A plea: Don’t go. Don’t go to the inauguration on Friday.
Oh, I know Bill has to go. There is something essential and meaningful in the notion of “a peaceful transfer of power,” even if the power is being transferred to someone you rightly said “is temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be commander in chief.” You made that statement on September 8. Three weeks later, you said it again, after Trump tweeted an attack against the former Miss Universe:
I mean, his latest Twitter meltdown is unhinged, even for him. It proves, yet again, that that he is temperamentally unfit to be president and commander-in-chief. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a man who can be provoked by a tweet should not be anywhere near the nuclear codes.
Has anything happened since the election to change your assessment? Of course not. The man is worse now than ever. He’s scaring people here and all over the world. And I know you know that. So, why go? Why validate him? You don’t have to. You’re not a former president. You can use your absence to send a very strong message not just to your voters and earnest supporters—I defended you against people on the left and the right—but to all of the nation’s children. They must not, in any way, conclude that Donald Trump is fit to be our president, even if the technicalities of our electoral system demand he assume the office. Your appearance at his inauguration will help send the wrong message—that he is fit—a message that contradicts what you said about him during the campaign. If what you said had any meaning outside a political campaign, you must not go. At the very least you can’t normalize him in the eyes of our kids. And our kids will be watching.
Instead, there is an event the next day. The Women’s March on Washington will begin at 10 a.m. Such marches will take place all over the country. You, by virtue the of the role you played in the past election, need to be at that big march in Washington. You have to. Organizers are expecting 200,000 people, women and men, to attend. You need to march with them. We need you to march with them.
The event’s mission statement includes something that should sound very familiar to you:
The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.
That’s your message, Hillary. That’s what you said you stood for, when you stood against the man who attacked Mexicans and Muslims and mocked a disabled reporter. That’s what you said motivated you when you were running against a sexual predator, a man who threatened to put you in jail, as if the Republicans had nominated a petty would-be dictator of a backwards third-world country. That message is what you championed against a man who openly begged the Russians for help to defeat you, who praised a Kremlin killer before the election and has only grown fonder of him since.
So, respectfully, Hillary—Mrs. Clinton—I ask you to send a much needed message to our country and, just as important, to the world. That message needs to be loud enough to deny Trump and Trumpism any moral legitimacy, even if there is nothing to be done about his undemocratic Electoral College victory. You, better than anyone else, can send that message by staying home on Friday and putting on your sneakers on Saturday and marching.
Join a growing number of Democrats—still way too few—who are boycotting the inauguration. Join John Lewis, who courageously took a stand against the legitimization of Trump. He said, “You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong.” Can you, Hillary? Can you feel at home with something you know is so wrong, so morally illegitimate, so disturbing and dangerous? If you attend that inaugural ceremony, you will at least appear to be at home with it. We can’t see into your heart. But those of us who supported you continue to believe that your heart was always in the right place. This Friday, please show us we were right. Show us you meant it when you said Trump was “totally unqualified” to be our president. You said totally. Totally.
I know such a bold move would bring you much grief. It would be controversial. It would make a lot of people, including Trump, angry. He would lash out at you on Twitter and may even threaten to jail you again. And I know such a move would contradict something you said about Trump on that sad election night. You told us that, “We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.” Well, he will get his chance to lead. The Constitution guarantees that. But after what we saw before, during and after the election, we do not owe him an open mind. You’re wrong about that. G. K. Chesterton once said that,
The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.
Trump has given us plenty of solid reasons to close our minds to the moral legitimacy of his presidency. And you also gave us something solid, after your defeat on November 8:
Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power and we don’t just respect that, we cherish it. It also enshrines other things; the rule of law, the principle that we are all equal in rights and dignity, freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values too and we must defend them.
The peaceful transfer of power is one thing. We’re all with you on that. We must respect and cherish it. But in order to respect and cherish and, more important, “defend” the values of equal rights and equal dignity and free expression, we cannot honor and normalize a man such as Donald J. Trump and what he represents. Your appearance on Friday would certainly honor him, and it will go some distance in normalizing him. Again, don’t do it. Don’t be a part of it.
President Obama has to pass on to Trump the power of the office. Your husband and George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter are right to be a part of that ceremonial peaceful transfer. But your situation is much different. You have played a unique role in our history. Please consider playing a unique role in our future by sending the message that bigotry and racism and misogyny and xenophobia are unacceptable under any circumstances, by sending the message that a bigoted and demagogic man who openly courts an authoritarian thug, who invited him to interfere in our democracy, is, truly, totally unqualified to hold the office we are, out of an anachronistic constitutional necessity, bound to give him.
In defending his own refusal to legitimate Trump, John Lewis said, “when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something.” Mrs. Clinton, you know that Trump’s conduct was not right, fair, or just. You know how reckless and ignorant and dangerous he is, how he is even now upsetting our friends in the world while comforting Vladimir Putin. You fought Trump and beat him in the last election, as far as We The People were concerned. Thus, at this crucial moment, there is no one better situated to meet her “moral obligation to do something” than you. Your personal refusal to attend the inauguration will do something no one else can do with the same force and effect.
In short, please help those of us in the Resistance to, at the very least, morally unpresident Trump.