Trump Arrogantly Declared His Inauguration a National Holiday - Just Like Someone Else


The internet outrage machine kicked into high gear this week when President Trump declared his inauguration day a National Day of Patriotic Devotion. The order itself is fairly inoccuous.

There are no greater people than the American citizenry, and as long as we believe in ourselves, and our country, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

The level of arrogance required to declare your own inauguration a national holiday, though, is astounding. Unsurprisingly, it reminded many of third world despots.

And it’s not far off. Banana republic leaders do indeed tend to engage in this kind of megalomania. Castro declared his revolution a national holiday in Cuba. His successor in Venezuela honored Hugo Chavez’s death with a national holiday. The Day of the Sun in North Korea commemmorates the birth of its first Communist dictator, Kim Il-sung.

One other recent prominent world leader declared his taking office a national holiday. January 20, 2009 was declared a National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation. That date should look familiar. It was President Obama’s inauguration.

The usual tribal cliches will reflexively pour out here. “But but but! Trump bad! Obama good!” From a certain perspective.

From a more objective perspective, though, both declarations were stunning displays of arrogance. Obama believed his election would heal partisan and racial divides, so he declared a holiday to jump start the process. Spoiler alert: It didn’t. Trump believes his election will make the nation more patriotic and unified, so he made it an official proclamation. Again, it won’t.

If you think one man’s election deserved official national celebration but the other didn’t, before either one had actually done anything in office, you’re only declaring your own tribal allegiance, not an objective appraisal.

Some elections deserve celebration, of course, like that of the first black president of a nation built in part on chattel slavery and that continues to struggle with racial justice, or our eventual first female president. But it should be celebrated by the people or their representatives, not the man himself (or woman herself) by national decree.

In a constitutional republic of free citizens, no one’s election automatically deserves a national holiday. Winning a campaign isn’t a national accomplishment, it’s a procedural coin flip. Do something first, then the people will decide if you deserve commemoration.

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