Vowing to return the country to the people, President Donald Trump unveiled on Friday his vision for the United States, and the world, that hewed closely to his campaign promise of putting ‘America First’ in trade, manufacturing and foreign policy.
“Today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another. But we are transferring power from Washington DC, and giving it back to you, the people,” he said in his inaugural speech.
“We, assembled here today, are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first.”
The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. From this moment on, it’s going to be #AmericaFirst🇺🇸— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2017
Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, he stated, “will be made to benefit American workers and American families”.
“We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs,” the Republican said.
The new President promised to fix the economy, bring jobs back to the US, “reinforce old alliances and form new ones” and “unite the civilised world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth”.
Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on a rain-swept day that was steeped in traditions but marked by an unprecedented boycott by lawmakers of the inaugural event, and record number of protests across the city and country.
Wearing a dark suit with red tie, the 70-year-old business tycoon from New York, who ran and won as an outsider, took the oath of office with his hand on a family Bible and one used by the 17th president, Abraham Lincoln, for his own swearing in.
Incoming First Lady, Melania Trump, who wore a sky-blue coat, held the Bibles as Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts administered the oath of office.
Clarence Thomas, the only African American on the Supreme Court bench, sworn in Mike Pence as vice-president in his deep baritone that is infamously rarely heard in court; he once went 10 years without uttering a word.
Trump’s rival from the presidential election, Hillary Clinton was among the guests who attended the solemn ceremony held under a light drizzle on the West Front of the US Capitol, home to both chambers of US Congress.
“I’m here today to honour our democracy and its enduring values. I will never stop believing in our country and its future,” Clinton said in a tweet hash-tagged #inauguration. Conceding defeat after election day, she had asked for Trump to be given a chance.
Clinton was there with former presidents George W Bush, Jimmy Cater, and her husband Bill Clinton. Bush was accompanied by his wife Laura.
Prior to the inaugural ceremony, the Obamas hosted the Trumps to a traditional tea at the White House from where they drove to the swearing-in. Obama will leave a note for Trump, welcoming him to his new job, as part of the inauguration day rituals.
Only earlier this week, Obama’s note from his predecessor George W Bush was made public. In the 2009 letter, Bush wrote, “There will be trying moments. The critics will rage. Your ‘friends’ will disappoint you. But, you will have an Almighty God to comfort you, a family who loves you, and a country that is pulling for you, including me. No matter what comes, you will be inspired by the character and compassion of the people you now lead.”
Protests mar inaugural day
Central Washington DC turned into a mini-fortress for the day with miles long fencing, barricades and security check points as an unprecedented number of protests were being staged all around the venue, but not close enough to disrupt it.
The inauguration ceremony was hit also by an unprecedented boycott by dozens of Democratic lawmakers critical of the incoming president and angered by his criticism of Congressman John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement.
Experts and commentators noted that while there have been boycotts by lawmakers, never at this scale. There were around 60 according to one count on Friday, among them Pramila Jayapal, one of the four Indian Americans elected to the House of Representatives this time.
There are concerns and worries among minorities about the incoming administration stemming from Trump’s campaign rhetoric and those of his supporters, specially about illegal immigrants, Muslims and Hispanics.