The Divided States of America: Donald Trump’s Inauguration

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. A lot of people are happy about this, while a lot of people are also very unhappy. Politico Magazine stated it best:   “Donald Trump is the first commander-in-chief never to have served in public office or the military; he enters the White House with historically low favorability ratings; and he won an election despite losing the popular vote, after a campaign marked by scandal and unprecedented foreign meddling.”   Whether you like him or not, that is the absolute truth, and Trump has shown no humility to his unprecedented situation.   Donald Trump’s inauguration is currently being remembered for the large protest and riots seen throughout Washington D.C., other American cities, and even around the world. A popular image went viral on the internet comparing crowd sizes the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009 to Trump’s in 2017. Trump’s crowd was obviously and significantly smaller than Obama’s. However, giving him the benefit to the doubt, Obama’s inauguration was much more historic being that he was the first African-American president, but Nielson Co., a company that tracks TV habits and ratings, noted that Trump’s inauguration was the 5th most watched since 1969.   Trump inaugural address was far from spectacular, and there weren’t many memorable quotes like Franklin Roosevelt’s, Kennedy’s, or Reagan’s. On the internet, a specific phrase was found similar to Bane’s speech in the 2012 film The Dark Knight Rises. His speech did reveal that he plans to put “America first” by pursuing protectionist and isolationist policies that are very relevant to the Republican proposals of the 1930s.   In bigger headlines, large protests and riots happened during the inauguration festivities. Washington D.C’s 3 electoral votes did go to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election by a massive majority, so it is not unusual to expect that the citizens of the District of Colombia were going to be upset during his inauguration. In other major cities that generally voted for Clinton, similar protests were conducted.   The protests were heavily criticized for their violent and destructive behavior. These kind of protest have become mainstream around the world. The Arab Spring of 2011 was the most prominent and historically influential, but similar protests have been seen in Ukraine, Thailand, Venezuela, and currently in Mexico. However, most of this was January 20th. The events on the days after the inauguration were more prominent.   Women’s Marches were conducted in large numbers all around the country and the world. The marches happen the day right after Trump was sworn and continue. Much of the political motives behind the march were based on Trump’s rhetoric and policy proposals on women’s right to abortion, and the Republicans’ views on family planning. The marches included many well-known female figure including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and film actress Scarlett Johansson. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was also found at the marches, alongside former DNC chairwomen Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Hillary Clinton tweeted support for the marches.   The marches have been held in higher regard for their more peaceful and organized conduct. Some critics have wondered whether or not these individual, who strongly voicing their opinion against Trump and his administration, actually voted in the 2016 election. As recorded, Clinton’s loss was partially attributed to reduced voter turnout in states that had a larger voter count in 2012. Trump didn’t exactly take voters from Clinton; instead, she lost votes from her own base. This leads to the question of whether these active protestors fully took advantage of the democratic process.   In less than a week, Trump presidency has without a doubt revealed that the United States population is strongly divided more than ever. However, this is not anything new. The Tea Party protests and some of the absurd rhetoric from conservative voices during Obama’s presidency constitute as some of the early factors of polarization. Obama was one of the more liberal and left-leaning presidents in history. Clinton’s strategy was to push the party to the center by contrasting with Sanders, but Sanders’ strong support for leftists policies only indicate that Democratic Party will be under pressure from the left.   As Obama was the very liberal, Trump’s brand of conservatism pushes towards out-right nationalism. Though he intends to shrink the size of the federal government and give more rights to the states, his plans are not exactly fiscally conservative as he plans to increase the country’s already massive defense budget with bigger and larger ambitions not seen since the Cold War. He is planning to provide sweeping tax breaks towards businesses, but has threatened a “border tax” against businesses trading internationally. Much of this breaks from Reagan’s neo-liberalism, and resembles the late Hugo Chavez’s protectionist policies in Venezuela.   All in all, protest or no protest, is it very hard to properly predict Trump’s potential. The man himself has never been in public office, and a private citizen who’s ran a successful business for decades could surprise liberal and conservative voters. However, at this very moment, the American populace is absolutely divided, and it is even more complex than typical racial and party divides. Obama is gone, Clinton lost, and Reagan is dead, so the only person with the responsibility to unify these divided states is Donald John Trump as the new President of the United States. I, and many Americans, have little faith that he will succeed. Then again, I had little faith he’d actually win the election.
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