by Sarah Kelley ’18
Before watching President Donald J. Trump take the podium for his inaugural address, I had questions, but I also had hope. I wondered how Trump would decide to move forward as the 45th President of the United States. I wondered how he would present his plan to all of those watching—both citizens and politicians. And I wondered how he would calm the distress, fears, and emotions of many concerned Democrats and Republicans alike.
I was hopeful that, as a now inaugurated president, he might change his tactics—perhaps softening some of the populist messages that he rallied so many supporters around throughout his campaign—to reach all Americans, whether they had voted for him, or not. I was hopeful that he might take a more conciliatory tone during his address, to recognize all of those who were uneasy, fearful, or even angry about the future of our nation.
And finally, I had the highest hopes that President Trump might even allude to how he was planning to work with our government, and specifically Congress, moving forward, during a time in our nation when the political divisions are so acute, not only between Republicans and Democrats but also amongst his very own party members.
And while I and many other citizens alike wanted these questions answered and these hopes realized, for many citizens, myself included, Trump’s inaugural address fell short of truly relieving any of our apprehensions or emotions and failed to provide concrete answers to many of our questions.
In describing the transfer of power that the inauguration represented, Trump defined it as not the transfer of power from one administration to another, nor as the transfer of power from one party to another, but as the transfer of power from Washington to the people. And while this may sound nice to some, for many others the deep implications of this statement lead one to only question—what, if any, plans does Trump have to actually work with our government to move our country forward?
While our political system is far from perfect, I could not wrap my mind around how our own newly elected president could be jabbing at politicians and Washington when in fact those are the very people with which he is going to have to work. If our president were truly interested in the possibility of accomplishing anything positive during his presidency, one would think that even a slightly different approach to addressing Washington would have greatly improved the message and reception of his address.
And although this dig at Washington would not leave my mind for days to come, the many other statements Trump made throughout his address seemed to leave even more questions unanswered and widened the already present political divisions of our country.
Between Trump’s wide-sweeping promises to eradicate radical Islamic terrorism from the Earth, and his statements declaring us “protected” and “always be protected,” his suggestion to the nation that, “There should be no fear” was extremely hard to swallow.
The more words that fell from our president’s mouth, the more I was filled with apprehension of what is to come, the more I recognized that my initial questions had been left unanswered, and the more I lamentably understood that my own hopes, and the countless hopes, fears, doubts, and feelings of many other citizens around the nation would not be relieved nor lessened by this particular speech.