On Wednesday — Inauguration Day, former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton united for a video message in which they offered their support for the incoming Biden administration and spoke more broadly about the critical nature of a peaceful transfer of power within the United States. Their video was a part of a television special called “Celebrating America” that aired on Wednesday evening and also featured performers like John Legend and appearances from local community heroes across the country. In their video message, none of the former presidents mentioned Trump, who mostly stayed out of the day’s proceedings on Wednesday — instead, Obama, Bush, and Clinton pointed to a path forward for the United States.
Obama said, in part, as follows:
‘I think inaugurations signal a tradition of a peaceful transfer of power that is over two centuries old… We’ve gotta not just listen to folks we agree with but listen to folks we don’t, and one of my fondest memories of the inauguration was the grace and generosity that President Bush showed me and Laura Bush showed Michelle. It was a reminder that we can have fierce disagreements and yet recognize each other’s common humanity and that as Americans, we have more in common than what separates us.’
Check out the full message below:
Here’s the full segment that just aired of Barack Obama, George W Bush, and Bill Clinton talking about the peaceful transition of power. Not exactly subtle. pic.twitter.com/VPznedd404
— Brandon Wall (@Walldo) January 21, 2021
Obama’s sentiment and the sentiments that the other former presidents shared mirror comments that President Biden himself made in his inaugural address on Wednesday. In short, Biden pledged to work to represent the interests of all Americans while serving as president, not just those who supported his campaign. This basic level of unity seems fundamental, but while in office, former President Trump repeatedly singled out so-called Democrat-run areas for harassment. Confronted with the grim reality of issues like the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump blamed Democrats for high death tolls rather than taking a basic level of responsibility and aiming to help the whole country move forward.
In his inaugural address, Biden said, in part, as follows:
‘To all those who did not support us, let me say this: Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart. And if you still disagree, so be it. That’s democracy… Yet hear me clearly: Disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you: I will be a President for all Americans. I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.’
President Biden has already taken a number of executive actions, and he has more work on the agenda. Already, he has moved to rejoin the Paris climate deal, reversed the Trump administration’s planned exit from the World Health Organization, directed the extension of moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures, and more.