This last weekend, I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to sit among my fellow Americans as we witnessed one of the most revered ceremonies in American history. However, the experience I had was unlike the experience I was expecting. In fact, the predominate feeling I had leaving the ceremony was not unlike how I feel after attending a bitter, drawn-out and fruitless wrestle between minds and bodies over an unrewarding piece of rubber. In short, an esteemed ceremony carefully thought out by the founders of our country felt more like a football game than what it was intended to be.
It was 6:15 in the morning and 35 degrees when we arrived at our gate. The early morning cold reminded me of many a fall day spent as a spectator of our local high school team, and based on the manner and dress of the people around me, the crowd I stood with would not have been distinguished among a roaring hoard of tired, ill-mannered parents come to see if the money they had invested in football jerseys was really worth it.
Profanities and complaints filled the air. Adults laughed ignorantly at the statistics and figures produced by the administration in previous years, while their over-stimulated children cried and numbly repeated the overused phrases they had picked up from their parents talking with their friends.
The ceremony began with ballads from the orchestra and band that screamed of classic Americana. Unlike my friends and I, the crowd did not hang onto every note in full appreciation of the order of events. Instead, they chanted with impatience, “TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!” My friends and I strained our necks to see as members of Congress and the Supreme Court were ushered onto the capitol balcony. Meanwhile, the crowd strained their voices to boo and cheer at various political figures with no more decorum than they would if they were attending a pep rally in which the only purpose of the entertainment was to gain confidence by means of belittling others.
The most awe-inspiring moment for me occurred as the former presidents and their wives joined each other on the balcony. I was inspired by the grace and respect they conducted themselves with, but the crowd would have none of this. Instead, they turned their hatred on Hillary Clinton as if she represented every victory they had lost and every failure they were responsible for. The people in attendance were not here to show respect for the ceremony or the leaders of their country. They were here to be entertained and so they might further the delusion that they exist at the center of the universe once they post their victory on social media.
My heart sank with every new figurehead booed by the crowd. Chuck Schumer. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Hillary Clinton. Former President Barrack Obama.
Leaving the event, we made our way through the crowds as Trump supporters clashed with the hoards of protesters, both hungry to create conflict and exchange insults. Vendors profited on the hate of the crowd as they sold paraphernalia of political figures with crude sayings and raunchy humor.
I attended the ceremony believing in the principles the founders believed when they created the inauguration. In this one moment, all the leaders of America were to be able to gather together, despite political party or opinion, and appreciate the fulfillment of representative democracy. It is in this fulfillment that inclusion, acceptance, unity and strength- the true values of Americanism- are to shine through and leave us all with a renewed sense of hope for the future.