The chairman of the local Democratic Party said President Joe Biden’s inaugural address was “the right message by the right person for the time.”
Biden pledged healing and urged unity as he took the oath of office Wednesday amid a pandemic, economic turmoil and civil unrest.
“The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded,” Biden said.
Sworn in minutes earlier was Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman in one of the nation’s top two offices. She’s also the first Black vice president and first of Indian descent.
Monroe City Councilman Norman Garrett has for years been the chairman of the Walton County Democratic Party. The party remains a decided minority locally — 75% of the vote in the November presidential race went for Republican incumbent Donald Trump — but Georgia swung narrowly for Biden. It was the first Democratic win in the state since 1992.
Biden carried Georgia narrowly, by fewer than 12,000 out of nearly 5 million cast.
Garrett noted that Biden is asking all Americans, even those who didn’t vote for him, to give him a chance.
“He also spoke to the divisiveness of the last four years as well as the challenges facing America now, and in the future,” Garrett said.
“The divide won’t disappear overnight, and with Americans facing a deadly pandemic, a struggling economy, an overtaxed health care system, threats from climate change and unresolved social inequality, Biden has his work cut out for him.”
But, Garrett noted both houses of Congress also are in Democratic control, which should give Biden a chance to achieve his goals — especially, Garrett said, a coordinated response to COVID-19.
“This response will have a positive effect on the economy and pave the way for real health care reform,” Garrett said. “With the executive orders issued his first day, he demonstrated his commitment to battling climate change.”
Biden signed 17 executive orders and other actions in the first hours of his term. He rejoined the Paris Agreement, an international consensus on climate change the Trump administration left.
Biden also ordered the use of masks and social distancing on federal property. The president reversed Trump’s ban on travel to the U.S. from several predominantly Muslim nations and ended construction of the wall at the Mexican border.
Biden also extended a moratorium on evictions and asked federal agencies to continue their hold on evictions on government-backed mortgages. He also paused student loan interest and principal payments through Sept. 30.
Biden, 78, is the nation’s oldest president. He was Barack Obama’s vice president and served for three decades in the Senate.
“We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do,” Biden said. He takes office during a pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 Americans — “as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II,” he said.
Biden called for “unity” multiple times.
“I ask every American to join me in this cause — uniting to fight the foes we face,” he said.
Biden promised the nation “will get through this together,” though warned the darkest days of the COVID-19 crisis may loom.
Two weeks earlier, on the inaugural stage, protesters tried to disrupt the joint session of Congress that confirmed Biden’s victory over Trump. An attack on the Capitol halted the session, but Biden noted it wasn’t successful
“It did not happen, it will never happen — not today, not tomorrow, not ever, not ever,” he said.
Still, he urged cooperation.
“I promise I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as those who did,” he said.
Biden received the most votes of any presidential candidate, but Trump received the second-most.
Trump left Washington earlier on Wednesday morning and did not attend Biden’s inauguration. Former President Jimmy Carter, 96, of Georgia, also did not attend due to concerns about COVID-19.
The other living former presidents, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama, were on hand to witness the transfer of power, as was Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence.