Witnessing the inauguration of President Trump
By Dickie Dixon
At the fifty-eighth inauguration of the United States of America, Donald Trump delivered a very Jeffersonian, non-politics as usual inaugural address. Appealing to the Anti-Federalist tradition of our country, harking back to Jefferson, he promised to return the reins of government back to the people. Although the tone of the address was not strident, it was not very conciliatory either and promised to deliver what he had said in his presidential campaign. Rattling the cage of the Washington establishment, he spoke to a broader than Washington D. C. constituency which included citizens like those living in the Capitol, who voted against him ninety-six percent to four percent.
Though there were elements of the inauguration that were usual, there were some that weren’t. The inauguration, like that of Ronald Reagan, was held on the west side of the Capitol. The Bible used for him to put his hand on to be sworn in was one used by Abraham Lincoln, the one Obama used; there were two, however, the other one being the one his Mother gave him in 1955. The man inaugurated was the oldest ever to be elected as President, and the richest. One thing that was unusual, however, was his heart. Trump, not a veteran politician, and one of the few ever without governing political experience to be elevated to the highest office in the land, did not use flowery rhetoric nor trite, commonplace, “I’ve heard this a hundred times”– like statements—he simply capsulized his entire approach, America first, into a sixteen minute speech. It was an address delivered with some of the bipartisan members of the Joint Presidential Inaugural Committee like Charles Schumer, but not to sixty Democratic Congressmen who decided to boycott the inauguration rather than demonstrate their allegiance to the republic in principle.
Though it was mainly a peaceful event, he will have his work cut out for him, serving as President to a deeply divided nation, perhaps a nation more deeply divided because of the vitriol of the 2016 presidential campaign. On the one hand, he has Hillary and the Clinton supporters, who will not rest until they appease the loss, and who will have to watch as he enjoys a Republican majority in the House and Senate. But, not only this, he must cope with a deeply divided Republican party, which possessed elements who did everything in their power to prevent him from getting there on January 20, 2017. He must also cope with a media which, in many quarters, did not fairly nor accurately represent the process of the presidential campaign.
As an eyewitness observer of the inauguration and a participant in the process at the local and state level, two things are clear. First, the inaugural address demonstrated continuity with his campaign. Second, the Republicans must get past any gloating in the elections, now they must demonstrate they can govern and well.
Trump, to a nation who was surprised he is there, must demonstrate in the final analysis what every President must: You can say you are going to put the eight ball in the corner pocket; whether you can is another matter. Shakespeare said it best: “There is many a slip twixt the cup and lip.” Another thing is clear, too: If he fails, we fail, for this is our country!