Root for President Biden - and for America!

Jan 21, 2021, 11:26 AM

 Sometimes it seems America doesn’t need a president right now so much as a messiah.

The expectations, the demands, the silent hopes and the wailing prayers heaped on the merely mortal man set to become America’s 46th president today cannot be overstated.

When Joe Biden places his hand on the Bible and swears his oath to the Constitution, he’ll do so before a sparse crowd in a locked-down national capital fortified by tens of thousands of National Guard troops that is more befitting of a fearful police state than a confident beacon of democracy.

He will not walk streets lined by jubilant Americans waving American flags. He won’t even have enjoyed the customary escort from the White House to the Capitol by the sitting president and first lady, a powerful symbol of peaceful transition of power that Donald Trump has eschewed for an early, face-saving escape to Mar-A-Lago.

America, still gripped in fear, horror and disbelief at the violent insurrection at our nation’s Capitol earlier this month fueled by lies and seditious incitement, is simultaneously adrift in a sea of other troubles: a deadly global pandemic that has claimed 400,000 lives and cost countless jobs, a national reckoning on race and justice and catastrophic global warming that has gone unmitigated for far too long.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Americans are asking Biden and the team he has assembled, beginning with history-making Vice President Kamala Harris, to save us from the dire path we’ve been on: to save our jobs and our lives, and to help us recover our lost unity, decency and fairness, our sense of opportunity, our faith in justice and American institutions, our standing in the world, our patriotism and even protect Earth itself. .

It’s a tall order, even for one of the most experienced presidents ever elected.

With that backdrop, Americans will not and cannot greet our new president on this Inauguration Day with the outstretched arms of hope and optimism that welcomed many predecessors. We come to him, a proud nation hobbled by insecurity, humbled by disillusion, grasping for something some of us aren’t even sure exists anymore: true leadership — bold yet selfless, strong yet dignified, incisive yet compassionate.

Leadership that does not hearken back to some monolithic myth of greatness, nor even the more benign desire for exceptionalism. We know now, if we did not before, that Americans are not exceptional. We have shown ourselves to be human, like any other people, susceptible to lies and propaganda, to the charms of over-promising populists, to the primal pull of authoritarian assurance. Fortunately, we’ve also proved ourselves to be capable of recovery, and of pulling back from the edge.

What we seek today is the same thing we’ve been seeking for more than two centuries: the dutiful striving toward America’s promise, which is indeed exceptional: a government for the people, by the people, a land of opportunity and yet, in the words of John Adams recalled countless times in the past four years, a nation of laws, not men.

Biden has vowed to be that leader, to unify this divided nation, to work urgently to address the compendium of crises facing those who voted for him and those who decidedly did not.

So, why should we, in this moment of crisis, temper our pessimism, set aside our bitterness, and put our faith in a lifelong politician who has demonstrated an ability to work across the aisle and get things done but has no previous track record for miracle-working? Why should we get behind him today, regardless of party or ideology, and offer support, even prayers, for his success?

Because this is America. And he is our president. And that’s how it is done.

It’s the same hope extended to Donald Trump, including from this editorial board, when he was sworn in as president. We criticized him when he failed to live up to our expectations, but never stopped hoping he would do the right thing for America. We never forgot our nation was in his hands. We know how that story ended.

Now begins a new story. Biden is the man that 81 million Americans chose in a free and fair election to lead this nation through unprecedented challenges.

Our hopes for him are not just obligatory. They have been earned. With every Cabinet nominee who exemplifies a commitment to integrity, experience and diversity. With every well-placed priority, from jump-starting the nation’s coronavirus vaccine rollout to offering millions of immigrants a path to citizenship. With every speech that answered hate with resolve and unity.

The day after self-proclaimed “patriots” raided the U.S. Capitol in a froth of rage, entitlement and delusion, Biden held a press conference to denounce the violence but also to perform the routine task of announcing his Justice Department nominees.

He imparted a moving message to all of them:

“I want to be clear to those who lead this department who you will serve: You won’t work for me. You are not the president’s or the vice president’s lawyer. Your loyalty is not to me,” Biden said. “It’s to the law, the Constitution, the people of this nation.”

Words we have not heard for four years. Words that affirm a commitment to American principles, not partisan allegiances. Words that we will hold Biden to in the days and years to come.

America, after a long, hard fight, has chosen its president. And now each American must make one more choice today. To hope for his success or to root for his failure. Either way, our nation is in his hands.

Source: Houston Chronicle