Why These Hillary Clinton Supporters Are Attending Trump's Inauguration

Photo: Eva Hambach/Getty Images.
Rows of chairs stretch across the lawn on the West side of the U.S. Capitol ahead of the presidential inauguration.
As a lifelong Democrat who voted for Hillary Clinton, Emily Mamula had a “really good cry” the morning after the election. But come Friday, when Donald Trump takes the oath of office, the 24-year-old will be shivering on the National Mall along with the Republican president-elect’s supporters.

“I still think it’s important to be able to confront the ideas I disagree with,” Mamula said. “This is one of those seminal turning moments in American politics that our kids will ask us about in 50 years... And I just want to be there.”

She isn’t alone. While the crowds filling the National Mall on January 20 will likely be dominated by Trump voters, a number of Clinton’s most ardent supporters still plan to attend the president-elect's inauguration. For some, it’s a way to help bridge the divide between two ends of the country. For others, it’s simply a chance to say "I was there" for a moment in history.

And some women believe being at ground zero for Trump’s inauguration, in addition to the Women's March on Washington the following day, will help them understand how best to fight over the next four years.

This is one of those seminal turning moments in American politics that our kids will ask us about in 50 years... And I just want to be there.

Emily Mamula
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Mamula, who lives in Washington, D.C., initially planned on spending the day far away from the chaos. But Clinton’s decision to attend the inauguration inspired her to do the same.

“We operate right now in our country in totally separate bubbles that have little to no interaction with each other. This is a chance to merge those,” she said. “Clinton going is the first step in bridging the divide in our country. It won’t change the world, but it’s a good step.”

In the weeks leading up to the election, polls leaned so strongly in Clinton’s favor that a contingent of her supporters bought tickets to D.C. for inauguration weekend well ahead of time. Faced with the decision of canceling their trip as a sign of protest or watching a man they vehemently oppose get sworn into office, some women are choosing the latter.

“I thought about dropping out when Trump won,” said Oksana Marquez, a 19-year-old Clinton supporter who signed up to attend the inauguration with her political science class at Campbellsville University, a private Christian university in rural Kentucky. “But whether I like it or not this is America for four years, and so all I can let this do is be fuel to the fire for me.”
Photo courtesy of Erica West.
Erica West sees the inauguration as “a really genuine opportunity to reach out to someone and build a bridge.”
Many of her fellow liberals are tuning out Trump’s inauguration. Dozens of members of Congress are vowing to boycott the event. But Marquez wants to use the experience as an opportunity to learn more about the incoming administration. She hopes January 20 can be an opportunity for people to look outside their own political bubble.

“Progressives can try and ignore the inauguration, but that’s just as bad as when conservatives ignore important social movements,” Marquez said. “Like racism, rape culture... I get so mad at other people when they ignore this stuff because they think ignorance is bliss and if you don’t pay attention, you’re not responsible….Just ignoring it won’t make it go away. We need to rally together so the good is bigger than the bad.”

Heleva Klavin, a 20-year-old Clinton supporter from Virginia, plans to attend both the inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington the next day. There, she'll be one of the more than 100,000 people expected to peacefully march in protest of the new Trump administration, an act they see as an alternate form of patriotism on inauguration weekend.

Just ignoring it won’t make it go away. We need to rally together so the good is bigger than the bad

Oksana Marquez
Klavin said she believes that attending only the Women’s March might be less effective than showing up in force on Inauguration Day.

“The women’s march is great, but that is a very specific, focused event. The inauguration is the main thing,” Klavin said. “Going the day after [to the march] is more passive, it’s less of a statement. We know the women’s march will be peaceful, whereas we don’t know what will happen at the inauguration.”

Trump ran a campaign based, in part, on exploiting racial and lifestyle divisions present in American society. In the weeks following the election, there has been a reported uptick in instances of hate crimes against racial minorities.
Photo courtesy of Oksana Marquez.
Oksana Marquez, 19, is heading to inauguration as part of a trip organized by her school.
That alarming trend will be at the forefront of the minds of some Clinton backers heading to Trump’s inauguration.

“I’m a Black woman who is also pretty queer-presenting, so I have to be very careful in who I talk to,” Erica West, 21, said of her upcoming trip to Washington D.C. for the inauguration. “There may be people there who may not even agree with my existence.”

Despite that risk, West felt it was important to attend what she sees as “a really genuine opportunity to reach out to someone and build a bridge.”

“That being said, I can’t do that with everyone I meet because it may not be a safe thing to do,” she said.

Kassie Little, 19, never saw herself as a Democrat before this election season. But she supported Clinton on Election Day, based on her belief that, “a vote against Trump was a vote for America.”

Still, Little plans to travel to Washington from her hometown of Metropolis, Illinois, on inauguration weekend.

For her, it’s a chance to look for the best in her fellow citizens – as well as in the man who will be leading the country – even if it proves elusive.

“I’m trying to be optimistic and give him a chance,” she said. “I know in my head it’s not going to work out. But it’s better to expect the worst and hope for the best.”

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