History provides some indication of what Inauguration Day 2021 may look like. In the past, three outgoing presidents — John Adams in 1801, John Quincy Adams in 1829 and Andrew Johnson in 1869 — refused to attend their successors’ inaugurations. Poor form even then, they all the same provide an apt example for what may follow in today’s divided political climate.
In highly polarized times, in which the results of an election are called into question, an outgoing president’s refusal to attend the new president’s inauguration has yielded surprisingly beneficial results for the country. In all three instances, the incoming president went on to run highly popular administrations and win two terms in office.
All this may bode well for Biden’s political future.
Here’s a look back on the three outgoing presidents who boycotted their successor’s inauguration:
John Adams (1801)
John Quincy Adams (1829)
Andrew Johnson (1869)
Looking back, these three examples of recalcitrance from presidential incumbents should be taken with a grain of salt, since every other outgoing president whose term expired has attended his successor’s inauguration. But if Trump continues to call into question the results of the presidential election, he ought to follow the example of his long-ago predecessors and just stay home.
Of course, if he does so, he will risk the same fate as prior boycotters of presidential inaugurations. In each instance of these past presidents, the next president moved beyond the snub and steered the nation for not one, but two terms in office. Whether this will mean an “Age of Biden” remains to be seen.
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