Unwilling to celebrate the beginning of what he called a “dark and dangerous chapter” of American politics, North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, announced on social media that he will not attend the inauguration of Donald Trump as the nation’s 45th president.
“I will do everything I can to limit the damage and duration of this chapter, and I believe we can get through it,” the San Rafael Democrat posted on his Facebook page over the weekend. “But I will not sit passively and politely applaud as it begins.”
The decision wasn’t difficult, Huffman said Monday in an interview from his Capitol Hill office just before being summoned for a House vote. Huffman, after all, won a third term in Congress from a district stretching from Marin County to the Oregon border that gave Hillary Clinton 69 percent of its votes in November.
The surprise, he said, was how quickly his decision caught on.
The response — nearly 5,000 “likes,” 906 shares and 774 comments — was “orders of magnitude beyond anything I’d ever posted on Facebook,” Huffman said.
“People are really resonating with the announcement.”
In comparison, President-elect Trump’s Facebook post Monday of an old photo of himself meeting Ronald and Nancy Reagan reaped more than 167,000 “likes,” 10,582 shares and 5,319 comments.
Huffman, who said he posts several times a week on Facebook, said most of his responses were positive, sprinkled with some complaints from Trump backers.
“Suddenly, I have these Republicans from Alabama, Indiana and Oklahoma” expressing concern about him skipping Trump’s big day on Jan. 20 and suggesting to Huffman it might cost him at the polls in 2018.
Fat chance, considering Huffman’s 77 percent share of the November vote after raising more than $900,000 to crush a token Republican opponent in a district where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1.
In his post, Huffman said he ordinarily would join his colleagues above the west steps of the Capitol in “honoring a great and solemn American tradition, the peaceful transfer of power which must always transcend partisan differences.”
But, he said, “there is nothing ordinary” about next week’s inauguration, with the nation “entering a dark and very dangerous political chapter.”
“As much as we all hope for the best, we should be clear-eyed about the warning signs of exactly who Donald Trump is and what he will attempt to do as our president,” Huffman wrote.
Trump’s comments since the election have erased any reasonable hope that he will be different in office than he was on the campaign trail, Huffman said Monday. “He’s a president unlike any we’ve seen. A juggernaut of bad ideas, embarrassing conduct and scandal.”
The tough part of crafting the post, he said, was explaining what he would do as an antidote to Trump, which Huffman did not articulate on Facebook.
In Monday’s interview, Huffman said he will participate in one or more women’s rights rallies in the San Francisco Bay Area on Jan. 21, Trump’s second day in the White House.
Only two other members of Congress — Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, and Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Maine — have publicly said they will skip the inauguration.
More will also be absent, Huffman said, declining to name names.