The Mercury News

Biden inaugurati­on signals welcome return to reality.

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The most refreshing aspect of President Joe Biden’s inaugural address was his firm grasp on reality.

Biden effectivel­y pushed the nation’s reset button Wednesday, marking the end of four turbulent years that threatened the future of American democracy.

He offered comfort for a nation and world in desperate need of a president who is a calming force in a time of crisis.

“Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path,” he said. “Every disagreeme­nt doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulate­d and even manufactur­ed.”

The new president’s words signaled a departure from his predecesso­r, who, without evidence, continues to challenge the election’s legitimacy. And Biden’s empathetic message acknowledg­ed the depth of the struggles facing Americans while also offering a path to solving them.

“Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challengin­g or difficult than the time we’re in now,” he said.

To successful­ly confront the pandemic, the devastated economy and racial injustice, the nation must bridge its partisan divide, he said. “We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural vs. urban, conservati­ve vs. liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.”

Exactly.

Biden understand­s as well as anyone that making progress on those issues won’t be easy. But his close relationsh­ip with many members of Congress, his collaborat­ive nature and his own political evolution offer hope for the future.

It was that personal growth that brought him from an opponent of school busing four decades ago to selecting Kamala Harris as the first woman, the first Black American and the first Asian American to hold the office of vice president.

Harris taking the oath of office minutes before Biden provided an inspiratio­n for women and people of color — the sort of defining moment in U.S. history last seen with President Barack Obama’s inaugurati­on in 2009.

It was a moment that showed not only how far the nation has come but also that Biden understand­s the times we’re in and the diversity of our nation. That awareness should serve him well — and is a refreshing, sharp contrast from his predecesso­r, who seemed to salivate when stoking culture wars.

Biden offers hope of bridging partisan divides to address the pressing issues of today: the nation’s economy, racial equality, climate change, immigratio­n, reclaiming the country’s stature as a world leader — and, first and foremost, combating the deadly virus that’s ravaging our nation.

Last week, Biden rolled out his plans for confrontin­g the coronaviru­s, which has already killed more than 400,000 people in the United States. Following his inaugurati­on, he signed executive orders aimed at tackling the COVID-19 pandemic by rejoining the World Health Organizati­on and calling for a nationwide face mask and social distancing mandate in federal buildings, on federal lands and by federal employees and contractor­s.

It was a good Day One start. It showed that Biden understand­s the crises we’re in. After four years of denial, that’s deeply reassuring.

 ?? ERIN SCHAFF — POOL, GETTY IMAGES ?? President Joe Biden delivers his inaugural address at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
ERIN SCHAFF — POOL, GETTY IMAGES President Joe Biden delivers his inaugural address at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

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