The Atlantic

An Inaugural Celebration That Rings Hollow

Commentators love to praise the peaceful handover of power—but this year, it stands as a reminder of the system’s fragility and shortcomings.
Source: Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Every presidency is different, but inaugural coverage is always the same. Commentators congratulate Americans on the peaceful transition of power and intone solemn sentences about democratic renewal.

There is something unnerving about these reassurances, something overstated, even hysterical. When a British prime minister loses the confidence of the House of Commons and must suddenly trundle out of 10 Downing Street (as some six dozen of them have done since the job was invented in the 1740s; a few more than once), nobody marvels on television how

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic7 min readPolitics
Trump’s Fury at Don McGahn Is Misplaced
The former White House counsel helped stock the federal courts with conservative judges. Now multiple lawsuits involving Trump are headed there.
The Atlantic4 min read
Why So Many Sharks Have Bird Feathers in Their Bellies
Marcus Drymon wasn’t expecting a baby shark to barf up a ball of feathers onto his boat. The shark’s presence wasn’t the weird bit: Drymon and his team of fisheries ecologists regularly assess fish populations along the coasts of Mississippi and Alab
The Atlantic4 min readPolitics
Trump Was Right Not to Sign the Christchurch Call
The pledge to eliminate extremist content online is antithetical to the American understanding of free expression.