For the past four years we held our breath. We never knew what simple idiocy or really scary thing we would wake up to in the morning. Well as of noon on Wednesday we could all exhale. Joe Biden is in the White House and Kamala Harris is vice president.
That doesn’t mean all the havoc Trump caused will disappear. We are keenly aware that because of the 25,000 National Guard troops stationed in D.C. and others in every state capital. We see the gates with barbed wire around the Capitol and the National Mall is closed to the public.
It will take years for what Trump has inflicted on the United States and the world to be overcome. His legacy of hatred and destruction is wide and deep. But with Biden and Harris we come together and begin to build back our society and rejoin the world of nations.
These are both very difficult and very exciting times. We are facing a ruined economy and the coronavirus pandemic. We see domestic terrorists and militias threaten our leaders in D.C. and state capitals. We have breadlines and homelessness as we have not seen since the Great Depression. Washington, D.C. was divided into red and green zones for the inauguration as if it were Baghdad.
But there are also positive signs for some exciting things to come. We have inaugurated the first woman, a woman of color, as vice president of the United States. We have seen Joe Biden name a Cabinet of incredible people who represent both the very best and the diversity of our nation. Biden, who at the stroke of noon on Jan. 20, 2021, became President Biden has announced a $1.9 trillion stimulus package to assist Americans who are suffering because of the pandemic. President Biden is committed to signing a series of Executive Orders on his first day in office to turn around some of the vilest policies of the Trump administration, which impacted the LGBTQ+ community, women, African Americans and other minorities and the fight to protect our environment.
He has committed to strong management of the federal effort to fight the coronavirus pandemic promising to oversee a revitalized and larger vaccine distribution program. He committed to a federal public education program to encourage more people to take the vaccine in Black and brown communities, which have less trust in the vaccine.
President Biden will once again ensure federal policy makers rely on science to make decisions. He announced the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will be elevated to Cabinet level. To highlight his commitment to see the United States lead in the fight on climate change for the first time his National Climate Advisor will have an office in the West Wing.
We know these steps are only the beginning as we once again rejoin the world of nations. Trump with his disastrous ‘America First’ policies set the United States back decades in how we are viewed around the world. Biden and Harris know it will take more than window dressing, rather actual policy and action, to regain our reputation around the world. It won’t be easy but I have confidence in them and all Americans. Biden has promised to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and to rejoin the coalition to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. He promised to rejoin and actively participate in the World Health Organization and other international organizations, which the Trump administration has either left or stopped participating in. He has named a Secretary of State who understands how to coordinate with and support our allies not work against them.
Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package addresses a number of issues, including raising the minimum wage to $15, providing stimulus checks to additional students and families with undocumented members. Each part of the package addresses a specific need such as reopening schools and helping states and cities meet their budgets. Everyone in our diverse country can see themselves helped by this legislation.
For the past four years each morning we would wake up afraid to see what Trump had tweeted during the night. He made policy by tweet, including banning transgender people from serving in the military and doing away with the Affordable Care Act.
So as of noon on Jan. 20 we are finally able to stop holding our breath and exhale, knowing things will be better.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.
Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights