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The new administration brings me some much-needed hope

After a tumultuous four years, I view President Joe Biden’s inauguration as a reason to celebrate

<p>Aaron Doss is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.</p>

Aaron Doss is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.

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My roommates and I set up a nine-foot-tall plastic dinosaur, listened to music and celebrated in our backyard the entire evening following President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. I gave myself the day off from delivering for DoorDash and scouring Handshake for a summer internship to enjoy the beautiful weather that seemed to mark the occasion. It felt much deserved.

After a tumultuous four years that culminated in the insurrection at the Capitol building, having a new president in the White House felt like a breath of fresh air. Admittedly, I had been harboring a deep fear that something bad was going to happen during the inauguration, but thankfully I was wrong. 

Vice President Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first woman and woman of color to hold the office of the vice presidency. Amanda Gorman, National Youth Poet Laureate and the youngest U.S. inaugural poet in history, beautifully recited an exceptional poem. Biden painted the picture of a better tomorrow marked by hope and unity in his inauguration speech. We even got a brand new Bernie Sanders meme.

In all of that, no matter your politics, there is something worth celebrating.

Don’t get me wrong — I am not pretending to believe that this new administration will be able to solve all of the nation’s problems and catapult us into some shiny utopian future. People on both the right and the left have their fair share of issues with Biden — issues that are, for the most part, completely warranted.

After all, there are deep-rooted issues plaguing our country that I don’t think anyone can snap a finger and fix in four years. Social media tightens its grip around us and continues to polarize its users in ways most of us don’t really understand. Racist ideologies stain the nation’s entire history and are ingrained in almost all of our structural institutions — and it doesn’t feel like white supremacist groups are going away anytime soon. On top of all that, a global pandemic and climate crisis rage on.

When I think about all of it too much I feel hopeless. The slow and steady pace of change that this country has experienced for its entire existence just doesn't feel apropos with the stakes as high as they are. It feels like no matter who I vote for, the rapid and radical efforts we need will never make it to the Oval Office.

But in his first week in office alone, Biden signed over 30 executive orders. He terminated the federal government’s use of private prisons in an effort to eliminate the profit incentives that contribute to mass incarceration, which disproportionately affects people of color. He ended former President Donald Trump’s transgender ban in the military. He strengthened former President Barack Obama’s DACA program to protect undocumented immigrants who arrived as children from deportation. He rejoined the Paris Agreement in an effort to prioritize environmental sustainability. He rejoined the World Health Organization and issued stricter mask mandates in order to fight the pandemic in a way his predecessor appeared to be unwilling to.

I know that these executive orders won’t solve all of our problems, but seeing all of these changes personally sparked a bit of hope inside me.

We all heard Biden heavily emphasize that “unity is the path forward” in his inauguration speech, but healing such a polarized country won’t be easy. If he can’t, this promise could potentially become his biggest failure. But at least he is actively trying to unite us rather than divide us.

Our country continues to be divided, disappointing, shameful and outright messy in many ways, and I’m sure that Biden will do 100 things in his administration to let Americans down. Regardless of all that, there’s a fresh scent in the air. It smells of decency with a hint of hope, and that is something we could all use in these troubling times.

So I spent inauguration night in my backyard with people I love while having drinks, sharing laughs and playing cornhole — oh, and finally feeling safe enough to follow the official POTUS account on Twitter.

We can never stop working to move this country forward, but at times it may just be appropriate to celebrate the little things.

Aaron Doss is a Life columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com

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