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New hope for democracy

President Joe Biden holds a face mask as he speaks about the coronavirus in the State Dining Room of the White House on Thursday (Photograph by Alex Brandon/AP)

Much of the world watched the changing of the guard in Washington, with the departure of a man who in four years left America so deeply divided that the atmosphere was charged with bitter hatred similar to that which was at the centre of the civil war waged by the Confederate army to halt the move to make the land of America free for every citizen and include those with a different skin colour.

Those human beings who were being rejected as citizens, were mostly former enslaved Africans, and that started a long painful journey for the nation to eradicate a bitter element that even today remains a threat to democracy in a country still divided politically and racially.

After so many years since that civil war, which nearly broke the Union, it was nothing short of shocking to witness in the year 2021 people, obsessed with hatred and rage, storming the Capitol Building in Washington. But even more shocking was that their action was sparked by the former President, Donald Trump, using words that history will record as encouraging his supporters to commit violent insurrection in support of his efforts to remain in power.

While there will always be people who are difficult to convince that Tuesday follows Monday, truth will always be the most powerful tool to combat misguided and maliciously false information designed to ignite a portion of the country to reject truth in order to support a leader who will be remembered as one who was without empathy, or concern for the people of America as he focused on whatever was in his personal interest.

While his diehard supporters rejected any criticism of Trump’s style of government, it is no secret that the record clearly shows he failed miserably in dealing with the pandemic, which has taken more than 400,000 lives, and is yet to be brought under control.

The record will also show Trump’s reluctance to condemn extremist groups who promote objectives that the Confederates were so obsessed with that they chose war to preserve a way of life that denied true freedom for former slaves. While that war ended in bitter defeat, the twisted motives of bigotry were never extinguished.

Much of the nation was on edge leading up to the inauguration of Joe Biden as the new president and Kamala Harris as vice-president because of numerous threats by those who were still refusing to accept the election result, even though alleged fraud was never uncovered . Add to that, the former president had already made history by being impeached twice.

Officials took no chances and security was so tight that Washington resembled a war zone, with the Capitol Building surrounded by heavily armed troops. Not the way it is usually done, but, with the pandemic and threats, there was little choice.

With that, and all that has occurred in recent days, it should at least cause Americans and people around the world to pause and think deeply about values that mean the difference between positive attitudes for the good of the people and negative elements that lead to people living in utter fear as a daily experience.

This is why it is very important for truth to be told by the free press, and for those in leadership positions to have young people informed about facts moving forward. There will never be an end to conflicting views, which is a key part of democracy. However, there should never be a time when disagreements are turned into violence, to the point where criminal conduct aimed at hurting people is seen by some as justified.

The new administration under President Joe Biden has pledged to work towards healing deep wounds of divisiveness that affect millions. In his first speech before the nation, after taking the oath of office making him the 46th president, he emphasised that racial injustice, which has haunted the nation for so many years will not be allowed to continue. Biden made it clear that people wanted more than words in tackling the problem.

Although the transition ceremony took place with the pandemic still raging, along with security concerns after the violent attack on the Capitol two weeks ago in which five people died, there was a spirit of hope in the air as the same building this time became America’s starting point for turning the page, and trying to regroup as a nation fully capable of moving to greater heights in serving the people, and reconnecting with the world.

Biden pulled no punches in noting that the task ahead would be far from easy, and that success would depend on how well the country can unite in meeting the challenges. Although nothing will change overnight, most observers felt the new administration is a breath of fresh air and represents new hope for democracy. The country must now build on that.

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Published January 23, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated January 22, 2021 at 1:54 pm)

New hope for democracy

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