I write this a few days before the Inauguration of Donald Trump.
And as I write this, 60 members of Congress will boycott the inauguration.
They explain their absence in several ways. Some are angry over previous statements about women or Mexicans or Muslims, or the real possibility that his victory depended on interference from the Russians, or, well you get the picture.
I’m grateful that I’m not a member of Congress, but if I were, I would boycott for a different reason. I would boycott out of a lack of respect for the office.
Even in the most contentious days of our nation most of us have recognized the value of the office even if you don’t respect the person who occupies it. As a matter of fact, in 1951 President Harry S Truman fired General Douglas MacArthur. At the time General MacArthur was the Supreme Commander in Korea. General MacArthur disagreed with President Truman’s plans for a limited war and made the disagreement public even after told to knock it off. I wasn’t able to find much corroboration for this but President Truman’s response was: “You may not respect the man, but you will, by God, respect the office. You are fired.”
I don’t believe the Congressmen and Congresswomen who boycott are disrespecting the office of Presidency: I believe Mr. Trump is.
The role of President elect has historically been one of observing and learning. He has famously refused most intelligence briefings, he has broken protocol by speaking directly with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen (which he defended by claiming “she called me”).
In short, his disrespect for the office calls all of us to boycott as defenders of the office.