Across Montgomery County, there is hope as a new president takes office, as well as fear and frustration for what the country has endured and what might lie ahead.
More than 70 Bethesda Beat readers shared those thoughts over the past several days when asked what’s on their mind.
Dozens of people responded to an invitation to weigh in on Wednesday’s presidential inauguration, when Democrat Joe Biden takes over for Republican Donald Trump.
Many readers focused on how they expect the Biden administration to be the start of a positive new era. Others expressed their anger and disappointment in the current times — including a nation coping with a pandemic and recovering from a siege by insurrectionists — and their inability to attend the inauguration to celebrate.
Many of the responses are listed below. (Only people who could be reached by phone to confirm their name and comments were included.)
“I’m hopeful for the new administration, but I’m concerned the Trump and his people are going to hurt the country.”
Elizabeth Ortega-Lohmeyer, Rockville
“I am never afraid. I am always an optimist. I think Joe Biden has a real opportunity to do great things. He has appointed experienced people to advice and execute policy.
I am not thinking about the former president. History will judge him harshly. I am looking forward, not backwards.”
Mitch Berliner, Potomac
“Uncertain. I was one of those people who failed to recognize how angry so many Americans are.
Although I am beyond relieved that Biden won, I fear that he won’t be able to unite this country. Trump has made such a mess, that no one human — and a well-chosen administration — can restore our optimistic democracy. This is not the country I grew up in during the 1950s and ’60s, and I fear for my grandchildren’s future.”
Jean Bernard, Chevy Chase
“Regardless of the president’s party, for the 35 years I’ve lived in Washington, D.C., I have always eagerly anticipated the pride, pomp, patriotism and pageantry associated with the inauguration of an American president.
I’m angry that, this year, instead of being one of the onlookers lining Pennsylvania Avenue waving an American flag, I won’t be allowed to watch it firsthand and, out of an abundance of caution, am fleeing the city to avoid the anticipated violence and rioting, and heading to the solitude and safety of a Delaware beach.”
Kerry Harding, Potomac
“I am hopeful about the inauguration. I look forward to the new administration. With all of the National Guard troops now in place, I believe the swearing in will be safe.
With regard to the new administration, I believe it will be better. President-elect Biden will have the use of executive powers to immediately reverse some damaging decisions of the Trump administration, as well as institute a wider stimulus program. Nothing is perfect and the new administration has an overflowing plate, but I see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Regardless of who is in the White House, the pandemic will be over at some point. Biden will be able to take credit for that for his proposed actions that I hope he sees through, as well as just the timing of his presidency.”
Victoria Hanks, Silver Spring
“Hopeful and excited! Finally, leadership!”
Abby Shumacher, Bethesda
“I know Joe Biden and he is great. If anyone call pull this country together, it’s Biden. He is knowledgeable, listens, cares, is ethical, sane, and his advisors are similar.”
Marion Mattingly, Rockville
“I look forward to Joe Biden’s inauguration, but have concerns that an angry element will still try to disrupt what should be a normal part of our country’s democratic process.
Joe Biden has proven himself to understand and appreciate the office of the president and will serve with dignity an empathy, something we desperately need. He knows how important the word compromise is and his experience will help regain our standing internationally.
The people have spoken and we need to support OUR president.”
Susan Hayes Long, Derwood
“Words can’t express how excited I am for Kamala Harris to become our country’s vice president! Generations of women (and men) fought hard to get to this day. There is no turning back — women belong in politics. Although she might be the first, she will not be the last!”
Erin O’Malley, Potomac
“Joe Biden will likely have a 100-day honeymoon to get things done for us. I wish him well!
Unfortunately, it seems like he wants to spend most of that time talking about his predecessor.”
Robin Ficker, Boyds
“In order for our democracy to move forward out of the era of Trump, which fostered, corruption, fear and negativity, we look forward to an honest, just and decent man to be our next president.
Joe Biden is already giving us cogent and achievable plans for the future. With President Biden, we can recoup our international integrity and cooperation with other democracies.”
Barbara Sonies, Rockville
“I am hopeful our country can heal and find common ground, no labels, and bipartisanship. And that we confront the inequalities and racism in our history that have been the root cause of poverty, homelessness, food inequality and the death of so many innocent people. And I wish for decency and civility to return to our dialogues with each other.”
Mimi Brodsky Kress, Bethesda
“I am hopeful. We need to move away from disinformation and lies. Words matter and we should be mindful of how they may affect others.
A president must be a leader. A leader does not think of one self. He/she thinks of others and does what is best for all.
Many have things they want to say and they should through voice and conversation, not violence. Violence is never the answer. Never. May this nation be blessed and may we all rise together.”
Rick Tyler, Bethesda
“As the 46th president takes office, I am concerned for the reaction from both the far left and the far right. Pending liberal socialist changes are going to incite conservative rage. I think it is an unsettled time for all Americans.”
Anne Ledger, Rockville
“The inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris affirms the strength of our democracy at a time when it is under the greatest internal threat it has faced since the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln in March 1861.”
Eric Hirschhorn, Chevy Chase
“Unless you are part of the incoming administration or a member of Congress, I think we should all watch the Inaugural proceedings from our own TVs.
We must each do whatever we can to stop the spread of the COVID virus and make life easier for those 20,000 men and women in the National Guard who are here to protect the Capitol and are being exposed to the virus.”
Clare Cumberland, Bethesda
“I support whomever is my president and although sometimes it is difficult, my wishes for the country are always constant.
My father was an immigrant and I cannot express how fortunate it was that he landed in the United States of America in 1905. We need to continue learning, but are still the greatest melting pot in the world.
I am wishing the new administration the very best of everything. I am looking forward to the inauguration and the vaccine.”
Stan Smith, Chevy Chase
“I am hopeful that the new president will bring a degree of normalcy and basic human kindness to the office. However, I feel a great sense of sadness and dread when I think of the deep divisions that remain in our country.
I am grateful for the presence of the National Guard this week, but it saddens me that our city has turned into a militarized zone. When the terrorist attacks of 9/11 struck, our nation rallied around a common enemy. How heartbreaking to think that the more recent terrorist attacks on the Capitol were homegrown.”
Jeannette Davis, Kensington
“I’m sad and appalled that it has come to this: Our inaugural celebration is a third-world country armed camp because fascists came to threaten our democracy and our way of life.
COVID alone suggests that we not attend. Those of us who value our lives and those of others would have stayed home. Social distancing might have been able to work for those who needed to attend.
But the thugs have won by scaring into protectionist mode. They need to be arrested and charged and if those that didn’t participate in the insurrection want to protest, put them where they can’t do any damage. When we become an armed camp, they win.
I’m frightened for my children and grandchildren that we’re appeasing the insurrectionist/fascists and are becoming a failed state.”
Judy Jonas, Bethesda
“I have walked the beautiful halls of the White House with my children, enjoyed the Spring Easter Egg Hunt Rolls on the front lawn and viewed the historically beautiful and breathtaking rose garden that First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis planted.
I stood looking outside the White House window, staring at the water fountain, wondering what the future held after Barack Obama’s tenure was due to end.
Challenges are always awaiting and I believe it’s how best they are handled. If the president and vice president are going in office to serve the nation with open ears and an open heart with what transcribes to law bringing in better, then the country is already ahead winning.
I’m ready to put on my party music and dance to a New Inaugural Day, even if it’s going to be virtually!!”
Tonya Hughes, Potomac
“I’m not fazed or excited. Not hopeful for change with the new presidency. I’m disappointed in our government, both Democrats and Republicans! I never thought being an American would be embarrassing!”
Kelly Gerrish, North Bethesda
“I guess afraid would be an apt description. I’m not sure how much the acknowledged socialists within the Democratic party will control Biden.
Biden has never had a job that required any financial responsibility, and has already announced a huge ill-advised financial stimulus plan that will include bailing out regional liberal governments that mismanaged their cities and states into huge prepandemic debt.”
Richard Knickerbocker, North Potomac
“As a licensed D.C. tour guide, I accompanied a school group for the 2005 inauguration. No one could have imagined how stifling the security would be. We were still in the security line near Air & Space at noon. ‘Never again,’ I said.
But four years later, swept up in the ‘yes. we can’ emotion of the Obama inauguration, I found myself again accompanying a group of visitors — this time, adults. We left our hotel at 6 a.m. and were on the Mall in plenty of time to experience the emotions of the day. A black woman standing near me uttered ‘Sweet Jesus’ when Obama pronounced the oath.
Four years later, in 2013, I was in Florida with a group of State Department-invited international visitors. We were content to watch on TV.
2017 was a sad day. In January, 2021, I’m excited and hopeful.”
Philip Brown, Chevy Chase
“Worried about the inauguration because Trump has five days to incite some kind of horror that could render Biden and Harris harmed or ineffective. Hopeful that once it is past, Biden can quietly set about repairing the damage of the last four years, but also fearful that Trump will continue to foment trouble.
Concerned that those in power will continue to ignore the disenfranchised citizens who could continue to cause trouble, rather than attempt to address and work to find solutions to the wrongs they feel have been visited on them.
In summary, our leaders need to start running the government for everyone, listening to all, and finding a way to help us do it all together.”
Lisa Heaton, Bethesda
“I’m hopeful, confident even, that the horrible visuals of this inauguration will redound ultimately to the benefit of the Biden-Harris administration. In later years, it will mark the nadir of the American Carnage wrought by Trump and his minions. From that day forward, we’ll experience less COVID, more job growth, less division, and more community.
The split screen of Trump slinking out of town while Biden delivers a message of calm professionalism will be stark. Can’t wait!”
John McNamara, Derwood
“I am hopeful. The voice of reason, of calm, of compassion and unity Joe Biden brings to the presidency is such a contrast to our last four years. I am energized.
We have a Democratic president, House and Senate. With this immense power, our leaders need to be humble, compassionate and willing to truly listen to those who feel disenfranchised. It is so crucial that we bring everyone to the table. I am hopeful.”
Joy Nurmi, Olney
“I’m equal parts thrilled that my daughters — of Black, South Asian, and white heritage — will see themselves represented by a truly brilliant vice president, and angry that others are trying so hard to take that experience away from them.”
Kenna Barrett, Kensington
“Sad, the president-elect’s message since his win has been nothing more than a diplomatic way to whip up his base. He campaigned on unity and bringing us back to a moral center. I voted for that!
Now, even before his inauguration, the message has been cleansed of unity and it is clear the winner takes all. I voted for getting something better than the last four.
Sadly, it already looks like the next four years will be just as tense as the last four, just with a different instigator. It feels like Groundhog Day.”
George Cruser, Rockville
“I’m excited!! I think Biden will a great president! Our country needs to come back together and end this divide.”
Jenilyn Marcel, Chevy Chase
“Hopeful. Perhaps we’ve come full circle? Mad King George III lost America; he suffered mental instability and delusions. Mad President Donald dismantled our democracy; we suffered his deranged incompetence and self-promotion.
It’s taken 242 years to complete the circle. Now, let’s move on and assume the great responsibility for America’s character, principles, justice, integrity, creativity, and freedom!”
A. Jo Procter, Chevy Chase