Move the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris inauguration indoors. Postpone the parties. Tone down the extravaganzas until better days.
On Jan. 20’s historic changing of the White House guard, let’s skip the thousands of people packed onto the National Mall to watch the new president take his oath of office. Let’s also skip the parade and the presidential jump-out-of-the-limo-to-stroll-down-Pennsylvania-Avenue move and, after the sun goes down, the million-dollar inaugural balls.
From a safety standpoint, it’s the most sensible thing to do. If, as the National Park Service said this week, it will shut down the Washington Monument until four days after the inauguration because of “credible threats” from groups that were involved in the violent Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, why is an outdoor inauguration still even scheduled?
These are extraordinary times, frightening — and even bad for our health.
On Wednesday, President Trump was impeached for the second time in his presidency of “only” four years, making the descriptor “extraordinary” no mere overused cliche. The impeachment came exactly a week after thousands of his violent supporters crashed the U.S. Capitol, out for blood because their “savior” lied and told them he was cheated out of a second term.
For them, it’s not over. In fact, security experts in and out of government have made clear that last week’s violence, in which a police officer was hit in the head and later died — along with four other people — could be just the beginning.
And that’s why we urge Biden and his protectors to move the inauguration indoors. Would it mean that the domestic terrorists won? No, it would mean that the chances of a more-secure, less-fraught transfer of power are better. An immoral core of Trump supporters have proven themselves so violent, so deluded, that they again could be out for blood that day. They are emboldened — they made federal lawmakers run for their lives.
In fact, Danny Coulson, a former top FBI official, agrees. “If it were up to me, and it’s not, I would not have this inauguration outside,” he told Fox News. “I’d do it in a football stadium. We know how to secure football stadiums. We can control access, we can control everything from drones to people, and they need to do that.”
Precedent for a move
It wouldn’t be the first time an inauguration was moved from the Capitol. In 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt died 82 days into his fourth term. Vice President Harry S. Truman succeeded him. Because of the solemnity that the death of a president demanded and austerity measures in effect as World War II still raged and the oath of office was administered on the South Portico of the White House, rather than at the Capitol. The parade and other festivities were postponed to a later date.
Let’s do something like that.
In addition to the very real threat of violence, Americans also are under threat from an airborne enemy.
The death toll from COVID-19 in this country has surpassed 380,000. How do you social distance the inauguration crowd on the Mall? At the balls, at the parties?
Then there are the optics of extravagance at a time when the losses from the coronavirus run deep — the loss of jobs, of companionship, of health, of learning, of loved ones. Something about it just doesn’t feel right. Emotional relief, yes. Public celebration, not yet.
The democratic foundation of our nation has been violently shaken by lawless insurgents whose aim is to keep Trump in office.
Nothing could better symbolize their failure than the safe, secure transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden.