Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Lewis Leads Dem Boycott of Trump Inaugural
Lewis Leads Dem Boycott of Trump Inaugural
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
January 18, 2017
Congressman John L. Lewis (D-GA) is a civil rights icon. Of that there is no denying. He not only talked the talk, he walked the walk – literally from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 with the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and he has the battle scars as proof.
All that said, Congressman Lewis is a mortal man. He does not walk on water. He is not immune to criticism, and leveeing criticism on Lewis does not make the critic a racist. Yet, a war of words has erupted between the Congressman and the President-elect.
“I do not see President-elect Trump as a legitimate president,” said Lewis, in declaring he will boycott the inauguration of Donald Trump as he is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, January 20. Lewis is of the belief that the Russians had a hand in Trump’s victory, yet not one scintilla of proof has been unearthed to support that claim.
Nevertheless, Trump fired back via Twitter saying Lewis is all talk and no action and that he should work on fixing his district in Georgia, which Trump says needs help. While it is true that Lewis’ district is poor – encompassing the City of Atlanta and surrounding counties – and does desperately need the help Trump recommended, Trump was wrong to say Lewis is all talk and no action. Trump explained that he was not referring to Lewis’ long history as a civil rights activist, but his mostly unremarkable Congressional career. Therein lies one of the downsides and limits of Twitter.
The battle waged on.
Calling Trump an illegitimate president is not just wrong it is false. By a margin of 306-232, Trump won the Electoral College vote over Hillary Clinton, which according to the 12th Amendment to the United States Constitution is what declares a presidential winner. It is due to this claim of illegitimacy that Lewis has decided not to attend the inauguration of Trump and his Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
And that is Lewis’ right – just as it was his right to decline to attend the inauguration of the 2001 swearing in of President George W. Bush following a 37 day recount.
But Lewis is not alone in sitting out the inaugural. As of 4 PM on Wednesday, January 18, 64 Democrat members of Congress are boycotting the quadrennial event. And while that is their right, it is bad form, very petty, and makes those members look small. They are also declining to represent all their constituents – those who voted against and for Trump. More importantly, it is disrespectful of the office of the president.
Former 2012 GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain said on Fox News, the Democrats opting out of attending the inaugural “represent the voice of the black plantation. Yes, I said it. They want people to be kept uninformed.”
Unfortunately, vilifying Trump has managed to claim civilian victims. Marc Lamont Hill, a professor of African American Studies at Morehouse College in Atlanta and an analyst on CNN demonized black visitors to Trump Tower as well as Trump’s “Diversity Coalition.” Hill called Trump visitors such as Steve Harvey, Martin Luther King III, BET founder Robert Johnson, and NFL hall of famer Jim Brown “mediocre Negroes.”
This is precisely the brand of enmity that continues to divide America. Castigating people simply for visiting Trump, for merely keeping an open mind – not even an endorsement – about his future administration is yet another off-ramp on the low road. This black-on-black racial divisiveness serves no one but the race hustlers – people like Al Sharpton who makes a living fueling the fire of racial animus.
I am no fan of Barack Obama. However, were I invited to his inaugurals I would have attended – history was made. Had I the offer to meet with him and share my thoughts on key issues, I would readily have taken the opportunity. There were no mass boycotts of Obama’s inaugurals by a cadre of GOP lawmakers. Yes, debate was lively, as I expect it to be during the Trump administration, but in order for genuine progress to be accomplished, those lively debates must include those on all sides of the aisle – the pro, the con, and the uncommitted.
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.