The presidential inauguration day is celebrated as a national event across the United States, where the new president takes an oath to be the commander in chief of the armed forces. Not only the US media but global media outlets also telecast the whole event live. This way, the outgoing president leaves his charge and flees in a US Air Force helicopter to the place of his choice after giving the charge to the incoming president.
In these trying times amid pandemic, Donald Trump has already refused to attend Biden’s inauguration ceremony after being criticized severely by the politicians across the country amid the Capitol Hill siege.
Not only this, but the social gathering will also be an issue this time due to the persistent contagious disease that is affecting the masses across the globe.
Similarly, Washington has already filled with almost 20,000 US National Guards as the intelligence agencies smell violence by the Republicans supporters once again, like the January 6 attack.
While all of this is happening, one man was also arrested near Capitol Hill, having fake tickets to the inauguration ceremony and loaded guns having more than 500 rounds of ammunition. With this event, it is clear now that the anti-state elements are trying to disturb the peace of the United States.
The event where Garth Brooks and Lady Gaga will perform was bound to be the most entertaining in US history, but the presence of the challenging times is making it somehow unprecedentedly unique.
What is the standard procedure for a presidential inauguration? What is going to change this time in Biden’s inauguration ceremony due to the different times? Let’s explore all the things one by one.
Traditional Procedure of a Presidential Inauguration
Over the years, the presidential inauguration procedure has been altered, mostly due to changing traditions.
There is no rigid mechanism enacted in the Constitution of the United States that has to be followed. For instance, since the 1933 presidential inauguration, all the incoming presidents have attended church on January 20, as Franklin D. Roosevelt set the tradition during the Great Depression crisis.
After attending the church services, the outgoing president and vice president, along with the president-elect and the vice-president-elect, and their family members, go to the US Capitol for the oath-taking ceremony.
Several other officials also move toward the Congress to take part in the ceremony. The Chief Justice of the USA, John Roberts, will administer the oath to President-elect Joe Biden, while Sonia Sotomayor, another Supreme Court justice, will take the oath from Kamala Harris.
After that, the new president addresses the nation to tell his plans for the next four years, followed by a parade. After the parade, the outgoing president sits in the Air Force helicopter and leaves the command of the country to the new president.
However, this is not a rigid procedure, and it may vary from time to time. For instance, Lyndon Johnson took an oath on the aircraft named Air Force One. Similarly, Andrew Jackson took his oath in his private residence after the demise of Abraham Lincoln.
It is interesting to note here that the US Constitution originally mentioned March 4 for the presidential inauguration; however, it was not the justice with democracy as the defeated president would get too much time in office despite losing the election. So, after the 20th Amendment, now the incoming president takes oath on January 20.
Inauguration Ceremony be Changed from Others?
This traditional procedure is going to be changed this time due to a variety of factors, which include:
- The prevailing health crisis due to coronavirus.
- Trump not attending the ceremony
- Security crisis due to the Congressional siege.
Let’s discuss all of them, one by one.
Changes Due to Coronavirus:
Biden has been very vocal about the coronavirus crisis in his presidential campaign. He has been encouraging people to wear masks and observe social distancing. So, it was fully expected that he would resist a big gathering at his inauguration too.
While it is true that the ceremony will be held on the steps of Congress, the ceremony will be viewed by millions, if not billions, of people virtually.
While talking about the virtual activities on the inauguration day, Joe Biden said that there would be “a lot of virtual activity in states all across America” while further adding that the presidential inauguration will be even more “engaging” than the previous inaugurations.
Almost one thousand people will attend Biden’s inauguration ceremony live. A significant chunk of these people includes the Congressmen and their families. So, outsiders will only be present only in small numbers. This is a great initiative to contain the coronavirus in the United States, as the US is already the worst affected country due to the pandemic.
It is interesting to note here that there will be no physical parade alongside Pennsylvania Avenue this time to respect the coronavirus protocols.
Instead, the presidential inauguration committee announced that there would be a “virtual parade across America.”
The University of Delaware, alongside Howard University, alma maters of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, respectively, will host the drum lines in which both the president-elect and vice-president-elect will be escorted to the White House. This will initiate the virtual parade of Biden’s inauguration ceremony.
The chief executive of the Biden’s inauguration committee said,
“(The inauguration) represents the beginning of a new national journey — one that renews its commitment to honor its fallen and rise toward greater heights in its honor.”
(Chief executive of Biden’s inauguration committee)
Absence of Donald Trump and Biden’s Inauguration
After the failure of overturning the election result in every aspect, Trump announced that he would not attend Biden’s inauguration ceremony. As he took to Twitter, he wrote,
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the inauguration on January 20.”
Biden also appreciated the idea, and said that it is one thing on which he and Trump commonly agree.
If we look at the bigger picture, it is easy to estimate that Trump not attending the inauguration ceremony won’t make a big difference.
The former president is most often seated at the back seat of the car in which the president-elect comes to portray the notion of the peaceful transfer of power. It is a great way to symbolize American unity that all the politicians stand together for the sake of American democracy, despite the political differences.
As the situation stands now, Trump won’t be at the ceremony; however, Vice-President Mike Pence will be present along with the former presidents Barack Obama, G.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.
Biden’s Inauguration and the Sealed Capital
Washington is under lockdown due to the persisting security threats, as the security forces are fearing riots during Biden’s inauguration ceremony.
The presidential inauguration is often considered a memorable event in the capital city. However, the Congressional siege agitated by the Republican supporters changed the course of the events this time.
Post-Congressional riots have already been seen at some places where the extremists damaged the so-called “liberal” churches, alleging them to support Democrats.
These are alarming circumstances, as this type of situation can often trigger the unstoppable chain reaction of extremism. It will also create bifurcation in an already divided American society.
The security crisis is so severe that Seth Moulton, a Democratic Congressman, said,
“We have more troops in Washington than we do in Afghanistan right now, and they’re here to protect us from our own president and his mob.”
(Seth Moulton, US Representative from Massachusetts)
Considering the severity of the situation, the national guard troops can maintain peace in the United States amid the heated transition.
The inaugural ceremony of Joe Biden will be an event for millions of people worldwide to see.
Not only this, but the people of color across the United States are also watching for Kamala Harris to take the oath.
These were testing times, and it was very much expected that no huge gathering would be present at Capitol Hill, but the tightened security and the absence of Donald Trump from the meeting tell a despicable story that no one wanted to hear.
The presence of the outgoing president portrays a message that the peaceful transition should happen in the United States no matter who tries to shatter the democratic process of the country.