Just a few months ago progressives were warning that failure to publicly accept the results of the election was a threat to our democratic system. Yet, as of today, one-third of House Democrats say they will skip the inauguration of Donald Trump, the public ceremony marking the peaceful transition of power.
Yesterday I noted that the number refusing to attend the DC event was 52 but by today it had jumped up to sixty-five. Very few of these lawmakers are claiming they are too busy to attend. Instead, Democrats have announced they will protest the incoming president by refusing to take part in the ceremony.
One day before the 2016 election, the Huffington Post published a warning about the scary things that could await America if the losing candidate refused to accept the results of the election. The piece was titled, “Here’s What Could Happen If Donald Trump Doesn’t Accept The Election Results,” because, of course, Trump was the candidate who was going to lose. The subhead for the story was, “This is scary stuff.”
Huff Post offered three scary consequences of refusing to accept election results. The first was undermining the incoming president. Political historian Allan Lichtman of American University warned, “If people don’t accept the legitimacy of the president, that could spread to lawmakers.” Could that also work the other way? If lawmakers appear to reject the legitimacy of the incoming President can that spread to the people? Because, having lost the election, that seems to be what Democrats hope will happen.
The second scary consequence was triggering violence. This being Huff Post, the assumption was that crazy Trump supporters would run wild. But there are plenty of intimations of possible violence emanating from the left. Earlier today, Dominic Puopolo of Florida was arrested for posting a video on Twitter in which he threatened to murder the President-elect at the inauguration. Trump has already had one deranged man attempt to kill him at a public event.
Even entertainers associated with the event are receiving threats. TMZ reported two days ago that Jennifer Holliday, who was scheduled to perform at the ceremony, backed out after receiving death threats aimed at her family. Andrea Bocelli reportedly received threats as well, leading him to back out of performing at the inauguration.
In addition, the protesters planning to disrupt the event have stated openly that they would like to shut down streets and, if possible, force the ceremony to be held inside.
Finally, the day before the election Huff Post warned refusal to accept the results could undermine democracy itself. Here’s I’ll quote at length [emphasis added]:
There’s also a threat that Trump refusing to concede could undermine democracy itself.
It sounds extreme. But peaceful transfers of power have kept America a stable democracy for centuries. If that tradition ends, it could shake the belief that democracy is effective and cause voters to become more apathetic or adopt a more extreme political ideology.
Voters should think about how elections work in developing countries, argued Mark Tessler, a political science professor at the University of Michigan. In 2007, he notes, an unclear election result in Kenya triggered violence that killed more than 1,300 people and displaced 600,000 more.
“If people think elections are unfair or rigged or fraudulent in some important way, this has an important impact on their basic commitment to democracy,” he said.
The left was very big on the importance of peaceful transfers of power when they assumed Hillary was going to win the election. Now, just a few months later, a third of House Democrats are refusing to participate in that process. So, by their own lights, a third of Democrats are delegitimizing the incoming president, risking an outbreak of political violence and undercutting the stability of our democracy. Shouldn’t they be ashamed of that?