In this context, Vice President Pence could contribute powerfully to a peaceful transition and the mending of a badly frayed social fabric. At least he should welcome Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhof to the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory, to show them around their new digs, emphasizing their cordial relations. To turn up next day and to honor Biden’s assumption of power would also provide a personal Declaration of Independence from Trump’s angry, ugly obsessions.

For four years, Pence defended the president at every turn but as the Orange Overlord leaves office, he must become his own man at last. With Trump openly musing over his own potential candidacy for a triumphant 2024 return, and with other allies and family members available as more logical heirs to Trumpism, Pence would preserve, rather than damage a potential run of his own by displaying dignity and class to conclude his vice Presidency.

Most significantly, his participation in a cherished ritual of the Republic would signal recognition that the election and its winner both counted as legitimate. A platform appearance by the departing VEEP might be criticized as shallow symbolism but at a time of poisonous polarization, healing gestures can only help.