Two weeks ago, I noted that virtually no Republicans supported the self-described “water protectors” making their voices heard about the threat posed by the Dakota Access pipeline. The outcome of the 2016 presidential election demonstrates just how little Republican voters care about environmental protection. However, those who do recognize the importance of safe drinking water–and a stable climate–will certainly be out in force during the inauguration of Donald Trump on January 20, 2017.
Remember the protests at George W. Bush’s inauguration in 2001? Michael Moore provided a brief reminder in Fahrenheit 9/11:
As the New York Times reported back then:
There were minor skirmishes with the police and a few arrests but no serious injuries, property damage or disruption of the inaugural parade.
As President Bush’s limousine passed, many waved signs proclaiming ”Hail to the Thief.” Others carried American flags with corporate logos replacing the 50 stars. An egg was thrown at the president’s car.
Along the parade route, the jeers often drowned out the cheers for the president…
These were the first substantial demonstrations at an inauguration since tens of thousands protested the Vietnam War when Richard M. Nixon took the oath of office for the second time in 1973.
The demonstrations against President Nixon in 1973 and President Bush in 2001 will be mild compared to the demonstrations against Donald Trump when he is inaugurated two months from now; Nixon and Bush combined didn’t pose as much of a threat to American democracy as Trump does today. When those protesters hit the streets, they will send a message to the world: Trump does not truly represent this country. He only represents, and cares about, himself.
Of course, the coverage of those protests will be as slanted and as dishonest as possible; after all, according to the Fourth Estate, protests are only legitimate when right-wingers hit the streets in outrage. (Remember the horrible coverage of the Occupy movement five years ago?) However, for many Americans, the slanted coverage will not matter; after all, such coverage will come from the same broadcast and cable entities that essentially put Trump into the White House.
Days prior to the protests at Bush’s inauguration, Bill McKibben observed:
One plausible reading of the new scientific data [on human-caused climate change] is that we’ve waited too long already. Ice is melting in the Arctic and in our glaciers at a galloping pace. Coral reefs are bleaching to extinction in warmer water. We may have set in motion forces deeper than we may be able to deal with. So environmentalists have no choice but to press harder — to make the case that this is the most morally compelling issue of our time. Because even if we swallow our fear to approach the problem optimistically, one thing is certain. We don’t have another decade or another administration to waste.
McKibben’s words are even more accurate today than they were when Bush and Co. took over. Those who will make their voices heard on the streets of Washington, D.C. on January 20 will condemn Donald Trump for his disregard of climate science, his disregard of democracy, his disregard of decency. He will not listen to their words–but the world will. And the world will know who is right.