Inauguration Day: What departing traditions has Donald Trump ignored?

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As Donald Trump leaves office today and has decided to break centuries long tradition by not attending Joe Biden’s inauguration, The looks into what other traditions have been snubbed by the outgoing President.

Election Night

Traditions start early on in the transitional period, as early as election night when a projected winner becomes clear. The loser will usually concede, allowing the process of exchange to begin. There is no legal requirement to concede, rather a graciousness to the winning candidate.

Following this, Presidents will speak of their commitment to a smooth transition for the next administration, speaking to the public and encouraging them to support to the President-Elect.  

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This is something that did not occur until weeks after the 2020 election night as Trump repeatedly threw doubt at the result, challenging its authenticity and legality.

When the vote has been accepted, the peaceful transition of power leads to many traditions up to inauguration day, that this year we have so far seen to be ignored.

White House Visit

In tradition, during the weeks leading up to the inauguration, the President and First Lady invite the President-elect and his wife to the White House. Traditionally the First Lady will invite the incoming first lady on a tour of the living quarters, showing her around as she prepares to move into the White House

Jill Biden’s spokesperson, Michael La Rosa told USA Today: “We have not heard from the First Lady’s office.”

Oval Office Note

Every president since Ronald Ragan has left a handwritten note left in the oval office for the incoming President, and since, a tradition was born. In these letters, the outgoing President often expresses well wishes and luck to the new President. Notably in George H. W. Bush’s letter to Bill Clinton where he writes, “I’m rooting hard for you.” Many have shared doubt that Trump will do the same.

Inauguration Day

On inauguration day itself, many traditions take place that displays the success of peaceful transfer and respect for democracy. Before travelling to the Capitol for the inauguration, the President-elect and outgoing President are said to enjoy some brief lunch and a drink at the White House, before then travelling together to the Capitol.

And finally, the attendance of the inauguration itself, a tradition upheld since the inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant in 1869. During his speech, the new President traditionally turns to his predecessor, wishes him well and thanks him for his service to their country.

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This year Trump will not be attending the inauguration, nor will he be present to partake in any of the pre-ceremony traditions as he leaves DC before Biden takes office. Trump is scheduled to fly to Palm Beach, Florida, where he will be staying at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

The rejection of centuries-old traditions as Trump leaves the White House seems to follow suit from words spoken by his son in law, Jared Kushner, on the night he was elected in 2016: “He’s not going to be a conventional President.”

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