At latest count, there are well over 60 Democratic members of Congress who are boycotting the swearing-in of President Trump today.
In doing so, they may be trying to make a political statement of displeasure about the outcome of the election. But what they are actually doing is protesting America itself, and the very idea that the people of the nation choose their elected President.
The first and only violent transition of political power here in America took place back in the 1770’s, when a group of courageous British colonists risked their lives, liberty and property to take on King George III. Ultimately these brave people became the first generation of Americans.
Not too long after that, the people, through their elected representatives, adopted a Constitution — a blueprint, as it were — for how our uniquely American form of government would be structured. Article II of our United States Constitution lays out the process for electing the President.
And since the ratification of this foundational document well over two centuries ago, our democratic republic has stood as a shining example to the world of how political power can transition, peacefully, from president to president. Of course there is no better example of this than those occasions when the president of one party is leaving, and a president is being sworn in from the other party.
Every four years (except when a president is re-elected), on January 20th, this transition of power between presidents takes place in a very public ceremony. This event is a very official government function. It is hosted by the government of the United States, it is held on the steps of the United States Capitol, and the oath of office for the new President is conducted by the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. This official inauguration event should not be confused with the many celebratory events that take place before and after it — these are private events.
With rare exceptions over the years, certainly in modern history, it has been the case that the swearing-in of our new President has been broadly attended by U.S. Senators and Members of Congress, Supreme Court Justices, and perhaps most importantly of all, by the outgoing president. This peaceful transition of power is a tremendous symbol of the health of our country. Maybe, sometime, there will once again be a violent transition of power in America — I hope not! But it certainly isn’t now.
When elected federal legislators announce that they are boycotting the official swearing-in of the new president, they are not protesting the person that was elected, they are protesting America itself.
Certainly members of Congress who do not like Donald Trump, for one reason or another, can skip attending any of the dozens of celebratory balls, galas, parties and receptions that are taking place before and after the official swearing-in, and in doing so avoid any perception that they are pleased who actually is being sworn into the office.
As of the writing of this column there are 15 California Democratic Members of Congress who have announced there is somewhere else they think they should be other than the swearing in of the new President: Karen Bass, Tony Cardenas, Judy Chu, Mark DeSaulnier, Jared Huffman, Barbara Lee, Ted Lieu, Zoe Lofgren, Jerry McNemey, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Raul Ruiz, Mark Takano, Juan Vargas and Maxine Waters.
Ultimately, boycotting the swearing-in is their right — and in doing so, they are taking an action equivalent to burning an American flag, which is also their right.
But I believe that for an elected member of Congress ,being on hand to affirm and support this peaceful transition of power between chief executives is their responsibility — one they are shirking to make a cheap political statement that does more to diminish themselves than anything else.
Jon Fleischman is the Politics Editor of Breitbart California. You can find him on Twitter here.