(Most) Americans in Berlin relieved at Biden presidency

A handful of Wahlberliner on how they feel about the current and former president.

AP/Markus Schreiber

Berlin-The day after the United States welcomed its 46th president, Americans in Berlin weren't celebrating the start of one presidency as much as they were celebrating the end of another. 

"The new administration is going to have to move fairly aggressively," says David Hawkins, a photographer originally from Chicago who has spent years in both Berlin and Paris. "I thought his inaugural speech hit the right tone."

Like most American Wahlberliner, Hawkins has spent the past four years both shocked by former president Donald Trump and worried about what his next steps might be. President Trump was also often an embarrassment for those abroad, especially since, for decades, he had been little more than a high-profile clown in the US.

Hawkins said that while he's fine having Biden in the White House, it's the new president's cabinet that is likely to do all the real work.

"I think you're going to see a lot of people around him sort of rise to the occasion," Hawkins said. Bernie Sanders, who is now leading the Senate's budget committee, is "fired up" and has hinted he will use the new powers to pursue his far-left agenda, possibly doubling the statutory minimum wage.

But Hawkins doesn't shy from conflict and was in touch with Republican friends and acquaintances in the days before the inauguration.

"A lot of them still had this immense feeling of entitlement, like they're still calling the shots," he said. "I don't think it fully dawned on them that all that shit was going to evaporate in the next 24 hours."

Bernie Sanders was also popular on the Twitter of Berlin's American diaspora - specifically the meme of placing the bundled up Bernie seen during the inauguration at local sites. 

The local chapter of Biden's party, the Democrats Abroad, were naturally pleased at the inauguration and had their own online celebration. 

"I don't remember having watched an inauguration before, and found it surprisingly moving - knowing how much time and energy so many people in Democrats Abroad and back home put into the election. The inauguration poet Amanda Gorman was amazing," Powen Shiah, the organisation's local press officer, said in an email.

Shiah said it was nice to meet other people sharing his emotions, even if just virtually.

"By the time we finished up around 9pm, President Biden had already signed several executive orders, like reversing the Muslim travel ban, rejoining the Paris climate accords and banning anti-LGBTQ discrimination in federal agencies, so it was a momentous day on many fronts," he wrote.

Travis Todd, managing director of the Silicon Allee start-up support network he also founded, said he was pleased that politics could once again become "boring" and that American business leaders would likely find their European counterparts eager to return to normal relations.

"It's been exhausting to wake up every day during the Trump administration and worry if he had burned the country to the ground overnight. I'm excited to have a real human being as President again, one who cries on camera and who is honest, serious and has integrity," Todd said. 

But in an acknowledgement that the US is no longer his home, he also noted that Germany is also at the start of an election cycle.

"I think that the Biden agenda will fall on friendly ears in Europe and see a revival of transatlantic collaboration. I hope the Germans will take some inspiration for their upcoming election this year as well," he said.