Teresa Leger Fernandez:
Are we all excited? Are we all like we can breather?
Yeah, really. So today, inauguration day, where were you? What did you do? What was it like?
It was so amazing. Like it was despite the heavy security. I mean, we woke up and they were national guards, you know, I’m 20 minutes walk from the Capitol and they were national guards, like just strolling up and down our street here. But once you got in there, you know, they made a decision because of COVID and because of everything else, to say, very few people get to come. And I think it was basically the secretaries, Congress, and then some key people up on the stand. So we were down below, which was great because we could look up, it was, Oh, it was wonderful because the moment Kamala Harris got sworn in, you were overcome, like, I started jumping up and down like a little girl, like who gets so excited because, Oh my God, it happened, the first woman, the first black woman, you know, it was just, that was like this level of joy.
Like I don’t believe it, it happened. And then when President Biden got sworn in, there was such a lightness and relief and faith and hope and trust and all of those beautiful words actually were all there in that moment. And you really felt it, and I think people felt that around the world that we’re past it, right. And I’ve been to, I was at Obama’s inauguration. I was at Clinton’s inauguration. And none of them were like this, like none of them had that sense of relief and that absolute sense of, we are safe now. Cause one was like, before those ones were yay, we won and our policies are better. And boy, you know, wasn’t that war in Iraq and Afghanistan horrible. But they didn’t go to the essence of, will we exist? I don’t think there’s ever been in my lifetime an inauguration like this, that marks such a transition from pure fear to where we’re at now.
So it’s, it’s like an existential shift.
Yes. It’s an existential shift. It is such a moment of transition, truly from dark to light from near fascists back to democracy. And you know, the ledge held long enough for us to start climbing out on a rope ladder. You know, it’s like, if there was a visual, the visual for me, is always this, like it was down there and it was that moment where you almost fall in and a lot of us built the ledge and we build that rope ladder and we’re climbing out now. Cause everybody did it together too. Cause that’s the other thing is such, I mean, how many, like millions and millions and millions and millions, 80 million people built that bridge out.
So is there a feeling among your fellow Congress people, at least your democratic ones, or maybe beyond your democratic colleagues that reflect what you’re saying now?
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Everybody was, and that’s the neat thing is there was a sense of palpable joy in the crowd. And I will say that there were Republicans, freshmen Republicans who came to the inauguration. And I’m going to be reaching out to those who want to work on things. But you know, once again, what Biden did was talk about what he wants to get done and how he wants to heal and bring us together. And that’s what we need to do. That’s our focus. Bipartisan isn’t our focus; progress is our focus. Healing. Unity is our focus and that’s a different thing. It’s not about the partisanship. It’s about the progress.
So any other reflections on the inauguration? I, I personally was very moved by the poem by Amanda Gorman.
Everything was wonderful. The poem by Amanda Gorman, my goodness, my goodness. And I didn’t, because we were there, you didn’t necessarily hear everything. And I heard him say for first, poet Laureate. And I was like, she’s not the first poet Laureate. We’ve had Joy Harjo and then it was only later when I went to stuff that she was the first youth poet Laureate, and boy, she spoke truth to so many and that hope in the manner in which she would color both, cause I think that’s it, like her poem reflected that sense of the dark and the light and the juxtaposition that she put was beautiful, J Lo and singing the song Justica para todos, I mean, that was like, yes. I thought Senator Klobuchar was great.
And even her opening remarks were wonderful. I tweeted out some of the stuff, her opening remarks were beautiful and captured in the moment. I loved the fact that we spoke about white supremacy. I mean, it wasn’t like we’re going to ignore what just happened. We’re going to call it out. We’re going to say, we’re not going to have it. So the fact that that ran through everybody saying, this is what is the problem. And we are going to take it on and move beyond it because these is the other problem and all those flags and all the deaths. And it’s like, it was all acknowledged. We did not, they did not in this inauguration hide any of the ugliness and the pain that this country is in. That’s the other thing that I think was wonderful about today, it was incredibly honest. And if we are saying truth matters and truth is important, we will seek the truth. And the president said it too. President Biden said it too. It got named, it got looked at and it’s going to get moved beyond. So yeah, I’m really excited.
There’s a lot of people who care about unity and healing. There’s a lot of people who care about accountability. How do you think about those two things separately or together.
They flow from each other. So you cannot fix a problem, you cannot heal somebody if you don’t understand what the disease is. Using the body as a metaphor, any time you’ve had somebody who’s got a disease they can’t figure out what it is and then when you find out what it is, that’s when you could begin the treatment. You don’t begin the treatment until after you identify what the problem is. And that’s kind of what we have to do is we have to identify and say what it is. And the line I kept saying is healing and unity begin with accountability. And it is true, because there must be consequences. Because if there are no consequences, then there are no guideposts. And we must build on what our guideposts are. And so that’s what we need to do. So I think you need to have both.
I mean, I am as eager as everybody to move forward and to not have to waste precious time on the Senate, having a hearing. But then that ignores the fact that it happened. We did not cause this, we did not incite an insurrection. But our job is to respond to the fact that it had at the same time that immigration reform, you know, all the things that got named today, let’s get to them. And we can. I mean, our will, our ability to create and to do is only limited by our will power, our willingness to do, so it’s only limited by our own dedication. And so we are dedicated to both, you know, the house did its job already, right? But the Senate can do that. It can do both. You don’t get rid of white supremacy. You don’t get rid of the KU Klux Klan.
You don’t get rid of centuries of neglect and racism and disenfranchisement by just saying, Oh, let’s forget about it. Let’s move forward. No, you must name it. You must figure out how to move forward from it. You must fix it. You must hold it accountable. There must be consequences. But then you need to really focus on the reason you want to get all of that resolved is because our goal is to be this incredibly inclusive, thriving community. And you only do that by being honest about what has held you back. And there we go. Um, so I’ve got to go, I’ve got to go have a toast.
Teresa Leger Fernandez: