Inauguration Day 2021
The inauguration of incoming President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris was historic in many aspects and took place on Jan. 20, 2021, eleven weeks after the 2020 Election. This monumental event garners a wide audience, from students to A-list celebrities.
January 30, 2021
In many elections throughout the world, it is common for a newly elected leader to take power within a short period of time after the election. In the United States, however, there can be as many as eleven weeks that pass between Election Day and Inauguration Day. This period of time, called the lame-duck session, is significant for the incoming president and a peaceful transition of power. The lame-duck session allows the newly elected president time to plan for a new administration and choose their cabinet. The length between Election Day and Inauguration Day was once longer, as the Congress of Confederation had set Mar. 4 as the date for the incoming presidents to take their oaths of office. This four-month gap was necessary due to communication difficulties regarding the time it took to count votes and travel to the Capitol, but it created issues for following elections; primarily the aftermath of the 1860 election when seven states left the Union during the lame-duck session and outgoing President James Buchanan left the issue to President-elect Abraham Lincoln, who did not have the power to make changes within the government. With the advancements in technology, the amount of time needed to travel to the Capitol and count votes has decreased, so the Twentieth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, ratified on Jan. 23, 1933, changed the first meeting of the Congress to Jan. 3 and the Inauguration Day to Jan. 20.
While the absence of President Trump was anticipated after his announcement on Jan. 8, 2021, it did not follow tradition of previous outgoing U.S. presidents. The last time that an outgoing president did not attend the inauguration of their successor was President Andrew Johnson, as he refused to attend the inauguration of President Ulysses S. Grant and held his final cabinet meeting while the event occurred.
“I feel that Trump not attending was a message that he was trying to send to, not just Biden, but to other politicians in Washington D.C.,” senior Isaac Abdelmessih said. “I don’t totally agree with his absence, since almost every U.S. President has attended the inauguration if they had lost or not. However, it just shows that Trump didn’t take the results lightly and that he believes that he was cheated.”
Impact on young Americans
At this year’s Inauguration, celebrities like Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, and Garth Brooks attended. As well as showing their support for incoming President Biden, they were also setting an example for the younger generation in America by speaking up about what they believe in.
“I think the diversity of the celebrities in attendance was inspiring,” sophomore Luke Roberts said. “I think it showed that the new President tries to be a voice of all Americans.”
To teach about the historical significance, this inauguration was shown in many classes around the country. Students learned the importance of democracy and the opportunity every citizen has to form their own opinion.
“I did watch the inauguration in my fifth period Yearbook class,” Abdelmessih said. “I remember how my teacher, Mrs. Turkelson and other classmates of mine, were discussing the inauguration of a new president and what that meant for the country moving forward. We chose to watch this important event because it only happens every four years. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion in this country, and my class watching the monumental event just reflects that idea.”
Unity beyond parties
The theme of the Inauguration was ‘America United,’ which was a major topic within incoming President Biden’s inaugural address considering the current political climate and split between party lines in America.
“I think the inauguration went well, given the fact that the national guard was heavily used to prevent any prospect of violence, but I think that Biden’s speech is something that all Americans need to hear,” Roberts said. “The speech’s main idea was, of course, unity. All Americans need to unify.”
The 2020 Election cycle brought about many heated debates between parties. The American people’s passion for political matters was never so evident.
“Even if you don’t agree with the new administration’s politics and policies, it is fine, as that is what makes America and democracy,” Abdelmessih said. “I think Republicans and Democrats alike still have their differences; however, I think for that day they put them aside to welcome in a new administration.”