On January 20, 2021, Vice President Joe Biden took the oath of office as the 46th president of the United States. He became the oldest new president inaugurated since Ronald Reagan in 1989, and was 78 years, two months and one day old at the time of his swearing-in, which was administered by Supreme Court Justice John Roberts. Biden’s long political career includes 36 years as a senator from Delaware and eight years serving as President Barack Obama’s vice president. His legacy as a foreign policy expert and skilled negotiator have been widely recognized.
But he also has a deep understanding of the challenges of domestic policy and an ability to build coalitions across the aisle. During his tenure as Senate majority leader, Biden led the passage of several major civil rights reforms, including laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and he worked with Democrats to overcome a series of tough-on-crime bills that some criticized as contributing to America’s massive prison overcrowding problem.
In his inaugural address, Biden promised a national reckoning on racial injustice and promised to use his executive authority to advance democratic values. He made a point of honoring Vice President Kamala Harris, who was the first woman and person of color to become second in line to the presidency. He also promised to make it harder for people with felony convictions to obtain jobs.
He has also promised to tackle the problem of gun violence in America, a major issue that has been largely overlooked by Trump’s administration. He has endorsed a proposal to require background checks on all gun purchases, and has signaled his willingness to work with congressional Republicans on bipartisan solutions.
Biden has promised to strengthen America’s military, increase aid to Africa and Latin America and promote democracy around the world. He has also vowed to rethink the nation’s immigration policies, and has signed a number of executive orders aimed at undoing some of the more controversial policies of the Trump administration, including canceling the country’s withdrawal from the Paris climate change accord and reinstating protections for immigrants brought to the country illegally.
During his inaugural address, Biden praised the hard-working members of his administration and emphasized that they are all “family.” He told them to be honest with him and not waste their time or energy on trivial matters. And he warned them that if he hears any of his appointees talk down to other staff members or treat people with disrespect, they will be fired on the spot. That was a clear warning to anyone who would challenge him, in stark contrast with Trump’s own approach to leadership.