Inaugural speech presents Candidate Trump, shifting to President Trump

Jacob Ballmaier, Staff Writer

All eyes were on Washington last Friday as Donald Trump assumed the office of President. Yet the more important matter, arguably, was his inaugural address. The inaugural address has traditionally set the tone and goals of the President. It also serves as a unifying message meant to heal the divides brought on by elections.

President Trump’s speech, however, felt like another campaign stump. There were natural calls for national unity. Yet the invigorating, populist sentiments he ran on were spread throughout his speech. The President made a point to promise that he is “transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.” He targeted past politicians, saying that “Washington flourished — but the people did not share in its wealth,” echoing the anti-establishment theme core to the Trump campaign. The irony was tremendous as he blasted politicians while on a stage full of them, the people he must now work with to run the country.

However, the inaugural address was also uplifting at times. Trump noted that “we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.” Trump’s calls for solidarity through patriotism made it seem like he could really bind the nation’s wounds. He looked like a true leader. He looked presidential.

The problem is that the President is still trying to get elected. The populism message is the message his campaign was built on. Echoing it now is good for the approval of his supporters, but the promises he made in his speech to build new roads and renegotiate trade deals are decisions left up to him. It is difficult for him to be a man of the people when he is not supported by all of the public. Following the inauguration, millions of people organized in major cities for the Women’s Marches, partly to support women’s rights and partly to send a message to President Trump that they do not feel represented by him. How can Trump espouse populism when, in a twist of irony, more people came out demanding support from him in Capitol protests than there were people celebrating at his inauguration?

The new President’s first week has been tumultuous to say the least. Over his first weekend, aside from the Women’s March, Trump met with the CIA, which he had previously vilified. He also declared a “running war with the media,” scaring many journalists. With so many twists and turns in his first few days, it is hard to imagine what four years with Trump will look like. We can only hope that President makes good on promise that America “will win.” With the division in America, we need it.