Four years ago, President Donald Trump boasted about the huge crowds that flocked to Washington, D.C., for his inauguration. Joe Biden’s swearing-in promises to be a much more sleepy affair, without the traditional parade. Biden’s staff have even asked people not to come to the capitol to celebrate — as if they would be tempted to celebrate in the first place. Perhaps they know that even Biden voters were less excited about Biden than they were tired of Trump.
On Sunday, Biden’s inaugural committee announced that after the traditional swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol, the incoming president will receive a shortened military escort to the White House instead of the traditional parade, Bloomberg reported.
Inaugural planners have urged Biden supporters to avoid traveling to the capital for the ceremony. Tickets for the swearing-in are available only to members of Congress and their guests, and workers are taking down the temporary grandstands for dignitaries to view the traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Instead of the parade, Biden will conduct a socially-distant “pass-in-review” of troops from every branch of the military on the East Front of the Capitol. Ceremonial units will then escort the president from 15th Street NW to the White House.
Of course, there will be some manufactured pomp and circumstance, streamed from hundreds of miles away. The inauguration will include a “Virtual Parade Across America” featuring musical acts, marching bands, poetry, dance troupes, and essential workers. The team that put together the all-virtual Roll Call of the States during the Democratic National Convention — a series of short videos from each state in the Union to nominate Biden as the Democratic nominee — will supervise this virtual parade.
“There are many grand traditions to the inaugural, and we plan to honor them by highlighting more of our nation’s people than ever before while keeping everyone safe,” Presidential Inaugural Committee CEO Tony Allen said in a statement.
While some concessions to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic would likely be unavoidable, the Biden team appears to have used this opportunity to signal the incoming president’s deadly seriousness about the pandemic.
Then again, Americans who found themselves exhausted by the Trump presidency may be temporarily pleased to see Biden’s low-key approach to pomp and circumstance. Those who know about Biden’s radical policy agenda will also be glad for a chance to tune out the celebrations on January 20 and prepare their arguments in favor of limited government and religious liberty instead. It’s going to be a long four years.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.