At the January 20th inauguration ceremony for President Donald Trump, one of the dozens of chairs that went unfilled was reserved for Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who represents Lower Manhattan. Mr. Nadler, one of more than 60 Democratic members of the House of Representatives who chose to boycott the event, instead spent the afternoon at his Manhattan district office, on Houston Street.
“The rhetoric and actions of Donald Trump have been so far beyond the pale, so offensive” Mr. Nadler explained, “that I cannot in good conscience participate in this honored and revered democratic tradition of the peaceful transfer of power.” Mr. Nadler listed among Mr. Trump’s transgressions, “his continued failure to address conflicts of interest, to adequately divest or even to fully disclose his financial dealings, or to sufficiently separate himself from the ethical misconduct that legal experts on both sides of the aisle have identified.”
“We cannot normalize Donald Trump,” Mr. Nadler continued, “and we certainly cannot turn our heads and ignore such a threat to the institutions and values of our democracy. His refusal to adequately address his business conflicts of interest, to show remorse for the inflammatory rhetoric in which he engaged during his campaign, his attempts to intimidate the press, and his continuing failure to demonstrate any interest in uniting Americans, reveal a deep disrespect for the office of President.”
“I refuse to sit idly by as he flaunts his illicit behavior without regard for the American people’s interest,” the Congressman continued. “I refuse to abide any effort to undermine a free and independent press, which serves a pivotal role in any democratic system and whose rights are guaranteed by our Constitution. I refuse to applaud for a man with a history of offensive and abusive behavior to women and minorities. I refuse to treat January 20, 2017, as business as usual.” Mr. Nadler concluded, “for these reasons, I have no interest in participating in the inauguration ceremony of Donald J. Trump.”
Although Mr. Nadler and Mr. Trump have a long and contentious history, in which the real estate developer has repeatedly directly ad hominem attacks and personal insults at Mr. Nadler, there was no question of the Congressman being turned away from the inaugural. Because Congress officially hosts the swearing-in ceremony, all members of both the House and Senate are automatically invited. Typically, all 535 members attend. This year, however, more than one-third of the House Democratic caucus refused to attend.
The day after Mr. Trump’s election, Mr. Nadler posted a lengthy reflection on Facebook, which began, “today, we find ourselves at a deeply challenging and demoralizing moment for our great country. Millions of Americans are walking around in a state of disbelief, of grief, anger, and frustration, as a campaign capitalizing on our nation’s worst impulses won the day. We recognize that we are facing an unprecedented threat to the progressive values that so many of us hold dear — equality, pluralism, mutual respect, and decency — and that even our democracy is on the line.”
“We have successfully resisted regressive forces in the past,” he continued, “and I am hopeful that we will prevail going forward as we face these challenges together. I am personally inspired by the millions of Americans who I know will join me and the other leaders in Congress to resist the kinds of bigotry, hatred, and isolation which have been used to exploit the very real economic insecurities in our country. While President-elect Donald Trump has indeed won a majority in the Electoral College, Hillary Clinton appears to have won the popular vote. And millions of Americans have loudly rejected the corrosive and hate-fueled politics that have been on display.”
Mr. Nadler concluded, “I fundamentally believe that the institutions which have endured in this country for 240 years can and will provide a foundation for the defense of our values and democracy if our citizens continue to make their voices heard loudly and do not shrink from this struggle. For our children and grandchildren, we must now stiffen our spines for this fight, because there is no time to waste and this is a fight we must not lose.”