Three hours before his term officially ends, Donald Trump has departed the White House for the last time, spoke briefly to a small crowd at Joint Base Andrews, and now has boarded Air Force One for a final trip as President to his home in Florida.
While he did wish the incoming administration “good luck”, he never mentioned President-elect Biden by name. Trump said he would be back “in some form” and ended his remarks with the famously dismissive phrase “Have a nice life.”
At the same hour, Vice President Mike Pence, along with leaders of both parties in the United States Congress, join President-elect Joe Biden for mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew, a few blocks from the White House.
As Trump the political vandal leaves behind his time in public office, a prayerful lifelong public servant who reads poetry brings solemnity back to the office, at a time of unprecedented national crisis—with more than 400,000 dead in one year, widespread economic hardship and food insecurity.
This transfer of power takes place as we are still coming to grips with the hateful gravity of the terrorist insurrection Trump and his allies orchestrated (to use his own Attorney General’s word).
Democracy has held. The people choose their leaders; their leaders don’t get to determine the outcome of elections. The Constitution provides the structure and sets the boundaries, and at 12:00 pm EST on January 20, all powers of the office pass to the person chosen by the people.