A growing number of US Democratic lawmakers have declared their intent to boycott the inauguration of Republican President-elect Donald Trump in a sharp break with tradition.
More than a dozen Democrats in the US House of Representatives have so far issued public announcements stating that they would not attend the January 20 ceremony after an extremely divisive election campaign, according to media reports.
It is a departure from lawmakers of both parties putting aside their personal feelings to watch the new president take the oath of office. While the majority of Democrats still plan to attend the event, the fact that even a handful are making a point of boycotting shows the depth of antipathy toward the president-elect.
The boycott movement began with Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez who announced on a CNN program in December that he would not go to the inauguration because Trump continued “to spew hatred, bigotry and prejudice.”
Instead, Gutierrez plans to attend the anti-Trump Women’s March on Washington on January 21.
“I went to George Bush’s inauguration, and I work with Republicans all the time,” Gutierrez said in a speech on the House floor this week. “But this is different. I never thought George Bush was trying to make my own country hostile toward me, personally, to my wife, to my daughters.”
Since then Gutierrez has started a trend.
“I will not be celebrating or honoring an incoming president who rode racism, sexism, xenophobia and bigotry to the White House,” said Rep. Barbara Lee, a Democrat from California.
“He called women ‘pigs,’ stoked Islamophobia and attacked a Gold Star family. He mocked a disabled reporter and appealed to people’s worst instincts. I cannot in good conscience attend an inauguration that would celebrate this divisive approach to governance,” Lee added. “On Inauguration Day, I will not be celebrating. I will be organizing and preparing for resistance.”
Meanwhile, more Democrats have said they would skip the ceremony since Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a key civil rights figure, told NBC News in a taped interview on Friday that he did not consider Trump to be a “legitimate president.”
“It will be the first one that I miss since I’ve been in the Congress,” said Lewis, who first won election to the House in 1986. “You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right.”
Trump on Saturday morning returned fire on the top Democrat in a series of tweets on Saturday. “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime-infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results.”
Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva took to the House floor a week before the inauguration to declare that he would go back to his Tucson-area district instead, meeting with constituents.
“My absence is not motivated by disrespect for the office or motivated by disrespect for the government that we have in this great democracy. But as an individual act, yes, of defiance, at the disrespect shown to millions and millions of Americans by this incoming administration and by the actions we are taking in this Congress,” Grijalva said.
Reps. Jared Huffman, Mark DeSaulnier and Mark Takano of California, Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, Lacy Clay of Missouri, Nydia Velazquez of New York as well as Kurt Schrader and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon have also announced boycotts by issuing statements or speaking to media outlets.