“Will you watch the inauguration?”
It’s a question I’ve posed to friends, a question that’s been rolling around in my head.
There are a lot of people who argue for watching something, anything else. It’s a compelling argument. Bill Scher of the New Republic said that viewing, even tacitly, boosts Trump’s ratings and engorges his influence. It’s a fair argument: Trump’s actions garnered him so much free press through unrelenting media coverage. According to a Nov. 9 CNBC article, Trump’s campaign team spent $238.9 million, compared to Hillary’s $450.6 million.
And so if this was still the campaign, I would agree with the argument of looking away for ratings’ sate. But this isn’t. He will be inaugurated. He will be our president. The Trump presidency looms over all of us with the iron heaviness of a train about to hit. But much like looking away at the train comes near, not watching Trump’s inauguration won’t make his presidency hurt any less.
In a great Vulture piece (@Vulture, hire me), writer Kathryn VanArendonk said that this does not apply to any “puff piece” spun around the Trump family. Feel free to boycott everything else the Trump family has touched.
After the election’s results came out, everyone was in shock. It was palpable in the air, heavy and tumultuous. And so for the next three months, we’re been in a purgatory of pseudo-normality. It’s lulled us back into relative complacency. Not anyone’s fault—because to remain in a continuous state of fear and anxiety is completely destructive. But much like having a bad dream, when we had that respite of waking up, we wanted to sink into that comfort.
But this is like the bad dream of giving a presentation in class—you wake up, sweaty and panicked, having just come from a dream where you forgot your laptop and your pants. You flop back against your pillows, your heartbeat stuttering. It’s just a dream. Your eyes flick to the chair, where your pants are, and your desk, where your laptop charges. It was just a dream. But you still have that scary presentation, so your relief is tainted by the awareness that it is temporary.
I’m going to try to watch the inauguration. I might not be entirely successful, but I want to witness of it as much as possible. For a lot of reasons.
Trump used the media to his advantage. He provided soundbites, he acted the part, he fed the media’s ravenous hunger for “scandal” and “drama.” Don’t let the media filter the inauguration for you. Witness it yourself. For as much as it will be a Roman Triumph of Trump, it will also be a testament to his rampant incompetence. Witness it in its fumbling glory. Don’t take your eyes off him for a second because the moment you do, you allow him to contradict himself and change the narrative. Hold him accountable.
Like the great Oprah once said: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
This incoming administration has shown us who they are. Betsy DeVos had her confirmation hearing without completing an ethics review on how she would avoid conflicts of interest in her business when she came into the position. According to CNN, 14 of the 21 nominees still must have their hearings, and only five of them have finalized their required paperwork. The Senate made a middle-of-the-night movement to begin repealing the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Mitch McConnell painted himself and the GOP as the victim when he said that Democrats said they would block any Trump nominees to the Supreme Court—something the Republicans did just a few months ago, and something the GOP has been doing throughout the entire Obama presidency.
Watch everything. Watch how they address fact that dozens of representatives are boycotting the ceremony. Watch how they introduce Trump. Watch the Women’s March the next day. Watch how the two differ, how from the ground up there is a strength rising that belies the gilded falsities Trump is trying to make us believe.
Watch everything. Witness everything. Don’t let anyone take your right to knowledge away from you. Take it into your own control.