For an inside glimpse of the new Biden administration, check out the 46th minute of a streaming video at: youtu.be/q3Uh_48zG9M. It features a virtual swearing-in ceremony on the evening of Inauguration Day, when Biden addressed several hundred newly appointed political appointees (and their families) just before they took their oath of office. I witnessed this in real time because my son, Jordan, was one of these appointees. Mind you, these appointees were all hard-core Biden supporters, so one would expect more partisan remarks from the president than what he said during his Inaugural speech. In off-the-cuff remarks to this group of partisans, the president distinguished himself from his predecessor several ways. He said that respect for one another was paramount. If he caught a political appointee behaving disrespectfully towards others, that person would be fired on the spot. No matter what religion, gender, race or political affiliation might characterize a person, everybody deserves respect. He said that government should look like and reflect the diversity of its citizens—that diversity was a strength. He openly predicted that he would make mistakes and counted on his appointees to point out his mistakes. If any of his appointees felt that Biden’s words or actions violated their professional standards, they were encouraged to voice their concerns. Newly Senate-confirmed National Intelligence Director (DNI) Avril Haines expressed it even more starkly when she said: “To be effective, the DNI must never shy away from speaking truth to power—even, especially, when doing so may be inconvenient or difficult.” Finally, the president said that he and his appointees work for the people; “They don’t work for us. We work for them. They pay my salary. They pay your salary. They put their faith in you. I put my faith in you. So you have an obligation [to work on their behalf].” He called these new appointees “members of my team.” Only through teamwork can our major challenges be overcome. No more “only I” can solve America’s problems. Rapid “strong man” decision-making now gives way to more consensus-seeking governance by a captain and his diverse team.

William McCarthy

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