20th January, 2021
The stage is set for the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as 46th US President and Vice President respectively in few hours time.
The swearing-in is 10.00am US time and 4.00pm Nigerian time.
Biden and Harris will be sworn-in in a scaled back ceremony at the US Capitol. Harris will make history as the first female, first Black and first South Asian US vice president.
Biden’s speech today is expected to be about 20 minutes in length, one of his aides said, which follows a pattern of inaugural addresses from recent presidents. Four years ago, Trump spoke for 15 minutes, while Barack Obama’s speech in 2009 was about 18 minutes.
According to CNN, for the first time in modern history, the new president’s successor will not be sitting within arm’s reach on the west front of the Capitol. By the time Biden takes his oath of office, Trump is scheduled to have arrived at his home in Florida. Aides say Biden is unlikely to mention — or certainly not dwell on — Trump, but could give an appreciative nod at Vice President Mike Pence, who plans to attend.
The vice president-elect will take her oath of office using two Bibles; one that previously belonged to a former neighbour and family friend of Harris’, Regina Shelton, and another that belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court, the aide said.
Washington DC and states across the country are under strict and heightened security over fears of possible new threats today.
Because of COVID-19 outrage in US, government leaders and health officials are telling people to stay away. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser urged people to not travel to the United States capital for the inauguration in a news conference early last week.
According to Bowser, “Our goals right now are to encourage Americans to participate virtually and to protect the District of Columbia from a repeat of the violent insurrection experienced at the Capitol and its grounds on Jan. 6.”
During Biden’s inauguration, the National Mall will be shut down to keep people away, so we will all be spared another comparison of crowd sizes, especially since President Trump’s Twitter handle has been turned off. The threat of violent protests from election-denying Trump supporters and the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops will keep anyone from forgetting Trump’s turbulent leadership, or lack thereof.
Normally, members of Congress get a raft of tickets to distribute at will. This year they each get a plus one. The public is being encouraged to stay away and there will be no public parade from the Capitol to the White House. Instead there will be a virtual parade bringing in people from around the country.
The inaugural balls — usually there are multiple and the new president makes a short appearance at several — will be replaced by a produced TV show featuring stars like Hanks along with Justin Timberlake. This will feel very much like the Covid inauguration.