From Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-8) on why he cannot bring himself to attend Trump’s Inauguration. His combination of a desire to witness to peaceful transfer of power yet a total revulsion many of Trump’s actions will no doubt be well understood by many readers:
“These are the times that try men’s [and women’s] souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he [or she] that stands by it now, deserves the thanks and love of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
–Thomas Paine, The American Crisis
January 17, 2017
For the last couple of weeks, I have assumed that I would attend the inauguration of Donald Trump, obviously not to show any support for his politics but as a gesture of constitutionalism, simply to witness the peaceful transfer of power from President Obama to the new administration.
But, as the hour approaches, I realize that I cannot bring myself to go. I wish that these were normal times and that I could sit and applaud the normal workings of government as I did when Maryland Governor Larry Hogan was inaugurated in 2015 in Annapolis.
But these are not normal times and I cannot pretend as if they are. The moral and political legitimacy of this presidency is in the gravest doubt. I cannot get over Trump’s refusal to deal seriously with the constitutional problems caused by his business entanglements with foreign governments and corporations. I cannot get past his stubborn denial of the enormity of Russia’s efforts to sabotage and undermine our presidential election (regardless of the victor). I cannot stomach his relentless trafficking in bigotry, misogyny and fear. And I am outraged and confounded by his continuing provocations against civil rights heroes, such as my colleague the great Congressman John Lewis, union leaders and other individual citizens. Given these dynamics and given that one can never have any confidence in what Trump might say or tweet, I cannot risk my presence at his inauguration being interpreted as any kind of endorsement of the normality of our situation. I will not attend the inauguration. I do not rejoice in this decision or take pride in it, any more than I would rejoice or take pride in going; the inauguration ceremony is just a fact of life now, and we must all deal with it as best we can. I am afraid that these kinds of searing moral and political conflicts are our destiny for a while. (The State of the Union is next up, but I have every intention of going because the President will be entering our Chamber to speak to us.)
On Friday morning, I will be in our district, talking about our constitutional values with young people and preparing for the Women’s March on Saturday (more on that below). I’ll also be participating in a number of events aimed at organizing to defend liberal democracy in America. I invite you to join me as our country and our community prepare for the new era.
Organizing at Events to Defend Democracy
Tonight, I will attend the Refugee Ball at the Sixth & I Synagogue (details available here). Tomorrow, I am offering the keynote address at American University’s “Teach, Organize, Engage: A forum on contemporary politics and the future” at 3:00 p.m. (details available here) and will speak at an event on climate change called “Earth 2 Trump” at 6:00 p.m. (details available here). On Thursday, I will attend the Peace Ball at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture (details are available here, but unfortunately tickets are sold out); and the Peace, Love & Understanding Alt-Inaugural Show (details available here). On Friday, I’ll speak at the UnNaugural Concert in Silver Spring, which will benefit organizations like the ACLU, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Planned Parenthood, the League of Conservation Voters, and the National LGBTQ Task Force (details available here, though unfortunately tickets have sold out); and I will attend the Planned Parenthood Pink Ball (details available here).
The Women’s March on Saturday, January 21
We’ve had an amazing response to our invitation to march with us! More than 1,800 people responded and we have 30 buses headed to the Women’s March after our Breakfast Reception and Rally at the Silver Spring Civic Building. Unfortunately, we have reached maximum capacity and have no more space on the buses! You can still RSVP to the breakfast (here), join us for the rally speeches and revival songs, and then take the Metro together afterwards—this will be fun too. You may also meet up with our group at the National Museum of the American Indian at the Maryland Avenue entrance. Look for a sign that says: “This is what a Popular Majority Looks Like. Congressman Jamie Raskin and Maryland’s 8th Congressional District Proudly Join the Women’s March.”
Inauguration Day Nature Walk in Rock Creek Park
Join me and my friend, author/naturalist Melanie Choukas-Bradley, at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, January 20 at Boundary Bridge in Rock Creek Park! In addition to everything else, our environmental laws are under severe attack right now. Everyone who loves nature and cares about the conservation of our precious natural resources is invited to join me and my beloved friend Melanie Choukas-Bradley, author of the acclaimed A Year in Rock Creek Park, for an Inauguration Day nature walk to celebrate the historic beauty of Rock Creek Park. We will walk until the sun goes down, crossing Boundary Bridge, the historic footbridge from Maryland to D.C. that was built in 1935 during FDR’s New Deal, and then wind our way through the magnificent trees of the floodplain forest. Take heart. If you love and care about protecting our region’s natural resources and the planet, you are not alone. Please sign up here. We can accept the first 75 people who sign up; if you don’t make it, we’ll be doing it again soon.
Thank you for your continuing solidarity, encouragement and friendship. I look forward to seeing you at many of the above events, especially the Women’s March on Saturday!
Very truly yours,