The End Of Apathy: Two Columbus Perspectives On Trump's Inauguration

Jan 19, 2017

Will the presidency of Donald Trump be a disruptive force? Both his supporters and critics think so - but in very different ways.

As hundreds of Central Ohioans head to Washington, D.C. to witness and protest against the inauguration of the 45th president, two Columbus residents talk about their own reasons for joining the crowds.

A Peaceful Transition

Jack Etheridge is a longtime Republican - since the early 1980s, he says. But this is the first time he's attended a presidential inauguration, something he says is a long time coming.

"I would say I'm an average voter," he says. "But you know, we're all, I think, called to participate in governing our country and that does really motivate me."

This weekend Etheridge will travel to D.C. with his 16-year-old nephew, an experience he's excited to share.

Jack Etheridge is traveling to D.C. to attend Donald Trump's inauguration.
Credit Gabe Rosenberg

“I think he’s going to realize how big a country we have, how diverse a country we have, how we as Americans – even though we have different views and to some degree different values – can actually come together to celebrate a peaceful transition of power," Etheridge says.

Etheridge admits that Trump has proved controversial as both candidate and President-elect. For him, that is part of the inauguration's draw.

"I think that adds to some of the intrigue and some of the sense of excitement and perhaps even unpredictability for what's going to happen," he says. "There's nothing like being there to participate in this great American experience."

Unheard Voices

But the inauguration isn't the only big event in the Capitol this weekend.

The day after, on January 21, the National Mall will also host the Women's March on Washington. Organizers say the rally aims to defend the rights of marginalized populations and send a message to the new administration that "women's rights are human rights."

That's the impetus for Christian Tamte, who organized two buses over the weekend to shuttle people from Columbus to the Women's March.

Christian Tamte is traveling to D.C. to participate in the Women's March on Washington.
Credit Debbie Holmes

"We've already seen the Heartbeat Bill passed here in the state of Ohio, and we foresee that this is something that is going to continue with the Donald Trump administration," Tamte says. "He is not on line with what we are and not on line with what we believe."

 

About 110 men, women and children have signed up for the trip, which Tamte says will advocate for civil and reproductive rights, and the rights of immigrants and workers. 

"Our country is deeply divided," says Tamte, who also has never attended an inauguration. "And in order for us to heal the wounds, we need all groups who haven't had a platform to ensure their voices are heard."

Etheridge says he thinks Trump can help elevate previously unheard voices.

But Tamte worries there are particulate perspectives the Trump administration might need to be reminded of: In particular, she wants to bring awareness for "LGBTQIA" rights, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual.

"This is the end of apathy," Tamte says. "This is it. We have to show up, we have to speak up, we have to be there to make change."

Not Wasting Time

It was Trump's potential, Etheridge says, that drew him to the candidate.

"I told people, he's going to be like the Internet, cell phones, or air travel," Etheridge says. "He's just going to be like a disruptive technology, reshuffle the deck,  bring some new perspectives to the way we govern ourselves."

Etheridge doesn’t necessarily think Trump will “make America great again,” as the President-elect often says. He does believe a turn away from Washington control, though, will make the country “greater than it would otherwise be.”

Tamte says she's still "reeling" from the election, which did not go how she expected. Etheridge says he hopes that protesters will respond to President Trump in good faith, instead of prejudging him.

But Tamte says that activists aren't keeping Trump supporters from celebrating - or starting on their own agendas. 

"They're not wasting any time getting rolling with the things and the changes that they feel they need to make," she says, "and we are not going to sit down and waste any time either."