January 22, 2017 12:43:56 pm
President Donald Trump delivered an inaugural address true to the core of his anti-establishment populist campaign, confirming that there would be no ‘pivot’ towards a relatively toned down approach from his aggressive campaign assertions. Indeed, many would have taken comfort in is his voiced commitment that “the forgotten people will be forgotten no longer”. But only Trump supporters, who rallied behind him and carried him to victory, appear to be truly impressed by his speech, which was delivered in perhaps the whitest attendance of US Presidential inauguration of modern times.
After initially calling the Obamas “magnificent”, he proceeded to rail against “the establishment” in thinly veiled attacks where he suggested it to be directly responsible for virtually all problems ailing his dark portrait of America and his white working-class electorate. He also omitted an acknowledgement of Hillary Clinton’s presence, who unlike many democrats, chose not to boycott his inauguration.
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“Jan. 20, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again”.
He famously spoke of his win and his inauguration as the moment of American people themselves – attaching particular self-importance to the moment while ignoring that the number of attendees of his inauguration were a small fraction of those of Obama and that he lost the popular vote with a greater margin than any other American president in history.
Akin to the spirit of his Republican nomination speech, Trump presented a fantastical picture of America whose days of glory were squarely behind it, that was losing its military superiority and its middle class prosperity to “ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.” He portrayed crime in gigantic, amplified proportions by painting a dreary picture of the undefined “inner-cities”. While the US certainly has its share of crime issues in several pockets – once again when statistically and factually verified by credible journalists – turned out that most of his overarching claims either distorted the truth or proved false. America is wealthier today than it has ever been and possesses the world’s most formidable military that is better funded than the next six combined. The crime rate has been steadily declining over the years for the most part.
Trump’s transition period from US President-elect to President proved to be more polarising, if possible, than his campaign days, in no small part due to the fact that he responded very poorly to any criticism. There were salutary unifying calls to “all Americans” in the inaugural address but those rang rather hollow to his opponents and doubters after his many ridiculous outbursts against the likes of Civil Rights hero John Lewis, Meryl Streep, The Hamiltons cast, SNL etc. More gravely, Trump’s continuing anti-media crusades have sounded alarms to those skeptical of his impact on the American democracy. A recent Forbes article observed the due cleansing of all mention of climate change and LGBT issues, among others, from the incoming White House administration’s website – indicating a non-existence of the concerns that do not fit into Trump’s semi-isolationist, ethno-nationalist agenda of what is good for the country.
At best, Trump’s inaugural address is just Trump as usual for the Americans who have been wary of him. Amidst investigations about possible Russian interference in the election, Trump’s propensity to be untruthful, suspicions about his tax returns, likely conflicts of interest and many of his cabinet appointees – there has been a growing determination among sections of citizens to embolden and organize to keep his administration in check. Trump had personally drawn unprecedented shock and ire of a majority of American women for his many misogynistic remarks during the campaign and previous records of his mistreatment of them. The Women’s march on January 21 in Washington DC was organised to express the outrage and despair that Trump’s coming to power has caused — due to the wide array of rights which his positions are seen to endanger and undercurrents he has empowered. The protests, which raised voice on issues like women’s rights, reproductive rights, and immigration, acquired a global character with satellite rallies taking place in other American cities and all over the world.
Blindsiding those who don’t support him would not bode well for the President. He cannot keep on pretending to be the President of only those Americans who support him. “Time for empty talk is over”, Trump proclaimed on Friday. Indeed, now his actions as President would speak for themselves.
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