Speaking this morning on BBC radio, Dr McCrisken said:
"President Trump’s legacy is being written right now. He’s ending his presidency under such dark clouds - he’s been impeached, there’s going to be a trial in the Senate that could convict him and prevent him from becoming a candidate again for the Presidency, so he’s leaving with lots of controversy – which of course is something that he’s always cultivated to a large extent, he wants to make everything about him.
"Even today, by not showing up at the inauguration, by having a separate departure address, by issuing pardons including to his close former adviser Steve Bannon, he’s still cultivating that attention. That’s going to be the biggest Trump legacy - the degree to which he has attempted to shake up American politics – but the normality of American politics continues, we’re going to have a handover of power today through this inauguration, in the way that it always happens, every 4 years and the pendulum will swing again politically back to the Democrats.
"There’s lots of pomp and circumstance around the Inauguration but the main moment is at noon, when Joe Biden will take the oath of office to become President of the United States – place his hand on a bible and say the sacred words with the Supreme Court Chief Justice presiding, and then Kamala Harris, very significantly, will also be sworn in as Vice President. She’s the first woman to become VP and the first VP of Black and South Asian heritage. It’s a really significant moment for both of them.
"After the swearing in the next significant moment is the Inaugural Address, the first time Joe Biden speaks to the country as President. He’ll try and set the tone for his presidency – we can expect him to seek unity and healing but also assert his policy positions and his approach and set himself apart from the last four years under Trump.
"Biden wants to hit the ground running, as soon as all the ceremonies are over today he’s going to be heading up to the White House and he’ll start business as President. One of the first things he’ll do, which a lot of Presidents do when they take office, is issue a series of Executive Orders – these are orders that are given directly by the President to the rest of the Executive Branch to implement policy in particular ways, and he’s going to use these to very quickly overturn some of the things that Trump did, like re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement, changing policies around immigration, changing policies around COVID-19 as well.
"But he’s also putting forward some really significant legislative proposals to Congress, he’s seeking a very quick economic stimulus, another 1.9 trillion dollars of COVID relief, and a new immigration policy is in the offing. COVID-19 particularly is the thing he really wants to challenge as quickly as possible and try to turn around the situation in the United States where the virus is still ripping though the country – from his position as President, he’s going to try and get 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days, that’s what he’s promising.
"There’s a lot of challenges here and it’s going to be very difficult for him - particularly being overshadowed perhaps by the impeachment trial – so it will be an interesting few weeks and months ahead at the start of his Presidency."
20 January 2021
Dr. Trevor McCrisken Associate Professor, Politics and International Studies
US presidential politics, US foreign policy, US elections; politics in popular culture; US military force, counterterrorism and drones