How it started.
How it started. Screenshot of trump_counter

Shortly after Trump's inauguration in 2017, John Holt, 64, began counting down the days until the end of Trump's first term, which is when he believed the President would leave office.

But he didn't keep this countdown to himself. He tacked up a marquee displaying the data point on the side of his house in Leschi, and then on the side of his house in Magnolia after he moved, and then on the side of a third house in his third move in four years. He also posted photos of each day's marquee to an Instagram account.

The counter began with a marquee reading "1436 DAYS LEFT," which he hung above his garage. He wanted the numbers large enough for the people at the bus stop next to his house to see the counter easily. His Instagram followers said his counter was the one thing that "got them through" the administration.

The idea was so popular with liberal Seattle that the people who bought his Leschi house asked to keep the original marquee. "The woman of the couple who bought the house thought it was a calling," Holt said. So, for a time, Seattle had two Trump counters.

Holt said those people are now selling the house, and the counter is featured in the promotional photos. If that doesn't encapsulate Seattle activism, I don't know what does.

"They must have decided it has historic value and it will help them sell the house," Holt said. (I couldn't find the house on Zillow, but I'm no Zexpert).

Now, 1,435 days after he started keeping track, Holt has one last number to flip over. After devoting so much thought and energy to resisting Trump these past four years, he isn't really sure what he'll do after the inauguration.


Holt said he originally came up with the idea because he "was so ashamed" that the U.S. elected Trump, a man he and his wife had known on a personal level briefly in the 1990s. "I won't go into specifics," Hold told me, referencing some Broadway connection.

"We knew he was a really awful guy," Holt said. "I thought [the countdown] was a small thing I could do."

Holt's life became the countdown. He didn't miss a day for years. He even made his daughter keep up the Instagram account—posting daily pictures plus social commentary on the Trumpian horrors of the day—while he was on a five-week climbing trip in Asia.

Though he is retired, Holt was not immune to burnout.

Writing the social commentary that accompanied the countdown photos became too much. "I just got too close to the trauma," Holt said. So he took a break. But over the course of the whole administration, Holt thinks he posted over 800 times. He mused about turning the posts into a book.

While he had always "paid attention" and "read the paper," Holt had never been as politically engaged as he was during the Trump administration.

"I think I took so much for granted," Holt said. Now, he thinks he'll stay engaged, but he's already felt himself slipping a little.

"I have noticed I don’t watch Rachel Maddow every night anymore," Holt said. "But I watched last night."

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Still, he thinks the Biden administration will still need to be held accountable since "a lot of promises have been made to a lot of people," Holt said. "There's a lot of work to do."

As for the counter, it's still hung up on the side of Holt's house. An Instagram follower suggested he start using the counter "in the opposite direction to document something positive." Holt doesn't know what that "something" will be yet. (I'm equally interested what other Resistance Dems, like the multiple members of my family who sent me a "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" Trump parody this morning, will do with all their spare time post-Trump.)

For now, Holt might just leave the "000" up for a while to "celebrate that it's done."