Donald Trump says he’s leaving Washington early and won’t be at Wednesday’s inauguration. He and wife Melania aren’t participating in any of the ceremonial passing of the torch traditions that typically happen when a new president takes office. No official greeting of President-elect Joe Biden and wife Jill, or riding with them to the Capitol for the swearing-in. Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama will join Mr. Biden for a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington Ceremony later in the day. But Mr. Trump, he doesn’t plan on going anywhere near his successor.
In Mr. Trump’s warped mind, he probably thinks he is sticking it to the Bidens. Disrupting things in a last act of disobedience from a president who constantly felt the need to prove he didn’t have to follow the rules. I say it’s the best thing he could have done for the country. Better end the charade of a presidency that has consumed the last four years as soon as we can and move toward a place of hope. Good riddance to a man who put his ego before loyalty to his country and started an insurrection at the Capitol by followers who told police they were “listening to Trump, your boss.” Goodbye to a man who would be happy to see Black people like me go back to second-class citizenship. To a man admired by white supremacists and staunch racists. A man whose White House, in another last minute insult on Monday, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, released a propaganda-filled report by its “1776 Commission” with the audacity to question the legacy of slavery.
Mr. Trump’s presence would just take away from the moment. With several executive decisions and other actions planned by Mr. Biden during his first weeks in office, things are already looking up. So far, he plans to overhaul the country’s immigration policies and put people on a path to citizenship, return the U.S. to the Paris climate accords, push for a COVID stimulus package, release a new COVID vaccine plan, repeal a ban on citizens from Muslim countries and cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit that allows for the transportation of oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
At his side: vice presidential pick Kamala Harris, the first woman, Black person, and person of Asian descent elected to the country’s second-highest office, who by her mere presence reflects the diverse country that Mr. Trump and his followers have showed such hostility. The daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father will serve as a role model for little girls everywhere and topple traditional gender roles. Her husband Doug Emhoff, has said he’s fully ready to take a step back and put his career on the back burner for the unpaid role as first gentleman — and most importantly, supportive husband. I hope that Mr. Biden allows her the same strong voice on issues of equality that she used in the Senate.
It won’t be an easy task, getting the country back on track. It will take time to undo what Mr. Trump has done to hurt the country’s democracy. Some things will be beyond Mr. Biden’s control to change at all, such as the makeup of the Supreme Court. The economy will take a long time to rebuild, and that’s only after the pandemic is under control, a prognosis still months away. Mr. Trump stoked up the racists, and I fear for other, smaller attacks. The Capitol was just the beginning. We already know that hate crimes escalated during the Trump presidency, and I predict the sentiments of his followers will fester long after he has left office. Hence, the transformation of downtown Washington D.C. into military-protected Green Zone during inauguration. How safe will we all be the rest of the year?
Our criminal justice system needs massive reform to create a fair and equitable system that doesn’t disproportionately target African Americans. The disturbing number of law enforcement and military that stormed our Capitol ought to give us some insight on where to start. Who exactly is upholding the laws of our country?
The U.S. is still a work in progress, and the Trump presidency only exposed our flaws and took us several years backward. I don’t expect Mr. Biden to be a miracle worker, but his staff has already promised a speech filled with hope and none of the combative and divisive rhetoric of Donald Trump. He is willing to recognize a country in crisis and set it on the right path. He is going to show that he cares about the state of our democracy. That is a lot more than the last president ever did.
Andrea K. McDaniels is The Sun’s deputy editorial page editor. Please send her ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her Twitter address is @ankwalker.