CNN: A history lesson on presidents who snub their successors’ inaugurations (good read)

Presidents John Quincy Adams, Andrew Johnson and John Adams.

Thomas Balcerski teaches history at Eastern Connecticut State University. He is the author of “Bosom Friends: The Intimate World of James Buchanan and William Rufus King” (Oxford University Press). He tweets @tbalcerski. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion at CNN.

(CNN) The presidential election of 2020 is already one for the history books. After a long campaign set against a global pandemic, it appears former Vice President Joe Biden has defeated incumbent President Donald Trump by a wide margin in the popular vote and a decisive count in the Electoral College.

Nevertheless, Trump has so far refused to concede the election, calling into question whether there will be a smooth transition of power from one president to the next. According to the Twentieth Amendment of the US Constitution, the term of an outgoing president expires at noon on January 20. But Trump has not yet indicated if he would attend his successor’s inauguration.


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  1. Trump is different than all of these defeated presidents, though, in that not only is he contesting the election and refusing to cooperate with his successor, but he has turned much of the Republican Party into a personality cult. Their faith-based belief system is not only in complete denial about his defeat but they have made him the “chosen one” who will bring on the Apocalypse, the beginning of their crazy end-times fantasies. If you don’t believe me, just listen to any sermon on the subject by Pastor John Hagee who claims, “50 million Bible-reading Christians who all stand with Israel” and who all voted for Trump in 2020.

    • To be fair, Tommy, isn’t Biden also different from the defeated presidents’ successors (Jefferson, Jackson, and Grant) in that Biden is gaining a personality cult, as well? A “chosen one” mentality that, regardless of his policy history and actions, he will magically fix things?

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