Joseph R. Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States today, 20 January 2021 and Kamala D. Harris was sworn as Vice President.
This inauguration took place against the backdrop of a tense political and social climate in America with COVID-19 deaths reaching 400,000, a second impeachment of the now-former President Donald Trump, the violent storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters, and recent Black Lives Matter Protests against racial injustice.
Observers in the region are paying particular attention to the potential impact Biden’s presidency will have on the region regarding US tensions with Iran, its policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict, relations with Gulf States and Israel, as well as its handling of human rights issues.
Biden, who is the second Catholic President of the United States, was sworn in by the also Catholic Chief Justice John Roberts, and Harris, who is the first woman, first person Black person, and first person of South Asian descent to hold the office of the Vice President, was sworn in by the first Latina Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
The inauguration was sparsely attended due to health risks and draconian security measures, but former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with her two fellow former First Ladies Laura Bush and Michelle Obama were in attendance. Former President Trump and his family did not attend, departing from tradition, but former Vice President Mike Pence and former Second Lady Karen Pence were present.
Artist Lady Gaga performed the National Anthem with additional musical performances by Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks.
Biden – who previously served as Barack Obama’s Vice President for eight years, and Delaware Senator for 36 years before that – won 50.6 percent of the votes, securing more than 290 electoral college votes in the elections held in November of 2020. The historic race to Biden’s victory saw him win more votes than any other presidential candidate in US history, breaking former Obama’s 2008 record – a result that was disputed by Trump and his supporters in spite of no evidence corroborating the claims.