When I signed up for Close Up last fall, I thought Inauguration Day would be a positive event, highlighting what’s working in our country and what we can to do improve America. But that’s not what it was like.
Instead, the Jan. 20 inauguration was overwhelmingly negative with the crowd yelling boos towards figures from the Democratic Party, most notably Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. These ranged from the common “you suck” to the occasional “shut up.” Perhaps the most troubling part of the whole inauguration was when Senator Schumer called for accepting people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and was met with a wave of hatred and boos.
Students from CVHS made the transcontinental trek all the way to Washington D.C. with the Close Up organization to see the inauguration of Donald Trump, as well as learn about government, politics, history, and how to maximize political efficacy.
But most of the 28 students were surprised and disappointed by the negative atmosphere surrounding the event. We even saw a fight nearly break out at a pre-inauguration concert between Trump’s supporters and opponents.
“This is the fourth time I have attended an Inauguration with students, starting with George W. Bush in 2005. This is the first time I have been surrounded by so many people saying awful things about members of the party that lost the election. It was very upsetting,” said Close Up veteran and CVHS teacher Carmelina Frasca, referring to the jeers and boos from many in the crowd.
While Trump’s inauguration drew his most fervent supporters, there was an even larger outpouring of expression the following day at the Women’s March on D.C., only this huge crowd was unified against the new president.
There are estimations that the Women’s March in Washington outnumbered the Inauguration by several hundred thousand, not to mention the millions that marched around the world from Iceland, to Iraq to Brazil.
I attended both the inauguration and the Women’s March, and it seemed to me that the Women’s March had far more positive energy as well as many more people.
Despite the negativity at the inauguration, I’m still glad I went because the experience taught me about our country and it gave me a sense of duty to be involved in local and national politics.
If you are reading this and you are not happy with how these events turned out, I recommend that you take a long objective look in the mirror. Try to see what went wrong, regroup and try again in 2018 and 2020. If you are reading this and you are happy with how things turned out, I recommend exercising some empathy. Lead by example and work for all Americans.
Hopefully as a nation we will be able to bridge this ever-increasing divide and realize that we all have more in common than we have apart.