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President Biden’s quest to make politics boring again began successfully

There’s nothing flashy about civility. President Biden can get us back to boring politics — as it should be

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President Joe Biden points after he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

Greg Nash, Associated Press

President Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony was everything one would expect. With only a small crowd in attendance, it was simple and beautiful. It was patriotic and stirring. His inauguration address was centered on hope. 

After four years of political hoopla, it was a breath of fresh air. For the first time in some time, a political event of this scale in Washington was — need I say it? — boring.

President Biden certainly played the part of a newly sworn-in president in a divided country. He spent his speech decrying racism and division, and he invited us to offer a silent prayers for the victims of COVID-19 and their families. He spoke openly about our nation’s challenges, but offered hope for the future. “To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America, it requires so much more than words. It required the most elusive of all things in a democracy: unity.”

Biden and his advisers know America well. We are craving something, anything, aside from divisive politics. An August 2020 poll found that 93% of Americans wanted their leaders to focus on things that would bring us together. Different sides have different ideas about how to get there, but that’s a conundrum as old as our democracy. That needn’t divide us. 

There’s nothing flashy about civility. Instead, virality is often born of vitriol, and attention from animosity. In politics, the loudest voices often get the most attention. But if our nation wants to heal — if we really want to heal — we can’t expect C-SPAN to be prime-time television, or our president’s Twitter feed to be comedy. Politics is usually boring for most of the country. That’s how it should be. 

President Biden is leading the way, and we will see if his colleagues in Congress — on both sides of the aisle — follow suit. Political theater was a spectacle of the past four years, but it can stay in the past. Creative one-liners and merciless jabs at political opponents don’t help the rest of us. We need leadership, and we certainly need accountability. But we don’t need entertainment in the process.

There’s nothing flashy about civility. Instead, virality is often born of vitriol, and attention from animosity.

Younger generations seem to be homing in on that. Generation Z is far more open-minded and willing to find common ground with those who disagree with them politically, and millennials don’t trail by much. In President Biden, younger voters — myself included — see a healer.

Many of my crowd hardly remember the last Bush term or the first Obama one. We grew up in a political environment charred by distrust and coddled by conspiracy. We long for a day when politics is about leadership, not showmanship. In President Biden, we see a circuit breaker, one who can put out the sparks of division. We see hope for a more united America.

Is Biden the perfect man for the job? Far from it. But none who’ve taken the presidential oath have been. And while he’s viewed as too moderate by many on the left and too far left by many on the right, his oath taken today promises loyalty to the Constitution, not to a party. We all will be the judges of how well he performs. 

President Biden invited all of us, when we find ourselves disagreeing with him, to listen openly first. Our civic responsibility, next, is to engage respectfully. That’s the purpose of democracy — to represent all sides and do so with respect.

But today, as a deadly pandemic only gets worse, as political turmoil continues to boil, and as economic strife sees little solace, we aren’t Republicans or Democrats. We’re Americans, and in President Biden, we have a measure of hope. We have a president with little penchant for divisive rhetoric and a desire to heal us.

“Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path,” President Biden said in his address. In other words, politics can be boring. That’s how it should be, and Biden can get us there again.