Column: Unique challenges await Biden at inauguration

Lindsey Ulrey

Joe Biden will have the challenge on Wednesday of addressing a deeply divided nation and trying to bring them together. This may be a bigger challenge due to how different this inauguration will be compared to years past.

One stark difference is that there will be a break of a 150-year tradition. Trump will break tradition by not attending Biden’s inauguration. This is a surprising choice because Trump supported and expressed respect for the tradition in his inauguration speech.

“Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition,” Trump stated in 2017 during his inauguration speech.

Another difference between the upcoming inauguration and past inaugurations is the level of security. “Many of Us will return on January 19, 2021, carrying Our weapons, in support of Our nation’s resolve, to which [sic] the world will never forget!!!” one person wrote on Parler, a site friendly to right-wing extremists. “We will come in numbers that no standing army or police agency can match.”

This threat is an alarming one and has been echoed by many extremists. Many are trying to calm the tension by assuring the public that every precaution has been taken.

“I feel very strongly that this will be a very secure and safe event,” Tony Allen, CEO of the Biden-Harris Inaugural Committee, stated. “We have taken every precaution. As I said before, I very much believe in and have every confidence in the U.S. Secret Service and the professionals that they are working with. So, we feel really good about that.”

The details of Biden’s address have been kept away from the public, and I am intrigued to see what approach he takes to speak healing words to our nation during this time of restlessness and agitation.

Biden is not the first president-elect to have this challenge, and I suspect that we will hear the essence of healing words spoken by past presidents in his speech. Speechwriter Jeff Shesol points out the challenges Biden will face in his inauguration speech.

“He does have to try to draw Americans together. And yet he also has to show that he is not naïve,” he said. “I think the typical gauzy appeals to national unity that you typically get in inaugural addresses really aren’t going to wash here,” Shesol said.


Lindsey Ulrey is a freshman political science major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]