Just two weeks after the Capitol was ravaged by conspiracy-addled Trump supporters, Joe Biden was inaugurated into office. His speech brought a voice of clarity to the murky political proceedings that have been the last four years. It spoke of unity in spite of difference and of positive change in spite of the U.S.’s history. Biden acknowledged America’s imperfections and actually planted them deep within his message,
“I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real, but I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal, that we are all created equal, and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart.”
This refreshing change of colour in the oval office comes as a great relief—a moment many have been waiting for since Donald Trump was first given keys to the White House four years ago. And while I am also relieved to have a presidential voice calling for unity rather than division, I am also nervous of people hanging up their hats and retiring to the sofa now that someone else can carry on their voice.
While, I’m resistant to praise Donald Trump for anything, I will say he managed to be so hated that he motivated an entire generation into protesting his presidency. Be it the Women’s March, Not My President Day, or the recent BLM protests, Trump’s political shadow has been a catalyst for many social justice movements. In fact, his ideologies were so heavily resisted that protests even began in other countries. The Philippines, Brussels, and Poland all staged protests in response to Trump visiting their country. I cannot even begin to understand the self-admiration you have to possess to be able to persevere through an entire country not wanting you to be within their borders.
While Trump’s divisive rhetoric crippled America’s political landscape and poisoned any sort of constructive cross-party development, it did solidify and reinforce left-wing democrats in their pursuit of justice and equality.
Now, before you get the wrong idea, let me say that I’m as relieved as any peaceful, relatively sane person that Trump is out of office. However, keep in mind that the problems that perpetuated Trump’s power are still lurking. Just because he’s no longer driving the bus doesn’t mean we’re not running out of fuel.
Those who support his ideology still cast their ballots and share their voice. It is important we do the same. News outlets that seek to antagonize their opposition or muddy the waters of political debates are still printing their stories and using their power to do so. Trump himself, while restricted from various social media websites, still remains a powerful voice in America.
Biden’s election might have felt like we crossed the finish line, but we just qualified to race. As Biden said in his speech, “[t]he battle is perennial and victory is never assured.”
Democracy isn’t passive. It’s not something we place on the shoulders of elected officials or protect once or twice a year when it’s trendy. You don’t clock out of your politics or leave your ideologies at the door.
Be certain we have a long way to go, and it will not always be clear where it is we are going. We will lose our way more than once and perhaps walk the same road twice. Yet such is the path forward, and we must continue to work towards a better future.