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Inauguration Day 2021: The words I’d write for President Biden

01 / 19 / 2021

There’s ONE part of Joe Biden’s speech that I’ll be listening for tomorrow. And if I could write it for him, it would sound something like this:

“I want to take a moment to speak directly to my fellow Americans who did not support me in last year’s election. And I could not possibly mean this more sincerely. 

Although most folks may know me as a talker, I’m also a darn good listener. It’s just the way I was raised. And let me tell ya, when you run for president for a full year, you hear everything. 

It’s not the praise you hear that sticks with you — it’s the smart questions that folks challenge you with about your ideas. About your approach. About where you’re proposing to take the country. And how. And I have listened.  

The United States has been a battle of ideas since its very inception. We have had opposing philosophies playing out in our politics since before we even ratified our Constitution. 

Those philosophies ultimately grew into our country’s two major political parties. For nearly fifty years, I have served in government under the banner of one of those two parties. But there has never been a single moment during all of that time where I came to believe that one side of the aisle had all of the answers. To do so would not only be illogical, it would be arrogant. 

Now, I understand that a whole lot of Americans are feeling terribly discouraged at this time in our history. Not just discouraged, angry. For a whole lot of reasons. And no matter how different my life experiences have been from yours, I promise you, I understand how it feels to have life slap you cold in the face. Sometimes more than once. Sometimes many times. 

But I also know, from my own experience working with countless Americans from every political stripe and background, that we CAN make things better. A lot better. Not perfect. But one, whole, hell of a lot better. 

Just two weeks ago, I watched a horrific and heartbreaking thing happen to this building behind me that’s meant so much to our country. This institution that’s housed the lifeblood of our democracy. The People’s House. 

But I do not think — LET ME REPEAT, I DO NOT THINK — that the people who committed those acts are in any way representative of the overwhelming majority of Americans who didn’t vote for me. In fact, I know they weren’t. I’ve seen too much good in every corner of this country for far too long to believe anything different. 

The last thing I want to say about the differences of opinion we have at this fraught political moment in our nation’s history is this: Please never underestimate the “art of the possible.” The art of the possible not only defines the very basis of our politics and government — it also defines OUR LIVES. For if we buried our heads in the sand every time an unexpected challenge popped up, we would have no forward movement. We would go nowhere. We’d either stand in place, or worse, retreat a little bit further each time we tossed in the towel.  

So the one thing that I ask of all of my fellow Americans on this auspicious morning in front of our nation’s Capitol is this: Let us see what’s possible. 

Let’s see where we agree and where we disagree, and then, let’s try to bridge the divides where we can. And when we can’t, let’s start fresh on the next challenge. Let’s turn the page, with the collective strength and common spirit that we all feel for America.  

We’ve done it before. Time and time again in the United States, we’ve done it. And it IS absolutely POSSIBLE for us to do it again. I’m counting on it. I’m betting on it. 

I’m betting on us.”