A story from President Biden’s past came to mind Wednesday as the words of his inaugural address rang out across Washington, D.C.’s cold, empty, militarized Mall, just two weeks after a mob of MAGA zealots bent on stopping Congress from certifying his election swarmed the steps where Biden now stood, and invaded the seat of American government.
“Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause: the cause of democracy,” Biden declared. “I understand that many of my fellow Americans view the future with fear and trepidation. I understand they worry about their jobs. I understand, like my dad, they lie in bed at night, staring at the ceiling, wondering, can I keep my health care? Can I pay my mortgage? Thinking about their families, about what comes next. I promise you, I get it. But the answer is not to turn inward.”
Instead, Biden continued, “we must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal.” And, he promised, “we can do this, if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts. If we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes, as my mom would say, just for a moment.”
It was a call, above all else, for maturity.