The number of congressional Democrats protesting President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration has swelled to more than 50 after Congressman Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, announced Tuesday he would be sitting out Friday’s festivities.
Doggett, whose 35th Congressional District encompasses parts of Riverside and East Austin, joined two fellow Texas Democrats on Tuesday in planning to skip Trump’s inauguration. Doggett cited the president-elect’s recent feud over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend with John Lewis, Democratic House member and civil rights leader of Georgia, as a major component of his decision.
“Respect, like Pennsylvania Avenue, is a two-way street,” Doggett said in a statement Tuesday on his congressional Twitter account. “Instead of uniting our country, [Trump’s] continued unprecedented, unpresidential actions are further dividing it. By repeatedly taking the lowest road, he is not showing respect for the highest office.”
The rise in the number of boycotting congressional Democrats grew rapidly over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend as the President-elect found himself in a Twitter spat with Lewis. Lewis, a civil rights icon who was one of the six organizers of the 1963 March on Washington along with King, announced last week he would sit out Trump’s inauguration because he does not view Trump as a “legitimate president,” prompting the president-elect to question Lewis’ focus on his district while also calling him “all talk” and “no action.”
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio and Rep. Al Green of Houston separately announced earlier in the day they would sit out, with Castro planning on greeting constituents in Washington for the event rather than celebrating the swearing in of a president whom he said shows “contempt for millions of Americans” and then expects “those very people to celebrate him,” according to a press release.
“Donald Trump has shown an utter lack of respect for so many Americans,” Castro said in a press release Tuesday. “His attack on civil rights hero John Lewis is the latest example.”
Castro’s twin brother Julián Castro, who is the U.S. secretary of housing and urban development, also plans on sitting out,
No Senate Democrat has announced any plans to sit out Friday’s inauguration as of Wednesday night, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has suggested the possibility, according to The Washington Post.
“Typically, inaugurations are a bipartisan affair,” said University Democrats member Marco Guajardo, a business freshman. “But because this president is coming in with a sub-50 percent approval rating, there is some polarization as a result of the election. These Democratic House members question this incoming president and his message and the forces to keep him in contention for the presidency, and they are acting on principle when boycotting his inauguration.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. John Cornyn, both Republicans, plan on attending Friday’s festivities, according to their websites and press releases.
College Republicans communications director Haley Steinman said her organization views the boycott as disrespectful of the inaugural event.
“[We] see the inauguration as an event representing the United States’ tradition of peaceful transitions of power and is an important occasion no matter political ideology,” said Steinman, a government junior. “We see this as part of the peaceful transition of power that is a respected American institution.”
The inauguration festivities, which include Trump’s and Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s swearing-in ceremonies, are set for tomorrow morning, while students and Austinites who disapprove of the president-elect will be at protests on campus and in the city throughout the day.