Like Lincoln, Biden faces imminent disunion. The secession this time isn’t institutional, however; it’s a secession of the mind.
A large plurality of Americans, concentrated in but not confined to the country’s rural stretches, live increasingly in their own reality, nourished by their own “alternative facts” and led by their own reckless leaders. They separate themselves not from the nation’s governing structure, but from its urban culture and establishment media.
Like Kennedy, Biden assumes power in a country nominally at peace but perilously close to catastrophe.
Only a few shots have been fired across the nation’s cultural divide, the most recent and dramatic being at the Capitol itself. Biden’s challenge, as it was Kennedy’s, is to contain a toxic ideology and keep the conflict cold.
If I were Biden, my goal would be to incorporate elements of both famous inaugurals in an effort to meet another historically weighted moment.