With Trump gone, Biden talks up the need for unity and renewal after four years of bitter division.
Pledging to bring a new spirit of unity to politics, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, protected by a vast cordon of National Guard troops and police that indicated just how difficult his mission will be after four years of chaos and rage sown by his predecessor, Donald Trump.
Trump, abandoned by longtime allies such as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (who opted to attend church with Biden on Inauguration Day), slunk out of Washington a few hours before the inauguration. Mirroring the only other one-term impeached president, Andrew Johnson, Trump became the first president in more than 150 years to skip his successor’s inauguration. The night before, he sent out a videotaped valedictory in which he touted his administration as one of the greatest in American history but—finally—conceded the presidency to Biden.
In his inaugural address, which outgoing Vice President Mike Pence as well as McConnell attended, Biden’s main theme was the restoration of some degree of unity, “one of the most elusive things of all in a democracy,” as he called it.