Tomorrow, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States of America. And Kamala Harris will be sworn in as Vice President of the United States of America. She will also be the first woman and first woman or person of color to be elected to the office of Vice President in our nation’s history.
I’ll be tuning in to see the coverage of the historic event and hear everyone’s speeches and addresses. I’ll also attempt to continue to process a lot of what’s been going on over the past few weeks. To say that there’s been a lot going on lately in the U.S. is a gross understatement.
After the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, Donald J. Trump was impeached a second time by the House, offering another first for our nation. A sitting president has never been impeached twice before. Or impeached for inciting an insurrection for that matter. And no ex-president has faced a Senate trial hearing for their impeachment after officially leaving office before. So now we’re all waiting to see what will happen next. There are so many variables to consider. Even legal scholars are debating what should or could happen next— especially now that Democrats will hold the majority in the Senate after Biden is inaugurated, even if only by a very slim margin. And apparently Chuck Schumer,anticipated incoming Majority Leader, is talking to outgoing Majority Leader, Mitch McConnel, about their upcoming agenda for the Senate.
Will Trump be officially convicted by the Senate and banned from holding any public office ever again within the next week? It actually seems likely this time, especially after hearing McConnel’s statement today, where he claimed, “They [the mob that infiltrated the Capitol] were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government, which they did not like.” (Source: NPR). But who knows? Biden’s agenda needs to be addressed by Congress as soon as he takes office too, with so many Americans needing relief due to the effects of COVD-19. And while he plans to sign quite a few Executive Actions his first few weeks in office, he still needs Congress on board and involved to get a lot done. He still needs his Cabinet confirmed, for one.
And all of this will be happening in the nation’s capital this week, in the midst of 25,000 National Guard troops that will be stationed there, the largest amount of troops to be stationed in Washington D.C. in the history of the nation, let alone for a presidential inauguration. It’s also shocking me that there are now more U.S. troops stationed in Washington D.C., our nation’s capital, than in Afghanistan and Iraq combined— I’m still trying to let that sink in.
And while I’m grateful that the National Guard, FBI, Secret Service, Capitol Police, and other security teams and forces are performing their due diligence to ensure the safety of all individuals attending and watching Biden’s inauguration, it’s alarming to discover that several members of the National Guard were removed from inauguration duty because of inappropriate comments, behavior, or ties to extremist organizations. Just to know that there are service members who would or could attempt another insurrection or riot during such a sacred practice and fundamental part of U.S. democracy— the smooth, safe, peaceful, and secure transition of power from one president to another— is horrifying, and should shake every single American down to their very core. And yet, these are the times in which we live.
It isn’t surprising that Trump won’t attend Biden’s inauguration. It is surprising that Pence will be there instead of Trump’s departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews. I am curious how Trump’s departure ceremony will be conducted and how it will be perceived because it’s not typical for an outgoing president to have their own departure ceremony on the day of an incoming president’s inauguration. So I might have more to say about that later. Although, I will say that I think it will be nice to not have to think or talk about Trump and what he is saying or doing for a long time, especially since he’s been banned from major social media platforms… and also assuming that he’s convicted by the Senate for inciting the insurrection of the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, or that he is convicted for some other reason and banished and shunned in other ways by a growing majority of American society, which is quite possible with all of the legal challenges he’ll be facing once he officially leaves office.
Right now, I am simply trying to take all of this in at the same time. It isn’t easy. There’s too much to focus on at one time. Too much is at stake. Too many things are important. There have been a lot of “firsts” for our nation lately, and it seems that they will likely keep coming over the weeks, months, and years ahead as well. I just hope that the “firsts” stay on a track toward progress, accountability, and common ground.
I am happy that we’ll have our first Vice President who is a female of color tomorrow. And that we’ll have a more diverse Congress and presidential cabinet (once it’s officially confirmed).
I am happy that Trump is leaving the White House. Although, I’m still not sure what to expect from him and his extremist supporters now that he is leaving. I am cautiously optimistic that he will simply fade into the background, the bowels of history if you will, after being indicted for some crime or another (potentially multiple crimes). Or, at the very least, I am cautiously optimistic that he will be shunned by a majority of people in American society— most of whom are simply exhausted from, if not bored of, his dangerously hostile and intellectually shallow reality-television style of politics and governance.
Today I watched Biden’s emotional address in Delaware on his last day there before moving into the White House tomorrow and I am happy that he’s showing such an outpouring of sincere empathy and fortitude during such a difficult and unprecedented time in our nation’s history. He also hosted a vigil for victims of COVID-19 this evening at the Lincoln Memorial. It’s been a while since we’ve seen that—sincere human empathy— from a future or sitting president, and I have missed that. I have really, really missed that. I may not agree with him on all of his policy decisions (many of which are still on the agenda to be debated in Congress) but I do think he’s a decent person who sincerely cares about others, especially other fellow Americans. And that is something worth celebrating for a few minutes, even if there is still a lot of work and challenges ahead.
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