Braving the Inauguration

Greater Than Fear by Shepard Fairey. Used with permission.

Greater Than Fear by Shepard Fairey. Used with permission.

Respect, like Pennsylvania Avenue, is a two-way street.
—Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas)
Inauguration should be a celebration. But we have nothing to celebrate on Jan 20. Instead of attending, I will be organizing.
—Representative Barbara Lee (D-California)
Remember, tomorrow we are not crowning a king, or bowing down to a dictator. Tomorrow our new employee starts his temp job. We’re the boss. —Audra McDonald
Today will be a tough day, but we can’t throw up our hands in despair. We have to fight back. We are not giving up.
—Senator Bernie Sanders



I wasn’t going to watch the inauguration for many reasons.

  1. I don’t want to normalize the election of an unscrupulous, self-serving bully—a travesty made possible by the selfish acts of people over centuries
  2. I don’t want to watch others normalize his presidency—it’s crazymaking
  3. I don’t want to reward his thuggish behavior with polite ceremony (I’m not the only one)
  4. I don’t want to feed his bottomless ego by boosting his inauguration viewership
  5. I certainly don’t want to celebrate the official start of a very dark era in American politics

And I’m not. I didn’t listen to any of the speeches or performances given to honor this dangerous fraud. I didn’t smile at the relatively small but enthusiastic crowds of Americans who descended on Washington to cheer their self-proclaimed champion. I harbor no illusions that today marks a promising new beginning for our country.

However, my pain and grief won’t subside in the dark. I can’t pretend we didn’t inaugurate a new president today. Anyway, ignorance isn’t bliss. So instead of ignoring reality, I watched Donald Trump take the oath of office. I watched to bear witness to this sad, frightening time in history. I watched to confirm that it happened. I watched to remind myself what we’re up against.

I watched Donald Trump—a smug, predatory narcissist—parrot the lines that mark the beginning of each new presidency. I watched Michelle Obama struggle to stay composed in the face of this sickening transition. I watched the comments of countless Twitter users roll in: some delighted, some disgusted, some despairing. I watched myself watching the horror unfold.

And I listened. I listened to Trump’s vile campaign inauguration speech. I listened to him echo the sentiments of millions of people while gaslighting millions more. I listened to which lies lines elicited cheers from the gathered crowds. I listened to PBS pundits dissect the proceedings while trying to remain somewhat objective.

And I’m glad I did. Protecting our personal comfort at the expense of collective wellbeing is a slippery slope. It’s important to take care of ourselves—avoiding gratuitous political coverage can be healthy, especially when politicians’ lies are triggering. But knowledge is power, and courageous engagement is the only way to overcome the considerable challenges we face. Whenever possible, I hope you’ll brave the discomfort and join me.




  1. I saw Cabaret last night, and though I had seen it before, it had an even more ominous foreboding atmosphere, and disturbed me on a completely new level. I will read the text of Trump’s speech, though I’ve already heard too much commentary about it. Obama’s exit speech gives me hope. What a class act he is. I will miss the intelligence, leadership, and kindness that he brought to the Office.

  2. Well said. By watching I felt I was showing respect to the office, to history, even to Prez. Obama and Sec. Clinton and the grace they displayed. The 45th president’s speech was thankfully short and, not surprising to me, uninspiring, dark. How long before enough citizens tire of the new governance and the consequences thereof?

  3. I am watching a timely play, Cabaret. I hope it is not a foretelling, but does serve to call for vigilance. You are correct to not isolate ourselves. I am going to read the inauguration text. Thanks.

  4. I chose not to watch. It’s too horrifying. But we can all take action. Go to Facebook and search for Daily commitment. People are posting phone calls that you can make and things that you can do each day that don’t require much time at all to speak up and let your voice be heard.

    • I understand staying away. For the most part, I did too—just watched the oath and speech and Obamas leaving (I’m going to miss them). Thanks for the tip!

  5. Michelle, I, too, vowed not to watch or engage in any of this today. However, I acquiesced and watched with disgust as this travesty unfolded before my eyes. I believe we have a responsibility to ourselves, as citizens of this great nation, and to each other, to remain aware and to continue to raise our voices in opposition to this xenophobic, hateful, and disgraceful person who is now the leader of the free world. Lord help us!

What do you think?