The Inauguration and The Future of the Presidency 

Emma Delk, Staff Reporter

On January 19, 2021, the Tuesday before Joe Biden’s Presidential inaugurationDr. Harrison, Associate Professor of Political Science at Fairmont State, shared information and his thoughts on the event and the future presidency during an Honors Association Lobby Talk. Dr. Harrison began his talk by explaining in detail the peaceful transition of power that is the inauguration to the presidency. 

The inauguration that took place on Wednesday was historic in many ways, not just for the typical celebrity appearances and elaborate ceremonies that take place during the event, but it was historic in who was missing. Apart from the absence of a large audience on the National Mall to watch this event, there was the notable absence of former President Trump. Dr. Harrison explained how in a typical inauguration the previous President takes it as his last moment in the spotlight. This is the first time the former President has not been present to see the new one being sworn in, but despite this, the peaceful transfer of power will still occur.  

The ins and outs of the event were also explained in detail by Dr. Harrison. He explained that the inauguration is largely paid for by private sources, this year these sources largely being donors to the Democratic party. These donors can be anyone, as Dr. Harrison puts it, “from Comcast to Barabara Streisand.” This year, however, one could expect a much more scaled-down version of the typical inauguration, with the cancellation of the galas and balls that would take place due to COVID-19 precautions.  

After the inauguration, comes Biden’s presidency, which Dr. Harrison gave some insights into what he believed could take place during the beginning of Biden’s time as President. Dr. Harrison says, “You could not pay me to be President, it is not an easy job. I would much rather prefer a position as the Vice President.” His words ring true, as even though both the House of Representatives and the Senate will have a Democratic majority when Biden is President, these majorities are close majorities. The House of Representatives lost Democratic seats, with the current Democratic majority being 222 Democrats and 211 Republicans. The Senate would be in an even 50 Republican Representatives and 50 Democratic Representatives tie if it was not for Vice President Kamala Harris, who will break all ties in the Senate as the President of the Senate. This majority is even slimmer due to the fact that Representatives like Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin have said they will not support more left-wing legislator in the Senate. 

Dr. Harrison hopes with these close majorities in both the House and Senate that more moderate policies will be put through Congress, that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on, for the most part. He hopes that more compromise occurs for the benefit of all, not just one party. 

As for former President Donald Trump, Dr. Harrison believes that we have not seen the last of him. Trump has already said that he plans to run in 2024, and if he cannot get the Republican nomination, there is a high chance that he will run as a third-party candidate. Despite his loss in the 2020 election, Trump still has a large and devoted group of followers to his name. Dr. Harrison believes these followers could have an important sway politically in many areas of the country, saying “There are still going to be many Republicans who want his seal of approval in elections. They will want the motivated Trump supporters to come out and vote for them in many parts of the country, including West Virginia.” It is evident that Trump left an impact on many in his time as President, leaving him with a future in politics that he may soon return to. 

Dr. Harrison ended the talk with words of advice that are helpful to have when who is in power in the United States has shifted greatly. He says, “I said the same for when Trump was elected, and I will say it now: Give Joe Biden a chance. If you don’t like him, you can always vote him out of office after his four years end.” No matter the party or other political affiliation, it is important to know that no President will be in office forever and that keeping an open mind to whoever is in office may be one of the best ways to survive today’s harsh political climate.