The place I am stood on the foot of American democracy, a sea of flags flutter within the wind, however the Mall is bereft of individuals.
There’s an virtually lethal silence, bar the whirring sound of machines hoisting but extra flags on poles lining the trail to the Capitol.
There are bursts of yellow and blue punctuating the horizon. And but this visible set up represents a really darkish period for America.
A rustic grappling with a virus that is left 400,000 lifeless, security issues depriving folks of the possibility to return right here and safety threats created by a really latest and lethal rebel.
Once I was right here 4 years in the past, the rain poured, the crowds weren’t, as Sean Spicer would later declare, the most important ever. However there was at the least participation, voters you may converse to, a way of momentum and enthusiasm you may hear.
There was cheering, horns, conversations about the place the nation was headed.
Now, the one folks listed below are journalists, us all separated by white tents and closely armed Nationwide Guard, parading previous each couple of minutes.
As I write, a quantity have been relieved of their duties after suspected hyperlinks to far-right militia. It is a metropolis on edge – not solely fearing anybody who may come from exterior, however the motives of these working contained in the pink zone the place we’re.
To get to our white tent, I handed a couple of dozen checkpoints, our luggage checked like by no means earlier than. The siege on the Capitol uncovered some deep weaknesses in safety – politicians simply seconds away from closely armed rioters.
Now there are 25,000 Nationwide Guard – woefully missing on 6 January.
Inaugurations are a grand reopening of the American experiment – an opportunity for presidents to carve their picture of the longer term. Joe Biden could have to take action to an viewers at dwelling and huge swathes of Republicans who do not consider he received legitimately.
He might want to reassure them they’ve a stake in his America and produce a way of enthusiasm, with out the furnishings of fanfare.
However he is bought some good type on his aspect. His political journey to the White Home has been largely delivered via TV due to COVID-19, his missives, his mission assertion usually introduced from his basement.
He discovered the phrases to encourage 80 million to make the effort to vote in a rustic the place voting sadly actually remains to be an effort.
He’ll have stars tomorrow, Woman Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Garth Brooks. However no inaugural balls and no predecessor wishing him luck. Neither of these elements will harm him.
However what he does desperately want is an occasion with out hazard and with out division. America wants some therapeutic calm and maybe, simply an uneventful occasion.