The U.S. and the rest of the world is looking to the Golden State to stand up to power. That starts Friday Jan. 20.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

The 2016 presidential election was not a legitimate one. The eventual winner ran on claims that it was rigged against him for the final two months of his campaign. He knew then, as today, that Russia, a foreign body run by an former spy who imprisons and murders journalists, lawyers and a civil rights leaders like you and I order a side of ranch, did interfere with and influence the election’s eventual outcome.

As it turns out, it was rigged…in the winner’s favor. So he dropped that narrative.

On the weekend prior to his swearing in, one in which America honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and our (continued) struggle for civil rights, the president-elect — a reality TV court jester who rose to political prominence several years ago as the front man for a racist conspiracy theory called the Birther Movement, declaring that president Barack Obama was born in Kenya and his presidency was not legitimate — decided on a specious late-night/early morning twitter rant against America’s greatest living civil rights activist, Representative John Lewis.

Lewis for his part decried the election results starting with his questioning of Russian influence and the ties (financial and personal) of the president-elect and his surrogates to the foreign power. The election results were further muddled by the F.B.I.’s strange decision to infer that it had new intel on Hillary Clinton’s private email server issue just ten days prior to election day — when in fact, they had nothing — casting a further shadow on a campaign and a party that had been already been hacked by the Russians and hurt with an ensuing email dump.

This has been presented as fact by all 17 intelligence agencies in the in wake of the election along with stranger questions around whether the president-elect was dealing directly with Russia and whether Russia has blackmail, or at the very least a large lien on his empire. These are all vagaries that deserve investigation and answers. Whether the next man taking up residence in the Oval Office got there with help from a foreign entity is a foregone conclusion, the extent of their involvement and ownership of him has not yet been discovered.

But Lewis’s refusal to acknowledge the incoming president as legitimate goes even further. Lewis pointed out the soon-to-be commander-in-chief campaigned appealing to people’s most base level of racism, tribalism, nationalism, xenophobia and general hatred and distrust of one another. The president-elect painted America as a scorched Earth full of despair, crime, violence — a land in need of a savior, of militarization, of a plan that only he has — and problems only he can fix.

Whether his voting supporters or those who have bowed down to kiss the ring in the house and congress admit it, they have chosen an authoritarian figure with which to hang their hopes upon.

Most who do that usually end up dead.

Don’t believe it? Just ask Lewis, a man who has been arrested 45 times and beaten within inches of his life by authoritarian figures, about how these things play out.

For his part, the president-elect has done nothing to build bridges or silence critics like Lewis in his time since some voters decided, by an overwhelming minority (almost three million), to put him in office. Instead, he has gone on the attack, offering fragmented hallucinogenic rants typed into his phone at impossible hours to alienate, insult and inflame tensions with stage and screen actors, comedy variety shows, different branches of the intelligence community, China, the media and a union spokesmen….in addition to the hundreds of others (models, MMA fighters, teenage girls) he has tried to besmirch, scandalize or skewer in the past.

This alone is a key disqualifier to hold an office that requires endurance, deference, patience, prudence and a very thick skin that is not the color of orange peel.

I’ve spent the better part of four decades swept up in the majesty of the presidency. To me, whether I agreed with the candidate wholesale or not was offset by inauguration day festivities, a sort of opening ceremonies feel-good kick-off, a renewal. New faces, new hopes and dreams… new dishes even. It is an infusion of energy our country, our economy, our people need — a celebration. So what if it’s all pomp and symbol? It is the best part of who we are represented by the best of us we have chosen to be our spokesman.

But Friday, along with what will be the biggest downgrade of the man behind the Presidential Seal of all time, a kind of already bankrupt re-branding if you will, the person standing up there to take the oath is not only the most questionable, meritless and compromised candidate in our nation’s history — heedless of the office’s gravity — he is also, to his core, evil.

For him to don the magic hat of the highest office and expect the rest of us to roll over or bow down, especially when the party he represents did no such thing to the outgoing president — and for no apparent reason: Agree with him or no, Obama was as measured, calm and scandal-free as any man who has held the office for two terms in this nation’s history — simply is a request too great.

He should not be treated with respect or deference or obsequiousness because he managed to get there — especially by the means he did. He cannot be trusted, he should be questioned, often — and his motives are very far from pure unless we are talking pure greed and pure self-enrichment.

I am a fifth-generation Californian. My son is the great grandson of a potato salesman on one side and Mexican migrant farmers on the other. He represents both sides of the heartland within this Golden State and is fortunate enough to call a coastal swath of it his home. California is the guidepost of this country, it is the best of what we offer here in America. California is the manifestation of the ideals that all men and women are created equal and opportunity for all, not the few, is what breeds success for the many.

California rebuffed the president-elect by never-before-seen margins: His opponent won here by 4.3 million votes — or 61.5 percent. Some dismiss the economic driver of the country as an aberration, a bubble. But it is NOT a bubble. In fact, it is the place where bubbles of hatred, fear of those who look different/worship different/talk different/love different/even eat different, are burst.

Culturally, socially and, quite frankly, aesthetically, we are the nation’s bellwether, curve-setter and place you want to be.

It is in this spirit I laud the actions of California Representatives Zoe Lofgren, Jared Huffman, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Judy Chu, Mark Takano, Karen Bass, Yvette Clarke, Maxine Waters, Mark Desaulnier, Barbara Lee and Ted Lieu for choosing to boycott the inauguration and instead linking arms with the protesters from their districts and focusing on what it’s going to take to keep this state and its citizenry foremost in their thoughts and actions as they lead the resistance against this illegitimate president.

On a personal note, I also implore my representative, the 24th congressional district’s Salud Carbajal, who as recently as December was “giving away” tickets to the inauguration, to boycott as well. Your constituents, starting with my son and his generation, deserve someone who will stand up for them and their future.

Andrew J. Pridgen is the author of the novellaBurgundy Upholstery Sky”. His first full-length novel will be released in late-2017.

 

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