Protesting political faux and foes

Our congressional leaders to step up to help, collaborate and guide, not boycott.

Daily Editorial Board

More than 60 members of Congress are planning to boycott Donald Trump’s Friday inauguration at Capitol Hill, citing opposition to his divisive policies, and calling his presidency illegitimate due to allegations over Russia’s interference with U.S. election outcomes.

One of the congressman boycotting — Rep. John Lewis from Georgia’s 5th Congressional District — argued in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” which will air Sunday, that he did not see Trump’s presidency as legitimate. Lewis and many other legislators view Trump’s mandate as inadequate due to Hillary Clinton’s nearly 3 million vote lead in the popular vote.

Boycotts have had a vital function in activism throughout American history. Iconic boycotts, like the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott, were effective because of the consolidated power of the boycotters. African Americans at the time comprised 75 percent of the ridership of the busses in Montgomery.

In the case of Trump’s boycott, the situation is quite different. The Democratic Party on the whole was handily defeated in electoral votes and congressional seats. Democratic-elected officials have very limited power to block any moves made by the GOP — this is already evident with the Affordable Care Act, which is widely expected to be gutted by Congress.

Boycotting the inauguration is a symbolic action that will mark the transition of the Democratic Party into a party of obstruction — something nearly all Democratic leaders criticized the GOP for doing during Barack Obama’s presidency.

And while Democratic bases will rally around their legislative leaders, progress on important issues that necessitates bipartisan leadership will once again fall short.

This isn’t what the Democratic Party should become. Avoiding obstructionism doesn’t mean compromising the foundations of the Democratic Party — it means avoiding futile and symbolic tactics with the purpose of sticking it to the other side.

Boycotting’s only impact will be to raise some eyebrows, and draw attention to an outcome that will not change — if anything, it will provoke Donald Trump into more rash action.

This speaks broadly to what role the Democratic Party must have moving forward. The debate should be centered around the issues facing our country and not attempting to denigrate the foundation of our democracy which the electoral process built. The reality is the GOP was — unfortunately, for very many Americans — effective in their tactics to ascertain control of the House, Senate, and Presidency. The Democratic Party must reevaluate its strategy to be more effective in the coming years.

Our country cannot afford empty moves by the only political organization substantively standing between our civil liberties and Trump. It needs congressional leaders to step up to help, collaborate and guide their Republican colleagues to avoid the worst outcomes.