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Opinion: Trump's absence from inauguration probably best

President Donald Trump [AP Photo/ Evan Vucci]
President Donald Trump [AP Photo/ Evan Vucci]

President Trump will not attend President-elect Joe Biden’s swearing-in Wednesday, and perhaps that’s for the best, given what has transpired since the election.

Many fans of the outgoing president, in Oklahoma and across the country, would no doubt disagree with that assessment — their loyalty is unwavering to the man who spent his time in the White House bucking established norms and fighting for them.

They would like to offer one final goodbye in the spotlight, as supporters of previous outgoing presidents have done. But Trump himself chose to skip the inauguration, and his actions since Nov. 3 cast a dark shadow over much of what he should have been able to tout on his way out.

These include the 2017 tax cut that helped Americans of all income levels and contributed to what became a vibrant and growing economy. That economy, buoyed by easing of regulations, produced a record-low unemployment rate for Blacks and Hispanics.

Trump signed the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill that, among other things, eliminated the “three strikes” sentencing provision for some offenses and gave judges greater discretion in sentencing nonviolent crime offenders.

During the past four years, the United States became a net exporter of energy, something many experts long believed was impossible. The Trump administration also made tremendous strides in the Middle East, brokering four Arab-Israeli peace accords. Again, many felt such advances could not happen.

Trump placed three conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, establishing a 6-3 conservative majority that has the potential to shape the court for decades.

After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the administration led Operation Warp Speed, a public-private effort to produce a vaccine. It succeeded, with vaccines coming online before the end of 2020 — a remarkable achievement.

Yet these accomplishments, and others, are eclipsed by Trump’s post-election actions. He spent two months insisting the election had been “stolen,” even as all of his lawsuits was rejected, often by conservative judges. He hurt the GOP’s chances to control the U.S. Senate by telling voters in Georgia, in advance of two runoffs, not to trust the results. Both Republican candidates lost.

The nadir of Trump’s term came Jan. 6, when supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol seeking to stop the work of formally tallying the Electoral College votes. One protester was shot and killed; a Capitol police officer died after being attacked. Trump’s attempts to calm the crowd were belated and half-hearted. The House impeached him a few days later for “incitement of insurrection,” making Trump the first president to be impeached twice.

Michael Graham, a political columnist for, noted correctly that many of the 75 million people who voted for Trump in November did not sign up for what happened Jan. 6. The riot “was a painful, shameful embarrassment they will not soon forget,” he wrote. Nor will anyone else.


Opinion editor Owen Canfield is in his 18th year writing editorials for The Oklahoman and has spent nearly 40 years in journalism. Email him at or call him at (405) 740-7624. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a print or digital subscription at

Owen Canfield III

Owen Canfield has written editorials for The Oklahoman since 2003. Prior to that, he spent 19 years with The Associated Press in Oklahoma City. He is a 1981 graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He and his wife, Lori, have four children. Read more ›