Why I Will Be Attending Donald Trump’s Inauguration

The morning after Donald Trump was declared winner of the 2016 presidential election, I got out of bed, made some coffee, and then immediately bought a plane ticket to Washington D.C. for Trump’s inauguration.

A few hours ago, I didn’t quite understand why I was shelling out the money—money which, by the way, I don’t really have—to attend an event that a few days ago was just the stuff of nightmares. After a long, sleepless night and an outcome that “disappointment” doesn’t even begin to describe, I felt this primal helplessness in my gut. Buying a plane ticket just felt like the only way I could alleviate myself from the feeling of dread that oozed like a tar down the walls of my stomach.

And, to be perfectly honest, I can’t imagine I’m the only American to have done this.

So, come January 20th, I will be there in the crowd, expressing my anger over the outcome of this election and my genuine belief that our country deserves better than Mr. Trump.

But when I told my father earlier today that I would be attending the inauguration, his tone became a little concerned. While he didn’t explicitly say that it was a bad idea, he did say something that I think we’ll be hearing a lot of in the coming weeks, especially when it comes to protesting Trump’s victory: Look. Like it or not, Trump won. And we need to begin to heal the fractures that have made our country so divided.

When my father said this, I suddenly began to rethink my choice to buy that plane ticket. What was the value of flying to D.C. just to yell and scream and hold signs behind a police cordon? What was the point of fighting a result that is already final? The fact is that Trump won this election fairly, through an electoral system that he accused of being “rigged” until the moment the scales finally tipped in his favor. So, what is the value in inflaming more discord? In straining even further the bonds of American unity?

I‘ve thought seriously about this question, and have decided, now that those immediate feelings of dread have begun to wear off, to still attend the inauguration in January.

But I will not be there to protest the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s ascendency to the seat of president. The race is over: he won it fair and square. We must find some way in ourselves to accept that result. We must also find a way, as hard as it may be, to be optimistic. To believe that perhaps Trump, now that the campaign is over and done with, will tone down his inflammatory rhetoric and begin to display some more presidential qualities: self-restraint, diplomacy, empathy. Perhaps he will actually commit himself to the promise he made in his victory speech, to “be a president for all Americans.”

But I will still be there, in the audience at his inauguration, expressing my outrage, my sadness, and my fury. Because here’s the reality: since Mr. Trump announced his candidacy 18 months ago, he has actively alienated large sectors of the American population: muslims, Latinos, LGBTQ people, women, and people of color. He has actively divided our nation into factions of Us and Them. And on January 20th, 2017, I will be standing with Thems.

My goal is not to antagonize, to shame, or to bully Mr. Trump or his supporters, or to question the legitimacy of his presidency. I merely want to stand with the people who are scared—who, like myself, feel lost in their own country as a direct result of Mr. Trump’s campaign and subsequent victory. I merely want Mr. Trump, as he embarks on his apparent mission of American unity, to see the people he has hurt. To see them in the flesh. I want to stand on the Washington Mall, with the other Thems, as though to say: Look at us. We are the people you’ve pushed away. We are the people you’ve made feel alien in our own country. It is now your job to bring us back into the fold. It is now your job to work tirelessly, selflessly, for us. It is now your job to make a place for us in our own country.

And I’m hoping other people will do the same.