I watched the inauguration of Joe Biden at work, full-screened on my second monitor. My office is in the far corner of the building I work in, away from most everyone else. I play music most days, keeping it low, so it doesn’t drown out my own thoughts and to avoid distracting anyone else. But today I turned the video up a bit.
Sometimes I wonder how interested I would be in politics if Trump hadn’t been the first president I knew as an adult. My liberal mindset started solidifying in college, even before the election, but would I have swung as far left as I am now if I hadn’t been forced to pay attention? If I hadn’t been drawn in, horrified, by blatant corruption, sexism, racism, and hate from the White House? Would I now be as willing to notice my own racism, my own classism, my own biases if I hadn’t had such a high-profile example of it just as I entered adulthood?
It makes me want to gag to give any credit to Trump for how much more engaged I am now than I was in 2016. So instead I’m focusing today on how thrilled I am that Biden and Harris have been sworn in, with Democratic majorities in both houses. I have been proud and relieved to see Biden call out racism and white supremacy explicitly in his first addresses as President-elect and now President. It’s really a low bar, but it’s a step forward. I’m excited to have a President who will take Covid seriously, who will take climate change seriously, who genuinely cares about other people and not just himself and his bottom line.
And y’all – it gave me chills to watch Kamala Harris, our first woman, first Asian-American, and first Black vice president, get sworn in by Justice Sotomayor, only the third woman and first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court. That was just incredible.
Also, if you weren’t able to watch the inauguration live and only have 6 minutes to catch a bit of it later, watch Amanda Gorman’s poem. I didn’t know she existed until today, but I will not forget. Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate, is only 22 and is an incredibly powerful speaker and writer.
Part of me is afraid that with a much more normal President who actually follows the rules, I’ll get complacent in following politics. But I don’t think that will be a big worry. I’m curious to see what a “normal” presidency really looks like. But then again, how “normal” will the next four years be? We’re still in the middle of a global pandemic. Much of America believes the election was illegitimate. And even on the brightest side, neither Biden nor Harris are as progressive as I and others might like them to be.
Still, this is a vast improvement and a breath of fresh air as we emerge from the last four years. I feel relieved, I feel encouraged, and I feel ready to continue trying to leave the world better than I found it in whatever small ways that I can.