Biden inaugural address utilized word ‘democracy’ more than any other president’s

Biden inaugural address used word 'democracy' more than any other president's

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President Joe Biden speaks after being sworn in as the 46th President of the United States throughout the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the United States Capitol in Washington, January 20, 2021.

Patrick Semansky | AFP | Getty Images

Standing in the area where a lethal riot at the U.S. Capitol had actually occurred 2 weeks previously, President Joe Biden provided an inaugural address that utilized the word “democracy” more times than any other inauguration speech in U.S. history.

“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day,” Biden stated at the start of the speech. “The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded. We have learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”

Biden utilized the word 11 times throughout his address. That ranks ahead of addresses from Harry Truman, who stated “democracy” 9 times in his 1949 address, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, who did the exact same throughout his 3rd swearing-in event in 1941, according to a CNBC analysis of speeches from the American Presidency Project. The job is an archive of public files preserved by the University of California, Santa Barbara.

“What was fascinating to me about it was that he started and ended with democracy,” stated Bill Antholis, the director and CEO of the Miller Center, a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia that focuses on governmental scholarship. 

Antholis, who is a previous handling director at the Brookings Institution and served in the Clinton administration, associated the style of Biden’s speech to the Capitol riot and the occasions that preceded it.

“I think this was a very different speech than the one that would have been written if Trump had conceded on the morning of Nov. 4,” Antholis stated. “And since the riot attacked both the physical symbol and a key proceeding in our democracy, Biden was speaking to a very current moment.”

Most regular usages of the word “democracy” in governmental inaugural addresses

  • Joe Biden (2021): 11
  • Harry Truman (1949): 9
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 3rd address (1941): 9
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 2nd address (1937): 7
  • George H.W. Bush (1989): 5
  • Bill Clinton’s 2nd address (1997): 4
  • Bill Clinton’s very first address (1993): 4
  • Warren G. Harding (1921): 4
  • William Henry Harrison (1841): 4

Antholis kept in mind that the term “democracy” ended up being more typically utilized in political speech throughout the 20th century, around the time of Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, which started in 1913. A previous teacher of government, Wilson accepted the term. Antholis stated that Truman and Roosevelt saw themselves as “Wilsonians,” which may describe their usage of the expression.

Wednesday’s speech was likewise a plain contrast to President Donald Trump’s inaugural address 4 years earlier, when Trump mentioned “American carnage.”

“One of the things that was striking was the normalcy of a very moving ceremony and the way he spoke about democracy as enduring,” stated Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and a previous director of speechwriting for President Bill Clinton.

“The pictures that the word carnage conveys are horrible,” stated Kathleen Kendall, a research study teacher of interaction at the University of Maryland. “Biden did the opposite. I’d say that his main point is that America has been tested and has risen to the challenge.”

Words such as “America,” “democracy” and “unity,” all of which Biden utilized, are words most Americans consider positively and react to favorably, Kendall included. 

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