It is tradition for former presidents to attend inaugurations. As a peaceful transition of power, only seven presidents in history have failed to attend their successor’s inauguration. The last was Andrew Johnson in 1869. However, on 20th January, Donald Trump decided to make a back door exit into his jet and leave Washington DC for Florida, instead of staying for the inauguration of his successor, Joe Biden.
Some may say Trump could have simply attended out of politeness, but others believe he was still having a hard time accepting his defeat. Trump was adamant he was going to win the election after he claimed the Democrats had “stolen the election” and the votes hadn’t been counted correctly. Between Biden and himself, Biden was the better candidate for America and ‘making the country great again’.
However, the behaviour Trump presented in the run-up to being impeached twice and his suspension from social media showcased a mindset of denial. Had Trump attended, he might have destroyed Biden’s inauguration if he still hadn’t accepted the defeat. I agree with the presidential historian, Michael Beschloss, who compared Trump to “a three-year-old staging a tantrum”. Any other president would have accepted defeat after the election and not continued to make a fuss over it. It can be argued Trump was ‘too big for his boots’ during his presidency and damaged America in the process, because Biden now has to overturn Trump’s wrong doings.
It was evident Trump wasn’t liked from the hashtags which were trending on social media, including #WrongTrump on Twitter when his brother passed away last year. It doesn’t matter whether he was liked as a president, he still should have shown some common courtesy and attended the inauguration to show the world that, even though he is human and makes mistakes, he also has a nice side. Instead, he decided to spit his dummy out and throw his toys out of the pram.
In the lead-up to the inauguration, the Trumps broke a few traditions, which included: inviting the election victor to the White House for advice from the current president, tea-and-tour between the first ladies, and the ride from the White House to the Capitol, pre-inauguration ceremony, and meeting.
In the wake of the US Capitol riots on 6th January, Trump had tweeted stating he would not be attending Biden’s inauguration. His attendance was one of the few things the pair had ever agreed on and Biden supported Trump’s decision. Perhaps, looking forward to his final departure from the White House.