January 20th, 2017: The inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. Millions awaited this day with bated breath, while millions more seemed to dread its arrival. But it came and went, President Obama is no more, now begins the era of President Trump.
Many people had hoped President Trump would make his inauguration speech one that focused on bringing the nation together after a divisive and controversial campaign, the likes of which we haven't seen in a long time. Instead, his words made little effort to reach out to his many opponents and skeptics. It was more reminiscent of a campaign rally. Truly a missed opportunity for a President taking office with the lowest pre-inauguration approval ratings ever. For Trump, there will be no proverbial honeymoon phase.
In his speech, President Trump focused on the populist message that got him elected. Some of his more extreme campaign promises, such as the border wall, the mass deportations, and the repeal of Obamacare, were absent from the speech. The new president made many lofty promises: to bring back jobs, restore infrastructure, and always put "America first, America first."
For the sake of our country, let's hope he finds a way to keep those promises. But when his own party barely supports him, and he has a tax plan that will surely raise the budget deficit, it's doubtful. Ironically, Trump may very well become what he railed against in his speech: "politicians who are all talk and no action -- constantly complaining but never doing anything about it."
This inauguration was marked by two things: huge protests, and noticeably thin crowds. While it can be difficult to make official estimates of the crowds gathered on the National Mall, the image below has been widely circulated since the inauguration.
On the left is Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009, to the right is President Trump's.
That is a stark contrast. A tangible indicator of attendance is metro ridership. According to the D.C. area transit authority, this year, as of 11 am, 193,000 trips were taken on the city's subway system. At the same time in 2009, that number was 513,000. Again, a very stark contrast.
Another big talking point from Inauguration Day were protests worldwide. As Trump was sworn in, protests were taking place just blocks away, as well as in cities across the world. The vast majority were peaceful and without incident. In some cases, however, protesters did clash with police. Cars and windows were smashed and police used pepper spray, flashbang grenades, and tear gas. The protests continued the next day with the Women's March on Washington, with similar marches happening all over the country.
Clearly President Trump has had a rocky start to his presidency. It's his own fault for running such a divisive and controversial campaign. Hopefully, the nation can come together and at least not take any steps backwards over these next four year. But, unfortunately, no matter what he does at this point, Trump has made some permanent enemies on the other side. These next four years will not be easy. These certainly aren't the last protests we'll see. Indeed, protests may be what comes to define the Trump presidency.