President Biden masterfully used the pageantry of the day to shatter the self-asserted Trumpian monopoly on patriotism.
Genius isn’t a commonly used descriptor of President Biden, but it’s an apt word to describe Biden’s handling of the Inauguration. Having bid his time with preternatural forbearance in dignified silence for over two months while the incumbent president took virtually every measure imaginable, including calling upon his so-called “patriots,” to undo the results of a free and fair election, on January 20 Joe Biden finally had his opportunity to articulate (and model) his own view of what patriotism means in the United States.
Through the rhetoric of his inaugural address reinforced by music and poetry and symbolic displays, President Biden masterfully used the pageantry of the day to shatter the self-asserted Trumpian monopoly on patriotism. Not only did Biden proffer a compelling humane alternative to Trump’s garish cartoon patriotism, but more importantly he wrested from Trump’s devotees the sole authority to proclaim who counts as a patriot. One might have predicted that twice-elected President Obama, our first African-American president, would have forever embedded into our collective consciousness a more inclusive understanding of patriotism and Americanness, but Trumpism, in its manic repudiation of all things Obama, divided the population into “America First” patriots and those who would destroy the country.
How satisfying it is, then, that President Obama’s two-term presidential understudy, a candidate who was propelled into office by the brilliant and tireless efforts of African-Americans whose political careers took hold in the Obama era, returned to America’s grandest stage to reinstall, and hopefully forever cement, Obama’s more democratic, inclusive, and humane version of patriotism.