Two days after this column is published, the 45th President of the United States, Donald John Trump, will be inaugurated into office. Ever since I can recall, every four years on my birthday, the president is sworn into office. Prior to Barack Obama’s ascension, my emotions toward that day ranged from disinterest to acceptance. When Barack took the oath, I watched the event for the first time in total awe and disbelief that a black man would be sworn into the highest office in the land during my lifetime.
I voted for Obama twice. But that doesn’t mean I was in automatic agreement with his policies or his politics. I have never professed that Obama should be placed on a pedestal, beyond scrutiny and castigation.
Truthfully, after he began his second term in 2013 and Valerie Jarrett made the pronouncement that immigration reform was going to be Obama’s legacy, I wished I could take my vote back. That statement also told me that black folks weren’t going to be a major part of his agenda even though a lot of black folks had voted for him the second go-round, believing that Obama couldn’t do anything for them the first go-round but would take care of us during his second term.
Both of Obama’s terms have been colored by the way he was treated. In response, I have never seen so many black people talk about respecting the office of the president. Here are some of the ways Obama was disrespected:
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer finger-pointing him; Rep. Joe Walsh screaming out, “You lie!” while Obama was speaking to Congress; a New York magazine’s depiction of the Obamas as terrorists; criticizing the Obama girls because of their teenage dress style; and the leaders of the House Republicans inviting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to speak before Congress without consulting Obama.
So one would think Democrats would be cognizant of such bad behavior recently thrown at a Democrat president. With a Republican president soon to take office, they would show the world some class and not resort to the same behavior as Republicans.
Ha! That ain’t gonna happen! Already before Trump has taken office, his young son has been derided and had questions arise about being “autistic.” Nude photos of Trump’s wife, Melania, have been posted all over the internet (side note: when I Googled them, not a single one showed up. Interesting!). As of Monday, Jan. 16, at least 22 Democratic members of Congress are claiming they will boycott Trump’s inauguration. And the few African American performers who choose to perform at the inauguration have been derided until many of them changed their minds.
As a society, we are deteriorating into the worst of what we should aspire to be. The bullying that is going on reflects an American culture of selfishness and willfulness.
A quick check of historical records shows this is not the first, nor will it be the last time that politics gets ugly every step of the way. Go back to the 1820s and then President John Quincy Adams boycotted the inauguration of President-Elect Andrew Jackson. There was mudslinging then with allegations that Jackson’s father wasn’t pure white and his mother a practitioner of the world’s oldest profession. In turn, Adams was accused of having been a pimp when he served as the Russian ambassador. Just a small reminder that bullying and mudslinging ain’t new.
We survived it 200 years ago; we’ll survive it now.