Katherine Clark to skip Trump’s inauguration in protest
WASHINGTON — In a break from tradition and from the rest of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, Representative Katherine Clark plans to boycott the upcoming inauguration of Republican President-elect Donald Trump as a form of ceremonial protest.
Clark, whose district includes many of the northern and western suburbs of Boston, said she believes attending the inauguration would “normalize” Trump’s promotion of “bigoted, misogynist, anti-Semitic, and racist claims.”
By not attending the Jan. 20 swearing-in, Clark would be flouting years of precedent. In interviews with other members of the Massachusetts delegation, a wall to wall collection of liberal Democrats, some of Clark’s colleagues said they felt it was important to attend the ceremony out of respect for the American democratic tradition.
“I support the peaceful transition of power, but I don’t feel that I need to attend the pageantry associated with and for this president,” she said.
Among 535 House and Senate members, Clark appears to be part of an exceedingly small minority to announce a boycott of Trump’s swearing-in, which will take place on the west side of the Capitol overlooking the National Mall. In December, Illinois Representative Luis Gutiérrez said he will not attend the ceremony and will instead join protesters on Inauguration Day.
Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, two fierce critics of the incoming president, confirmed their attendance through statements.
Representative Seth Moulton of Salem, who considered not attending the inauguration, said in an interview he later decided to go because he thought it was “the best thing to do for our democracy.”
Moulton acknowledged the long history of members of Congress attending the inauguration regardless of party or policy differences, but like Clark, he said Trump’s unique unfavorability among his constituents weighed on him.
“I’m still going to stand for our values and to fight like hell” against Trump, he said.
Throughout the week, the Globe contacted each member of the Massachusetts delegation or their representatives — nine House members and the two senators — to ask about their plans for the inauguration.
Representative Michael Capuano of Somerville said he could have a scheduling conflict that would prevent him from being in Washington.
“If I don’t attend, it would not be to make a statement,” he said.
Representative Jim McGovern said he’s “attended every presidential inauguration” since he was elected to Congress in 1996 and will attend this year.
Representative Stephen F. Lynch of Boston said he always planned to attend. “I will be there,” Lynch said. “It’s out of respect for the office you should attend the inauguration. It’s a basic courtesy that you extend to the president of the United States.”
One member of the delegation, Richard Neal of Springfield, did not respond to a request for comment.
Other politicians are coming forward this week with their plans.
Trump’s former opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, confirmed that she would attend the event along with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Former President George W. Bush, a Republican who did not vote for Trump, said this week that he would also attend.
“I understand anger, and some people may have been angry when I was president. But anger shouldn’t drive policy,” Bush said recently in Dallas. “What needs to drive policy is what’s best for the people who are angry.”
Jimmy Carter was the first of the former presidents to commit to attending the ceremony. George H.W. Bush and his wife will not attend because of their advanced age, they announced this week.
While respecting the tradition of the inauguration, some Democratic lawmakers are trying to find different ways to needle Trump.
McGovern said he plans to attend the women’s march scheduled in Washington for Jan. 21, the day after the inauguration. Moulton, who plans to attend the same protest, said he is chartering a train car so a group of Massachusetts residents can attend.
Because interest was so high from his constituents, Moulton is looking into procuring a second car. Each holds more than 80 people.
“I’m trying to empower people,” Moulton said.
Clark — whose office said Thursday that she had won a coveted spot on the Appropriations Committee — said she respected the opinion of others who disagree with her choice.
“People will come to different decisions,” Clark said. “But there is nothing about this presidency and his rejection about his core American values that I want to normalize.”