The 68 or so ‘critters who are “boycotting” the Inaugural are, I suppose, entitled to suddenly find they have something else to do that night — wax the dog, shampoo the cat, make a drug buy, whatever.
But I remember something from my American Diplomatic History classes in college, which were (the way the professor taught) sort of an advanced Civics class on steroids. Not quite Heinlein’s History and Moral Philosophy, but elements thereof.
The prof said that our tradition is that the outgoing President always attends the inauguration of his successor — even if he has to be dragged there kicking and screaming. Apparently the Secret Service (and their predecessors in that job) see to that. The story was that Truman absolutely did not want to attend Eisenhower’s inaugural — he and Ike didn’t get along very well — but he manned up (as Truman always did) and soldiered on.* And I can imagine Hoover probably would have happily given FDR’s first inaugural a miss. Can you imagine Johnson and Nixon? Ditto Obama with Trump. But it just isn’t done. Why can’t the wayward congresscritters man (or woman) up and do the same?
The prof also said that no foreign dignitaries are invited to join the official party or to attend the major ceremonies. This is OUR time. We owe our independence, wealth, and power to nobody but ourselves. Contrary to a soon-to-be former president’s pronouncement, we DID build this.
Politics aside, when we get done fighting our quadrennial intramurals and actually elect a new president (or re-elect the incumbent**), the nation is supposed to come together, put that all behind us, and acclaim the new president. None of this “he’s not MY president” shite — at least not until he turns out to be, well, Obama, who was, for at least his second term, hardly representative of anyone right of center’s idea of the direction the country should be taking.
By and large, though, in 2009, the right was willing to give Obama a chance. He blew that chance, of course, as many of us figured he would, and his lock on Congress with it (which really should have told him something), and then he simply played a six-year game of “I won” and “I have a pen and a phone” to avoid working with Republicans. At that point, no, he wasn’t my president. The question, of course, is whether he was anyone’s president after the 2010 midterms.
But the time for divisive politics is over. Donald Trump says he wants us to unite. He wants this to be a country we are all a part of and can be proud of. To him, the things that unite us are stronger than the things that divide us.** In truth, it has always been thus, if we are willing to admit it.
The ‘critters who are boycotting the inaugural are, in that tradition, almost committing an indiscretion beyond the pale. They believe in division and are being divisive. They believe they can force failure on Donald Trump by turning their backs on him and declaring him illegitimate. And yet…they do not have majorities in Congress, they are losing governors’ mansions and state legislatures left and right, and they control only small slivers and bits of America. This attitude on their part seems destined to lead to more failure on their part, not failure on Donald Trump’s part, because Trump is not obliged to seek compromise with them. (I think he will, because that is his nature, but I certainly think they’ve burned most of their bridges with him at this point.)
But let’s think about this for a moment. According to official results of the 2016 election, 136,628,459 Americans voted for president. That’s a lot of voters, about 7 million more thain in 2012. Yet, “[e]stimates show more than 58 percent of eligible voters went to the polls during the 2016 election”. Folks, that means that 42 percent didn’t think this election was important enough to cast a vote. That means about 98,937,850 voters went completely untapped for one reason or another.
I don’t know about you, but I suspect that if Trump had spent more money on GOTV efforts in the last couple of months of the campaign, he might have picked up enough votes to landslide Hillary. They were only separated by a couple of million votes.
Of course, that’s entirely meaningless, since we’re not a democracy — we’re a federal republic, and we have an Electoral College that expresses the democratic will of the states as to who will be the leader of the federal republic. The states vote in the Electoral College based on whatever manner they have each provided to choose their electors. In all 50 states that happens to be by holding an election and either handing the winner all of their electors or dividing them up in some way that has been determined by the state legislature. They could as easily choose them by reading a horoscope or taking the augurs, or by having the elector candidates play Russian roulette.**** But all of the states, one way or another, have chosen to give the people a voice by letting electors be chosen based on a democratic election within the state.*****
The Electoral College is part of the Constitution, and has been from day one, and it’s how we have run our federal elections for president since 1789. It’s hardly the first time the Electoral College winner hasn’t won the total popular vote, either — but again, that’s completely irrelevant.
And that’s why claims that Trump’s presidency is illegitimate fall flat, and the bad attitude on the part of the 68-odd Democrat congresscritters who’ve found something better to do with their day tomorrow don’t look like they are standing up for principle at all.
They just look like sore losers. And they are.
* As I recall the story, Bess and Mamie hit it off famously when the two couples met for the obligatory coffee at the White House before heading up Pennsylvania Avenue, and that was part of what thawed Truman out.
** Or, in Obama’s case, the incompetent.
*** Hmm. Where have I heard that before? (If you’re not a Scottish Rite Mason in the NMJ, you probably won’t know.)
***** I think they should be chosen by the legislatures. But I think senators ought to be chosen that way, too, the way God and the Framers intended, and not the way the ridiculous 17th Amendment changed things in 1913.
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