability to the role of First Lady. Doug Emhoff will become the first Second Gentleman and the first Jewish spouse of a U.S. Vice President. He is a distinguished visiting professor at Georgetown University Law Center, meaning our First Lady and Second Gentleman will both be educators. In his role as Second Gentleman, Emhoff plans to focus on equal access to justice and legal representation.
Furthermore, for the first time, a president’s administration will be the most diverse in history. Biden pledged to create a Cabinet that looked like America. He stated, “I’m going to keep my commitment that the administration, both in the White House and outside in the Cabinet, is going to look like the country.” Biden’s nominations are historic will set records in diversity. If confirmed, his nominees will make history as the most diverse group ever to lead America’s federal agencies. The twenty-four-person Cabinet includes thirteen men and eleven women, and, according to Biden, “more than a dozen history-making appointments, including the first woman secretary of treasury, the first African American defense secretary, the first openly gay Cabinet member, and the first Native American Cabinet secretary.”
The United States is at one of its most critical moments in history. As Biden said in his victory speech on November 7, 2020:
America has always been shaped by inflection points — by moments in time where we’ve made hard decisions about who we are and what we want to be.
Lincoln in 1860 — coming to save the Union.
FDR in 1932 — promising a beleaguered country a New Deal.
JFK in 1960 — pledging a New Frontier.
And twelve years ago — when Barack Obama made history — and told us, “Yes, we can.”
We stand again at an inflection point.
We have the opportunity to defeat despair and to build a nation of prosperity and purpose.
We can do it. I know we can.
I’ve long talked about the battle for the soul of America.
We must restore the soul of America.
Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses.
It is time for our better angels to prevail.
With four years of disaster and deteriorating diplomatic relations, the whole world will be watching what Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and the United States do in this moment. They will watch to see if we will get past this “inflection point.” They will watch to see whether Biden will be able to heal the “soul of the nation” and deal with a bitterly divided country. The world will also be watching to see if Trump will continue to be a thorn in the side of American democracy or if he will receive the punishment he deserves for his crimes. Time will tell, but I believe that we are at a point “Of History and Hope.”