Inauguration day 2021 to look far different from 2001

Tom Hauser
Updated: January 20, 2021 05:39 AM
Created: January 19, 2021 06:12 PM

The COVID-19 pandemic assured that the 2021 presidential inauguration would look different than any other, but the U.S. Capitol insurrection earlier this month will make it even more surreal. Among many differences, don't expect President-elect Joe Biden to do the traditional walk down Pennsylvania Avenue on an inaugural parade route.

"It would not be possible for Joe Biden to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue," says Larry Jacobs of the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs. "It is littered with barricades, barbed wire, with troops. We have an encampment in Washington."

There also won't be a parade. One of many differences between this week's inauguration and all others in recent memory. It's mostly due to the pandemic but also because of the divisive election. After a similarly divisive election in 2000, the inauguration in 2001 had some protesters but was mostly a festive celebration of the peaceful transfer of power.

"Twenty years ago, Al Gore lost an election that came down to a few hundred votes in Florida and was decided by the Supreme Court," Jacobs says. "Hours later, Al Gore goes on TV concedes and doesn't contest the election. That created the opening for George W. Bush to be sworn in."

There were some arrests of protesters in 2001 along with familiar complaints about the election results, including from a Minnesota protester from St. Paul who met protesters from all over the country.

"(We) were really unified in agreeing that the election was not conducted the way it should be," she told 5 Eyewitness News in 2001. "That it was a fraud."

President Bush delivered a 20-minute speech focused on unifying the country before a crowd on the Capitol Mall estimated at 300,000.

"I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity," Bush said.

Biden will try to do the same thing against a very different backdrop.

"Joe Biden's going to talk a lot about unity, but the backdrop looks like disunity," Jacobs says.


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