Joe Biden began his presidency on Wednesday with the same animating philosophy that guided his campaign: The center can hold.
That’s a big wager. American society is more brittle now than it has been in years. It is unequal, unhealthy and politically radicalized. A pandemic is raging nearly unchecked. The economy is in tatters. The climate is in crisis. Residents of red and blue America can’t even agree on the reality before their eyes, let alone demarcate the common ground they share.
Mr. Biden, now the 46th president, acknowledged all that in his Inaugural Address, calling for comity. “Let’s begin to listen to one another again, hear one another, see one another,” he said. “Show respect to one another. 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.”