Opinion

Inauguration protest does little to mitigate partisan bickering

John Lewis, civil rights icon and Georgia Representative, was the first Democrat to boycott the inauguration. 

This coming week, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the president of the United States. His road to the White House has been a long and rocky one, but to the shock of many Americans and people around the world, Jan. 20 he will be sworn into the Oval Office.

Since his election in November, there has been no shortage of outrage. While his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, won the popular vote by more than 3 million votes, Trump took home the presidency thanks to the controversial electoral college. Protests and riots have broken out across the country over the president-elect and his policies, as well as the legitimacy of his win. As a result of the 2016 election and its results, political division has become nasty and stark among Americans.

This divisiveness is not letting up just because the inauguration is near. Georgia Rep. John Lewis announced on Friday that he would not be attending Trump’s inauguration, saying he does not see Trump as a “legitimate” president in response to Russian interference with the election. Lewis, a civil rights icon, was a participant in the Selma, Ala., attacks of 1965 that have become known as “Bloody Sunday.”

In response to Lewis’ boycott announcement, Trump tweeted “All talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!”

Trump’s blatant disrespect to an American hero and civil rights activist is abhorrent. Lewis has made it a point to include fellow politicians from both sides of the aisle, including Vice President-elect Mike Pence, in civil rights memorials and visits to Selma. Improving civil policies and the lives of black people is something that he is passionate about and dedicated toward. By demeaning Lewis, Trump is only confirming Lewis’ concerns about our president-elect. Trump is exhibiting classic schoolyard bully behavior.

This behavior, while repugnant, is no surprise from Trump. We have to remember that our president-elect is the same man who mocked a reporter with a disability, as well as ridiculed the family of a Muslim fallen soldier.

Ever since Lewis announced his boycott of Trump’s inauguration, many Democratic politicians have followed suit. According to CNN, more than 20 Democrats have announced their intention to not attend the festivities in Washington. Many of them are doing so in solidarity with Lewis, but many are also doing so in pure disagreement with Trump and his beliefs.

Although the tensions are understandably high in Washington, a mass boycott of the presidential inauguration is not going to help anything. While it is a moral statement, it is setting up Democrats for failure.

The next four years are going to be an era of massive change, now that both the Senate and House of Representatives both have a Republican majority. While Democrats should not sit idly by while Trump and his administration introduce harmful and controversial policies and laws, they should not further villainize themselves by setting the precedent of refusal to work together and accept reality.

An intensely divisive political environment was a major roadblock for President Barack Obama and many of his attempted policies during his presidency. Republican politicians infamously shut down the government for weeks in an effort to stop the passing of the Affordable Care Act. Obama was forced to introduce new legislation through executive orders so that he could bypass the snarls of Congress. However, while it got work done, it also bypassed the critical system of checks and balances.

For the last eight years, Democrats—myself included—have complained about what thorns Republicans have been in the side of the Obama administration. However, now the tables have completely turned. By opening up the Trump presidency with a boycott of his inauguration, Democrats are sending the message to Trump and other Republicans that there will be no bipartisanship or teamwork during this presidency, but another hard-fought four years of bullying and villainizing the opponent.

Democrats should be above this behavior. In order to find legislation that works for all Americans, they need to ensure they can work across the aisle with their opponents in a civil and adult manner. Teamwork is something that is taught to kindergartners, but apparently we need to be reminded of it when it comes to the caustic environment of today’s political scene. Instead of boycotting Trump’s inauguration, attend, commit to making compromises and doing your best regardless of who’s in the Oval Office and show that you are not taking the coward’s way out.

Samantha is a sophomore majoring in journalism and communication arts. How do you feel about the boycott of Trump’s inauguration? Please send all comments, questions and concerns to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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