Becoming the first president in twenty-four years to unseat an incumbent, President Joe Biden addressed a divided nation in his inaugural address with calls for unity. Breaking new ground with numerous diverse cabinet picks and the first female vice president, the incoming Biden Administration has had many “newsworthy” moments prior to the inauguration. With pleas for tolerance and acceptance being repeated most throughout Biden’s inaugural address, what was not said regarding the large elephant in the room might have overshadowed many of Biden’s statements. That large elephant being Donald Trump.
Becoming the first president in American history to have an impending impeachment trial following his departure from office, President Donald Trump decided to skip the inauguration in favor of returning to his Florida home. As of yet, President Biden has yet to make any explicit remarks regarding his favor towards impeaching Trump, but it must be questioned as to whether the trial will hasten or halt the “unity” that Biden claims to strive for.
While not expressly the fault of President Biden, the optics of having the prior President absent from the inauguration did make Biden’s calls for unity seem strained. If Biden is to truly achieve unity and court some of the seventy-two million Americans who voted for President Trump, a greater emphasis on compromise rather than unity may be his smartest move. Although not explicitly mentioned within his address, Biden made many subtle jabs at the outgoing administration, and following his arrival at the White House, Biden dismantled many of the Trump-era policies through executive orders.
With Democrat control of the House, Senate, and White House, it is up to Biden as to whether to curtail or enable the more left-leaning members of his party to pass contentious legislation. Unlike President Obama’s sweeping 2008 victory, President Biden does not possess the public mandate required to justify eliminating the filibuster or adding seats to the Supreme Court. While it is certainly within the Democrats power to pursue these policies, the Biden Administration will need to choose between compromise or forced unity.