Joe Biden is now the 46th President of the United States
Kamala Harris is sworn in and becomes the first female vice president
WashingtonChange of era in Washington. Joe Biden is now the president of the United States. One minute past noon in Washington, the Democrat has been sworn in on the unusually empty west front of the Capitol. The pandemic and the security measures imposed after the assault on this very building on January 6, as well as the absence of Donald Trump, who this morning left the White House for Florida, have marked the ceremony. If in 2009 two million people filled the Mall to follow the inauguration of the former Democratic President, Barack Obama, on this occasion only a thousand guests, sitting on the stage respecting the security distance, have been able to accompany Biden. But there are also some positive exceptions: Kamala Harris has become the first woman and the first black and Asian-American woman to hold the vice-presidency of the United States.
It is the same scenario where the assault on Congress by a mob of Trump supporters took place two weeks ago, an attack that left five people dead. The impressive security measures, with more than 20,000 National Guard troops deployed in the city, have so far prevented incidents. Donald Trump is now in Florida, on his way to his Mar-a-Lago mansion. He is the first outgoing president to not attend the inauguration ceremony since 1869. Before boarding the plane, the now ex-president has mentioned that he will try to return "somehow". According to the Bloomberg agency, he would be considering founding a new political party.
The centre of the capital is taken over by more than 20,000 National Guard troops from the country's fifty states, the anomaly with which Donald Trump's turbulent term ends and Joe Biden's begins, who has become the 46th president of the United States. Whilst he arrives at the White House accompanied by the motto "Heal the Nation's Soul", Biden faces a major challenge. He returns to the United States government, four years after being by Barack Obama's side, and does so having turned 78: he is the oldest man to assume the presidency.
He will find a country devastated by a double illness: the one caused by the coronavirus, and the one caused by the authoritarian populism of the outgoing president. The former has already left 400,000 dead - the last 100,000 in just five weeks - and a devastated economy. The second has led to an assault on the Capitol on January 6, groups of armed and emboldened white supremacists and millions of Americans trapped in a web of lies that make them believe they live in a failed state. Seventy percent of Republican voters consider Biden an illegitimate president who arrives at the White House thanks to a gigantic electoral fraud. This is what Donald Trump has told them over and over again. And the delirium, driven by a media apparatus at his service, has drawn in a considerable portion of the citizenry.
Uncertain political future
Trump is leaving, but his political future remains uncertain. His leadership over the Republican Party and his chances of trying again in four years depend largely on what happens in the Senate, which is responsible for trying Trump politically on the charge of "inciting insurrection", passed last week in the House of Representatives. This Tuesday, at the resumption of activity in the upper house, Republican leader Mitch McConnell made his strongest statement on the events of January 6 and the role played by the president. According to McConnell, "The mob was fed lies, [it was] provoked by the president and other powerful people".
If he votes to condemn Trump, the senator could drag along enough Republicans and close the doors of the White House to the current president for 2024. Meanwhile, in a further attempt to disassociate himself from the events, Trump last night broadcast a farewell video in which he said, "Political violence is an attack on what we want as Americans". Without mentioning Joe Biden's name, the Republican noted, "I pray for his success in keeping America safe and prosperous", and wished him "luck, a very important word". Far from closing the door on his political future, Trump defended himself: "the movement we started is just the beginning".