Saturday, January 14, 2017

Why the Clintons Should Follow Congressman John Lewis's Lead and Skip Trump's Inauguration


At first, I didn't see anything wrong with Bill and Hillary Clinton attending Donald Trump's inauguration.  After all, there is something to be said for honoring the traditions that mark a democratic transition rather than the kind of seizure of power we see in crackpot dictatorships. But then civil rights leader and United States Representative John Lewis said flat out that he did not see Donald Trump as "a legitimate president".  Trump responded on Twitter with an attempted put down of Lewis's congressional district, calling it "crime infested", "falling apart",  and "horrible".  But it backfired. Lewis's district, to the contrary, includes the busiest airport in Georgia, the wealthy suburbs of Atlanta, the Center for Disease Control and prestigious Georgia Institute of Technology.

This Twitter exchange was a bucket of ice-cold water being dumped on my head.  And it woke me up from the daze I had lumbered around in since the election. Rep. Lewis is offering the leadership so many of us yearn for during one of the biggest crises in the history of the American presidency.  

There is something so ugly and mishapened about Trump being inaugurated for president,  that someone has to take a stand.  What has bothered me about this election is that no one in the Democratic Party has repudiated the Trump presidency.  Everyone has watched its legitimacy unravel. But the only political response was Democratic politicians saying vaguely  "unkind" things about the president-elect.  That is until John Lewis showed the courage to stand up and say what we all know, while showing the path the rest of us must follow. Trump is not America's new president. He is a cunning impostor and we should not pretend otherwise.  

Michelle Goldberg has written a powerful argument in Slate entitled: Democrats Should Follow John Lewis' Lead".  She observes:

Nobody knows where this is all going. Democrats particularly are in a difficult position, because they want to uphold basic political norms, but doing so alone, while the other side shamelessly flouts them, puts them at a constant disadvantage. The peaceful transition of power is a cherished value of our democracy. But it’s not the only value, or the highest one. It should not require us to sleepwalk into authoritarianism. If the price for preserving our democracy is pretending that our would-be god-king-emperor has clothes, then it’s already rotted beyond repair.

We're not talking here about a potentially bad president. We're talking about a man, who did not earn the right to sit in the White House at all.  Every day, we are rocked with a new disclosure about Trump. Aside from the fact that members of his staff coordinated with the Kremlin to bring Hillary Clinton down, he is probably being blackmailed by the Russians as well on account of sexual and financial improprieties.  The president-elect ignores  the possibility of ethics violations by refusing to let go of his businesses.  Trump intends to use influence peddling from the White House veranda to make himself the first multi-trillionaire.

If Hillary announced that she and Bill were no longer attending the Inauguration because of Trump's shameless and unpresidential denunciation of the city of Atlanta and Rep. John Lewis on our MLK holiday, the unraveling of Trump's legitimacy as president would begin.  Everyone is waiting for leadership, for someone at a level comparable to that of the Clintons with the moral courage  to take the first step outside their prescribed political roles and protocols .

Bill and Hillary, don't attend the inauguration.  As for the rest of us, we shouldn't even watch it on tv. 
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