President Joe Biden spent his 100th day in office at the place that propelled him to the White House.
Georgia went blue in November after nearly two decades as a Republican stronghold.
But more than that, it’s the January election here, won by Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who transferred control of the US Senate to the Democrats.
Mr. Biden came to say “thank you” to the people who gave Democrats the slim majority on Capitol Hill and the ability to push change forward.
The first 100 days
So how did the president fare in his first 100 days?
Not far from its late-night rally is the Georgian town of Stone Mountain. When the president says the country is at an “inflection point” here they know what he means.
These quiet streets were the scene of protests of anger last year. The backdrop was the city’s controversial history. Along with the mountain sculptures of Confederate Generals, this was once where the Ku Klux Klan lingered.
At the local martial arts club, instructor Walter Maddox is relieved that this whole division is, he hopes, behind them.
He’s focused on his business – and the new president, he says, has kept his promises.
“All he started to do is just take time. It’s like you said, he gets into a lot of things. It was a lot of fuss, just a lot of tragedy. And I think. that over time things will heal and other things will definitely get better. We just have to be patient and give her a chance to fend for herself, “he says.
It was the federal government’s one-time payment of $ 1,400 – part of several trillions of dollars coronavirus recovery plan – who saved him.
“Money straight to your bank account?” I ask.
“Directly to my bank account. I didn’t have to look for it or anything, ”he says.
“It has helped me tremendously. I was closed for six months. A lot of my colleagues here were closed for six months, and it was a tough time. A lot of people lost their businesses, but thank God for them. sums of money that were there; that Congress had put in place and we were able to get that helped me survive. “
An opportunity for Trump?
Last year, the freeway to Atlanta was dotted with huge BIDEN / HARRIS and TRUMP / PENCE billboards. They are gone now, but the divisions remain deep.
Young Republican activists like Adam Keller still believe the election was rigged despite evidence and investigations to the contrary.
“Proved is a strong word because there is a lot of fake news,” says Adam.
“People can’t really trust. So whether it’s proven or not, the problem is trust. Trust in the electoral system has been severely crippled by the last election.”
He tells me that the policies of the Biden administration are proof of his far-left agenda, led by the vice president Kamala harris, long considered a radical socialist by Republicans.
But he sees it as an advantage, paving the way for the return of Asset.
“You have an administration that says Biden is centrist, but his actions and policies are so leftist and when the middle sees it, they don’t really know where to go,” he explains.
“Part of our agenda that we really need to get across… we need to find the middle again. We need to start reaching out to them; becoming a little more centrist in our messages. And then when they realize that our message is really what they want to hear, they will see. “
He argues that Donald Trump will never lose his base, no matter what. Thus, by passing in the center of the field, he can easily spot the centrists upset by the path of Joe Biden.
Can bipartisanship work?
Outside of the state capital of Atlanta, there is a hint of one of the national challenges. Lines of homeless people. It is a problem so compounded by a struggling economy and the pandemic. In America, there is no safety net in the event of a fall.
Nearby, we meet Fallon McClure, a local lawyer and democratic activist for the grassroots group the Working Families Party.
“I saw the speech,” she said. “A number of times he mentioned bipartisanship and … having Republican and Democrat representatives coming to talk to him. And … he was basically like ‘if you don’t like my plan, come talk about it. “We can debate it, but we just have to get things done.”
She continued, “I think that’s the right approach. We have to move together. But then … he has a majority for a reason, right? Sometimes we can’t move together and sometimes we just have to get things done. And I think he has to recognize when… it’s not always going to be bipartisan. “
Back at Stone Mountain, we chatted with retired couple Curt and Sherrie Elliott, two of the 74 million people who voted for Donald Trump. The conversation hinted that the old arguments, even if they betray the facts, are still there.
“Well, we’re not really that impressed. First of all, he didn’t win the election,” Curt tells me.
“And secondly, right off the bat he starts with all these executive orders on extending his power … I don’t feel any closer to unity, because … he does things that don’t. are not. what Republicans were in favor of and wanted. So how the hell is he trying to achieve any kind of two-party system? “
I ask for Joe Biden’s remarkable success with the immunization program.
“We don’t know if it works. It’s at an experimental stage. It’s not proven … No, we’re not going to get the vaccine. There’s no way, they’ll have to hold us back and force us to get the vaccine. vaccine, ”Curt says.
His wife nods.
“America is on the move again” is Joe Biden’s central message.
However, we always have the impression of moving in two different directions. Unity or even reconciliation seems far away.