As of right now, Joe Biden’s inauguration as President of the United States is set for January 20. Current Vice President Mike Pence says he will attend, while President Donald Trump says he will not. Other former presidents are attending (except for Jimmy Carter). Congress will attend. Except, none of them should.
This isn’t a partisan point. This is a health and safety point that I hope people will take seriously.
The inauguration ceremony has already been trimmed down quite a bit. Rather than 200,000 tickets divided among members of Congress to distribute to constituents, members of Congress get one guest ticket apiece. While the national guard will be present, it is likely that Washington D.C. will be doing everything it can to dissuade people from coming out. But, people will come out, and that could present a problem.
I realize that a lot of people love the pomp and circumstance surrounding the inauguration every four years, but the fact of the matter is that there are two things that make it incredibly risky to hold it even semi-publicly.
The first reason is COVID-19, which is the reason for a lot of the scaling back we see already. But we are in the midst of this pandemic, with new and more contagious strains being discovered and the numbers constantly rising as we go through this third big wave of the virus. It is irresponsible for the government elite to attend this when it puts them all at risk.
It is also irresponsible for them to attend like this when many have been preaching to us about staying home, advocating shutting down cities, states, and economies over the virus. It is yet another example of “for thee but not for me,” and it is straight hypocrisy for Democrats and journalists especially to be silent on the dangers of this potential super spreader event.
The second reason it is a bad idea is the risk of violence. Like I said, law enforcement and national guard will be on duty, but having a public event essentially gives those seeking to cause violence and destruction a bigger target. As scared and outraged as members of Congress were over the Wednesday afternoon ransacking of the Capitol building, there should be a realization that every one of them assembled together for an event runs the risk of inviting more violent protestors their way.
Instead, the event should be completely virtual, and they have twelve days to make that happen.
It is for the safety and well-being not only of Congress but of Washington D.C. itself that the inauguration committee should avoid hosting a physical ceremony and instead focus on an all-virtual one. You can still have people involved in a spectacle, but along the lines of the national conventions we saw this summer. I just don’t see how a public and physical ceremony is going to be anything but risky at best.