From drive by birthday honks, to a socially distanced outdoor Thanksgiving, traditional celebrations now look nothing short of unconventional. But, of all of the customs that strayed from normalcy, one stands out: the transfer of power between presidents. As the United States transitioned from former President Donald Trump to current President Joe Biden, only one of the many traditional practices that occurs every four years took place. And while the actual inauguration remained peaceful, the events leading up to it certainly were the opposite.
One of the biggest traditions that Trump did not follow was inviting the successor to the White House. During this time, the president typically shares advice that he (and someday, she) feels is important along with the challenges that he has faced. But, as Trump refused to acknowledge that Biden had won the election, he also refused to invite him into the White House to continue this tradition.
Additionally, as the Presidents failed to come together, the “tea and tour” between the first ladies also failed to occur. Normally, the first ladies enjoy tea together, then move on to a tour of the White House. This tradition goes back through all of modern history, but this year Melania decided it was not important enough to uphold. Although both of these traditions were broken, one still came: the writing of a personal note to the next president. These letters usually include the importance of the job and everything that comes with it. Although we do not know the contents of former President Trump’s letter to President Biden, we do know that one was written, upholding a personal tradition from president to successor.
Even though many traditions did not occur this year as they normally would have, the United States can still pride itself on having a peaceful Inauguration day. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for the days leading up to the event. As Trump refused to accept his loss in November, many of his supporters did the same, which resulted in the Capitol’s first breaching since 1814. Exactly two weeks prior to the inauguration, the Capitol building was stormed by angry Trump supporters who refuse to believe that Joe Biden is now their president. The riots resulted in the death of five people, and left many more injured.
With so much going on in the world right now, it is vital for the United States to come back together, and that is what Biden aimed to accomplish in his inaugural address. “Yet hear me clearly: disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you: I will be a president for all Americans. All Americans. And I promise you I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.”
That is what the peaceful transfer of power is all about: the ability to act for the whole population, even those who wanted someone else. Once becoming president, it is no longer about just those who have supported you in the past, and it is essential for both the president and the people to understand this. it is important to stay hopeful for the future and to remember that no matter who is leading this country, the people are the true foundation, and we must stay united with this in mind.