Revelers gather to celebrate inauguration of Biden, Harris

Celebration follows insurrection in nation's capitol

Posted 1/28/21

A spirited group of about 60 people gathered at Pope Marine Park in Port Townsend to cheer on the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

The celebration came two …

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Revelers gather to celebrate inauguration of Biden, Harris

Celebration follows insurrection in nation's capitol

Posted

A spirited group of about 60 people gathered at Pope Marine Park in Port Townsend to cheer on the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

The celebration came two weeks after an insurrection in the nation’s capitol left five dead.

Three hours after Biden and Harris’ swearing-in ceremony during the inauguration, Jefferson County residents gathered at the downtown park to cheer passing cars, play music, wave flags and carry signs bearing messages that included “Thank you Georgia” and “Everything is going to be alright.”

“I want to celebrate this great inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” Debbi Steele said while holding a sign that read “Forward together.”

“I believe that’s the only way we can make this work,” she said.

Despite the attempted takeover of the citadel of American democracy in Washington, D.C. — and the first time since the War of 1812 that the capitol was entered by hostile forces seeking to overthrow the government — Steele said she felt positive about the days ahead. 

“I’ve seen a lot of people that have come out and said it was wrong. A lot of people who originally supported what had happened on [Jan. 6] and now they’re coming out and saying ‘This isn’t right.’ That gives me hope.”

Of Biden’s first term as president, Steele said she’d like to see his administration confront the issue of climate change.

“Climate change, number one,” she said about what should be Biden’s top priority.

Steele’s husband, Dennis Daneau, had a different wish.

“Pandemic!” Daneau said.

“The pandemic, of course. And social justice, systemic racism,” Steele added. “This is a turning point.”

Echoing Biden’s inaugural speech, Steele said through the power of unity, the nation can triumph over any challenge.

“One of the things Joe Biden said was, ‘Together, we can do anything.’ And I really believe that and I want to encourage the idea of it; together we can do anything. Nothing will stop us if we come together and try to return us to a really positive democracy.”

Daneau said he wanted to see an end to the misinformation fueled by the previous administration.

“We need to know the difference between a lie and the truth,” Daneau said. “[Biden] wants us to go toward the truth. We can’t be a nation that has two different ideas of what truth is.”

John Erickson joined the festive affair with his dog, Liz.

“It just feels good to share that we’re finally over the last four years and rid of the thing; he who must not be named,” Erickson said.

Climate change, social justice, education, and moving the nation forward were all top issues Erickson said should get Biden’s attention.

Of Trump’s impending impeachment, Erickson said the new president should leave that matter in the hands of Congress.

“I think Biden should focus on the future. And, honestly, Trump should just be in jail,” he said. “Let the system process Trump for his crimes. We have a good system; let that system do its job and get politics out of it. Because he’s a criminal.”

Erickson also noted that continued support for Trump by his base remains a cause for concern.

“I think we have massive problems, that 40 percent of the people still support a criminal,” he said. “People supported an insurrection. [It’s] deeply troubling that so much of America is that deplorable.”

“Hillary Clinton used the word ‘deplorable’ and it has been proven that she was absolutely right of what these people are,” Erickson added.

Jefferson County overwhelmingly carried the Biden-Harris ticket during the Nov. 3 General Election with 69.3 percent of the vote; Trump had 27.9 percent.

Across Washington state, Biden took 57.9 percent of the vote with 2.36 million votes, while Trump had 38.7 percent with 1.58 million ballots.

Nationwide, Biden claimed a victory with more than 7 million more votes than Trump along with 306 electoral college votes to Trump’s 232.

Rick Kint waved a large American flag as the group continued their Inauguration Day party across the street from Port Townsend City Hall.

“The flag belongs to all of us,” Kint said. “We are one nation, though we haven’t felt like it lately.”

“I’m here to celebrate the peaceful transfer of power,” he said. “That’s one of the most hallowed American traditions and it has been under assault for basically the last two and-a-half months.”

As Kint held the flag aloft, he noted that it held a special significance because it had belonged to his father, Dick Kint, a career Navy officer and former manager of the Jefferson County Public Utility District.  The senior Kint passed away in 2011.

“He would’ve been appalled at what happened a couple of weeks ago,” Kint said. “I’m sad that he’s gone, but I’m really happy that he did not see President Trump incite an insurrection against the United States government. I’m very glad he didn’t see that.”

Standing next to him and cheering passersby was Rachel Rutledge.

Since the 2016 election, Rutledge said she has watched as politics became increasingly fraught.

“Ever since 2016 it’s been kind of hard,” Rutledge said. “It just kept getting worse and worse and worse.”

Biden faces immense and immediate problems, she said.

“Obviously we have to deal with the pandemic; you can’t really do much else without dealing with that first,” Rutledge said.

Beyond a return to truth, some hoped for healing.

“I feel like I have just released a breath I didn’t know I was holding,” Kint added. “It’s a relief.”

Offering an analogy to practices within Catholicism, Kint said “confession comes before absolution, so we need the confession and there’s got to be some reckoning. But on the other hand you can’t keep bringing the conflicts of the past into the future.”

Mike Cornforth, a coordinator for Indivisible Port Townsend, said with Trump’s departure from office, the group’s mission had been accomplished.   

“Our original purpose was to resist the Trump agenda. Well, that is done.” Cornforth said.

“Our new focus is to restore and support democracy; that’s going to be a major endeavor because democracy has been seriously damaged by Donald Trump and his enablers,” he added.

Cornforth said they would be closely watching and advocating for the passage of HR1 — also known as the “For the People Act of 2019.” The Democrat-sponsored bill includes a litany of measures including voting rights reforms that borrow heavily from the late John Lewis’ “Voter Empowerment Act of 2019.” 

Cornforth said he hopes the bill is passed quickly.

Liz Moore came to the celebration with a sign that said “Thank you Georgia.” And on the other side was “The future looks peachier.”

“It’s a big day and I hope that things will be peachier,” Moore said.

“I didn’t put ‘peachy’ because I thought that might be a little too optimistic,” she explained.

Moore said she hoped the damage done to longstanding environmental policies over the last four years could still be undone by the Biden administration.

“The environmental damage [Trump has] done, it hurts my heart every night,” she said. “I hope that most of that can be undone, but I don’t know.” 

Moore added that for her, the swearing-in of Vice President Harris was a monumental moment. 

“Having a woman sworn in as a vice president is huge,” Moore said. “We’ve been working toward this for four years.”

Overseeing the event was Port Townsend Police Chief Troy Surber.

“Everybody seems to be pretty excited about the inauguration,” he said. “It’s a good time to be in Port Townsend.”

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