The inauguration of President-elect Donald J. Trump is now less than a month away, and if you're a political progressive, there's a pretty good chance the thought is making your stomach turn. Really, after such a dizzying, grueling year, this is how it all culminates? With Trump claiming the presidency? Yup, pretty much. But, even though his ascendancy is inevitable, if you're curious whether anything might still cramp his inaugural style, there is one way Trump's inauguration could be ruined. And it depends entirely on the random whims of Mother Nature.
To find a relevant precedent, you only need to look back about three decades into the past, to the year 1985, months after President Ronald Reagan had won his second term in office. While bitterly cold inaugurations are nothing new in presidential history — President Obama endured temperatures of just 28 degrees Fahrenheit during his first swearing-in in 2009 — that Jan. 20, 1985 inauguration set the mark for the coldest ever on record, at a staggering seven degrees.
That, sad to say for Reagan and all those people who worked tirelessly to organize a traditional inaugural outside the U.S. Capitol Building, was simply too dangerously frigid for the festivities to go as planned. Consequently, the swearing-in was moved into the Capitol rotunda, which is why the moment Reagan took the oath of office for the second time looks like this.
This chapter out of relatively recent presidential history raises the question: what if Trump wakes up on the morning of Jan. 20, only to be informed that it's simply too cold for the victory parade and the inauguration in front of throngs of his presumably adoring fans and supporters?
The choice, then, would either be forcing everyone to brave downright unsafe conditions — including the 70-year-old incoming president himself — or to take shelter inside, and thus scuttle all the carefully planned pomp and circumstance.
And while it's impossible for anyone but Trump himself to state conclusively what his preference would be, given his well-demonstrated love of attention and adulation (he was still doing campaign rallies well into December, after all), such a climate-induced snafu could stymie his vision of his perfect big day, if nothing else.
Sure, it's totally cold comfort — no pun intended — if you're otherwise terrified about what Trump's presidency might bring. But after a 2016 in which so many things seemed to go wrong, maybe Mother Nature will lend all the schadenfreude-thirsty progressives out there a helping hand. After all, the inauguration itself may be the last time the American left can relax and take a breath for a while, because with Washington under complete Republican control, there's going to be a lot on the plate.