After being sworn in as the 46th President of the United States Wednesday afternoon, Joe Biden made national unity the central theme of his inaugural address, calling for an end to the “uncivil war” that he believes broke out under President Trump.
The inauguration came two weeks after a mob incited by former president Donald Trump breached the Capitol and forced lawmakers to evacuate, interrupting the certification of the Electoral College results. Trump did not attend the inauguration, but former vice president Mike Pence was present at the ceremony.
In his speech, President Biden warned of “a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.”
“We can treat each other with dignity and respect,” Biden continued. “We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage.”
The president also referenced the riot at the Capitol, saying that such actions would not halt the workings of the U.S. government.
“Here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground,” Biden said. “It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.”
Biden then called for an end to an “uncivil war” between various groups of Americans.
“We must end this uncivil war, that pits red against blue, rural vs. urban, conservative vs. liberal. We can do this, if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts,” Biden said.
The president assumed office amid an ongoing pandemic and massive economic dislocation, with over 400,000 American deaths from COVID-19.