A Virtual Inauguration
Updated: Jan 19, 2021
Many cringed in fear when President Barack Obama and the First Lady left the limousine and walked the inaugural parade route for minutes in 2009. Imagine the anxiety if next week's inauguration is held traditionally with guests and a crowd outside the recently besieged Capitol. (Photo by Charles Dharapak/AP)
I advocate a virtual inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
I support not risking lives in the traditional swearing-in ceremony on January 20 outside of the Capitol, which was attacked only one week ago. Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died from injuries sustained during the siege.
Yesterday, U.S. President Donald Trump became the first president to be impeached twice, after being charged with “incitement of insurrection” in the storming of the Capitol. The House of Representatives accused Trump of encouraging violence with his false allegations of voting fraud, reported BBC News (January 14). Trump now faces trial in the Senate but not before he leaves office.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that there are plans for similar sieges at the Capitol again and at the 50 state capitals. Investigators are pursuing the possibility that the riot was planned and not an out-of-control protest, according to CNN (January 14).
At the same time, the United States is tallying the highest number of COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began last spring.
Even a peaceful inauguration would become a potential “super spreader” event. The Biden team already had urged Americans to avoid traveling to Washington, D.C. due to the pandemic, a call which D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has taken up, according to BBC News (January 12).
“I’m not afraid of taking the oath outside,” Biden said at a hospital in Newark, Delaware, where he received his second and final injection of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, reported Politico (January 11).
Bravery should not be a prerequisite for attending the inauguration.
Representative Jason Crow, a Democrat from Colorado, said:
“We’re not going to be intimidated by a mob.”
Neither should bravado.
State capitals tightened security with National Guard units, SWAT teams and additional police officers, according to PBS (January 11). There are now 20,000 National Guard members in the nation’s capital, which has three times the number of U.S. troops than in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, reported CNN (January 14).
“The insurrectionist mob that showed up at the president’s behest and stormed the U.S. Capitol was overwhelmingly made up of longtime Trump supporters, including Republican Party officials, GOP political donors, far-right militants, white supremacists, members of the military and adherents of the QAnon myth that the government is secretly controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophile cannibals,” reported The Associated Press (AP) (January 11).
The AP reviewed social media posts, voter registrations, court files and other public records for more than 120 people either facing criminal charges related to the Capitol assault or, who did not wear masks and were identified later from photographs and videos.
I hope that as the investigation deepens, the inauguration will become a virtual event that will not risk lives.