On January 19, presidential politics expert Prof. Paul S. Rundquist, Consul General for Mitteldeutschland, Scott Riedmann, and American Space Leipzig director, international relations and American politics expert, Professor Crister S. Garrett, invited to a podium discussion with the title: “Before the Presidential Inauguration.” About 52 guests attended the event.
Professor Garrett introduced both experts and moderated the panel discussion. Firstly, he asked Scott Riedmann what the moving day would mean for him in Leipzig and when he was going to change the pictures in the consulate. Scott Riedmann explained that he is required to take down the pictures and he would do it first thing in the morning and replace them with the pictures of the new president, vice president, and secretary of state. Furthermore, he clarified that the ambassador in Berlin will have to leave the country by noon on January 20 while career diplomats will most likely remain in place. Things will change in the coming weeks, as the new administration takes over.
After being asked about the meaning of the inauguration day for American democracy, Prof. Rundquist pointed out that it is the secular equivalent of religious service. People would go in as ordinary people and come out as a much bigger person. The inauguration is a mix of politics, culture, and civic religion with prayers, music, and other symbolic things. As example he mentioned that Trump will use a bible used by Lincoln and a bible from his parents to do the oath of office.
Furthermore, they discussed how much influence new appointee diplomats may have on the political sphere in the future, what the first weeks in office as a new president can say about future politics, and how it is important for diplomats to remain neutral while talking in front of thousands of people.