Will Biden reunite America?

In his inaugural speech, Joe Biden promised to be "a president for all Americans". He issued a call for unity and urged people to listen to one another. The ceremony in Washington inspired hope in many observers that the new administration will be able to reunite the country. But there are those who are far less optimistic.

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Népszava (HU) /

The promise in itself sends a key message

Treating those who have different views with respect is a key component of democracy, for Népszava:

“In an intact democracy, even those who did not vote for the winner can assert their rights and have hope. This is what Biden's promise is about, that he will not only be his supporters' president, but everyone's president. ... Okay, for now it's just a promise, but by comparison the Hungarian government has essentially declared war on the municipalities where the opposition parties won [the local elections]. ... Trump's supporters now need confirmation that they are also considered to be decent people, as indeed most of them are. They need to properly understand that the victors don't see them as enemies and don't want to walk all over them.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Reconciliation is not in his hands

Biden's reconciliation rhetoric is a lovely message but it doesn't really hold, comments the taz:

“Healing also means taking climate change seriously. Healing also means really tackling racism at long last; not fighting the multi-ethnic, multicultural society but celebrating it and shaping it. For those who voted for Trump's plan in 2016 and 2020 to reinstate and defend the privileges of white Americans, Biden's agenda does not mean healing but sounds like an attack. It's fine for Biden to play the pastor for a few more days and preach love thy neighbour. But he can't control how the other side reacts and he should not base his policy on it either.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Determined to forge agreements

Biden announced a fight against extremism, writes an approving Maurizio Molinari in La Repubblica:

“Biden's inaugural speech signalled his commitment to restoring the strengths of democracy. ... Ultimately it was a manifesto of ideas for overcoming populism. Biden expressed his ideas with great determination. This has its roots in the middle classes from which he comes, in his belief in the nation, which is his hallmark, and in the experience of cementing bipartisan agreements on Capitol Hill. Allies and opponents of the US should take Biden seriously and expect to see this pragmatism leading soon to initiatives and measures that will put their mettle to the test.”

Kleine Zeitung (AT) /

Choice of music shows Biden has understood

The Kleine Zeitung sees the musical accompaniment to the inauguration as a promising sign:

“Lady Gaga sang the official hymn, Jennifer Lopez the unofficial one, and Garth Brooks sang 'Amazing Grace'. ... That high-pathos song about salvation and the power of change after a great misfortune. Brooks performed in cowboy hat, jeans and snakeskin belt on a stage packed with suit-wearing Washington officials. An icon of red, Republican America as the antithesis of the elite political bubble. And Brooks, himself a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, called on everyone to join in the singing at the end. Not just those on Capitol Hill but all those at home and work: 'together as one.' After that he shook hands first with Biden and then Harris. He was the only performer to give Mike Pence the high five and he hugged George W. Bush. It was a peace offering. Biden has understood.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Words are a good start

Even Biden's inaugural speech was the start of reconciliation, NRC Handelsblad coos:

“Biden offered a moment of quiet reflection to honour the 400,000 or more Americans who have died of Covid-19 - an obvious gesture but one that came like a huge relief after Trump's narcissism. He emphasised that the US has faced several major challenges in its history and has only overcome them with unity. And he promised to be there for all Americans - a cliche but an unavoidable cliche. The name Donald Trump was not mentioned once. It takes more than a speech to unite a nation. But it is at least a start when the language of dissolution and intolerance is dispelled by a hopeful vocabulary of unity and reconciliation.”

Webcafé (BG) /

Swinging to the other extreme

Biden must take care not to overwhelm Americans with his new doctrine of tolerance, Webcafé warns:

“The big worry is that the pendulum will simply swing to the other extreme after the paradigm shift. That the new administration's policies will focus solely on minority rights, the fight against discrimination and all the other left-wing issues. ... Now the House of Representatives has decided to use gender-neutral language. There may not be much behind this move, but it sends a signal. The truth is that if the Democrats really want to achieve unity, they will have to focus first and foremost on what made the former president's supporters so angry.”

Deutsche Welle (RO) /

Belligerent anti-conservative rhetoric

While Trump continues to propagate the myth of a stolen election, the Democrats are countering it with a myth of their own, the Romanian service of Deutsche Welle comments worriedly:

“This one combines reality and fiction - namely the fairy tale about internal terrorism and a coup d'état. ... A number of the more clear-headed left-wing liberals are alarmed by the belligerent anti-conservative rhetoric. [Journalist] Glenn Greenwald has taken a clear stand against the orgy of censorship measures and thought policing by the Silicon Valley monopolies and has made no secret of his concern about the 'militarisation' of the US capital, which he says is reminiscent of the Green Zone in Baghdad.”

Les Echos (FR) /

The global epicentre of instability

Tough times are ahead, and not just in the US, warns economist Nouriel Roubini in Les Echos:

“The US is politically, socially and economically so divided that more than four years of sensible government are needed to overcome the damage inflicted. ... In all likelihood the Republicans will do their damnedest to sabotage the new administration, just as they did during Barack Obama's presidency. ... In the months and years to come, the US will probably become the new global epicentre of political and geopolitical instability. America's allies will have to do their best to limit the risks of a return of Trumpism. Its strategic competitors will continue to destabilise the situation with asymmetric conflicts.”