Donald Trump took over as the 45th US president on Friday, January 20th, 2017 after winning a highly divisive campaign. Trump at and after the inauguration, behaves in the same way as he had conducted his upstart campaign, with a mixture of blustery salesmanship and contempt for the established political order.
In doing so, the new Republican party leader sent a clear signal to the country and the world: He plans to govern as he campaigned, refusing to align himself even with his own Republican Party and taking his message directly to the American people.
Trump assumed the presidency of a country still unsettled after a polarizing election and entered office with less support in polls than any other president in recent history. Trump won the majority of the US Electoral College vote, but lost the popular vote to his opponent, Hillary Clinton, by nearly 3 million votes, making any attempt to unify the country that much more difficult.
In a ceremony that capped a remarkable rise to power, Mr. Trump presented himself as the leader of a populist uprising to restore lost greatness. He outlined a dark vision of an America afflicted by “the ravages” of economic dislocation and foreign exploitation, requiring his can-do approach to turn around.
“I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never, ever let you down,” Mr. Trump told hundreds of thousands of rain-soaked admirers and onlookers in a forceful 16-minute Inaugural Address from the West Front of the Capitol. “America will start winning again, winning like never before. We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.”
According to analysts, Trump did nothing to dispel concerns that he would bring the cult of personality he built over the election campaign into the White House, and he offered little in the way of olive branches to the tens of millions of Americans who did not vote for him in the most divisive election in modern US history. A former reality TV star,
Donald Trump offered an apocalyptic vision of reality: an America besieged by crime, immigration, terrorism and unfair trade deals. “The American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” he pledged, as he presented himself as a champion of the ordinary American.
“The gloomy picture Trump sketched of the nation flies in the face of evidence that the economy is in healthy shape, crime is down and the nation is relatively safe and secure,” wrote James Olipher of the Reuters. “He did nothing to dispel concerns that he would bring the cult of personality he built over the election campaign into the White House, and he offered little in the way of olive branches to the tens of millions of Americans who did not vote for him in the most divisive election in modern U.S. history,” her added.
After warning the public on the extent of the problems, Trump suggested, as he did during his campaign, that he and his “movement” are the only solution. He did not mention the Republicans in Congress with whom he will partner to govern and certainly not the Democrats who have fiercely opposed him.
“We are transferring power from Washington D.C. and giving it back to you, the American people.” Trump campaigned as an outsider, railing against the sins of both his Republican Party and the Democratic Party. And, it became clear as he delivered his speech on the steps of the Capitol, that he intends to remain that outsider, the rebel leader who takes power with one foot still on the battlefield.
In Trump’s speech, historians said, there were echoes of Franklin D. Roosevelt with Trump mentioning “the forgotten” Americans left behind by the forces of trade and globalization, of Richard Nixon’s “silent majority”, and of Ronald Reagan’s pledge to restore the nation’s greatness.
Trump has told visitors in recent weeks that he had looked to the inaugural addresses of Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy for inspiration. There were echoes of both in his words: Reagan’s blunt rejection of the Washington status quo (“government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem”), and Kennedy’s call to join a grand national project (“the torch has been passed to a new generation”).
But Mr. Trump did not have the uplifting vision with which Mr. Reagan ended his speech. And he attached his Kennedy-like promise to send forth a message to his campaign slogan “America First.” According to him, “We will seek friendship and good will with the nations of the world,” he said. “But we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.”
He got started right away with rolling back the policies of his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, by issuing orders freezing new regulations from recent weeks and ordering agencies to “ease the burden” of the Affordable Care Act during the transition from repealing to replacing the law. He also concluded the NAFTA treaty relieving the US of its obligations to the world treaty that Obama had signed years ago.
Trump spent little time trying to expand his appeal to the majority of Americans who view him unfavorably, according to opinion polls. Instead, he appeared to speak directly to his most fervent supporters.
Hours before his departure, outgoing President Barack Obama posted on Twitter to thank followers and hint that he would not fade away. “I won’t stop,” he said. “I’ll be right there with you as a citizen, inspired by your voices of truth and justice, good humor, and love.”