President Joe Biden called for unity and the end to the “uncivil war” between political parties in his inaugural address Wednesday afternoon.

“This is democracy’s day,” Biden began. “A day of history and hope of renewal and resolve through a crucible for the ages. America has been tested anew and America has risen to the challenge. Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy. The people, the will of the people, has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded.”

He added, “We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”

Biden addressed the violent riot that occurred at the Capitol two weeks prior, saying that on the very ground where protesters “sought to shake the Capitol’s very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible.”

He acknowledged the unique circumstances under which he is stepping into office: in the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has ravished the nation, killing more than 400,000; unemployment has soared and hateful, discriminatory rhetoric has become louder under the Trump administration.

“The cry for survival comes from planet itself, a cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear,” Biden said. “And now a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat. To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: unity.”

During his campaign, Biden pledged to act as a uniting force — both between political parties and within the fracturing Democratic Party itself.

He continued to underscore the importance of unity in his speech saying: “With unity, we can do great things, important things. We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus. We can reward, reward work and rebuild the middle class and make health care secure for all. We can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world.”

“I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days,” he added. “I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real, but I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial and victory is never assured.”

Biden noted that “we have never, ever, ever, ever failed in America when we’ve acted together,” and that the country must work to eliminate the hyper-polarization of politics that is prevalent today.

“Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. 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,” Biden said, referring to the Trump campaign’s efforts to subvert the presidential election by falsely accusing the results of being “rigged.”

Biden went on to say he would be a president for all Americans — regardless of how they voted, and offered a moment of silent prayer to remember the lives lost to the pandemic.

He concluded his speech with a promise to always defend democracy and the Constitution.

“Together we shall write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity, not division. Of light, not darkness,” he said. “A story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness. May this be the story that guides us. The story that inspires us and the story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history. We met the moment. Democracy and hope, truth and justice did not die on our watch, but thrived. That America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world.”

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