Editorials

President Trump must speak for us all

President Donald Trump delivers his inaugural address after being sworn in as the 45th president on Friday.
President Donald Trump delivers his inaugural address after being sworn in as the 45th president on Friday. Associated Press

A new president deserves every chance to succeed and our best wishes.

In his inaugural address Friday, Donald Trump promised a brand of populism and patriotism that will appeal to many Americans, particularly his base.

But by failing to reach out to the other half of the country with a more unifying message, Trump is making it difficult for the rest of the nation to rally behind him.

With a worldwide audience watching, Trump mostly delivered an amplified version of his campaign rally speeches.

He attacked the political elite of both parties and gave cause to further alarm our allies with an “America First” trade and foreign policy. While he pledged to address the very real problems of crime and poverty, he painted a dark and exaggerated picture of “American carnage” in our cities. He again cast himself as the one who can accomplish what his predecessors sharing the stage couldn’t. He displayed little magnanimity to former presidents or his opponents, and offered scant inspiration to a country yearning for common purpose.

Trump could not bring himself to be fully presidential, even on his inauguration day.

As disappointing as his words were, his actions matter more – and they could be worse. In his first acts, his new administration scrubbed references to the Affordable Care Act, gay rights and climate change from the White House website. If Trump issues divisive executive orders on immigration and other issues during his first days, that will reopen wounds starting to heal from the election.

Trump spoke for barely 15 minutes under dreary skies that matched the mood of many Americans.

After losing the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes, Trump takes office with the lowest approval ratings of any incoming president in 40 years. In the nation’s capital and across California and the country, hundreds of thousands of people are taking part in protests during inauguration weekend, including huge marches by women on Saturday. More than 60 congressional Democrats skipped the inauguration.

Before Trump took the oath of office, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York spoke on their behalf, praising America’s diversity, calling for addressing economic inequality and warning: “We face threats, both foreign and domestic.”

Barack Obama offered some unifying words on his way out of Washington, D.C. – at the exact same time as Trump met with congressional leaders and signed his first executive actions, formalizing his Cabinet nominations and proclaiming a national day of patriotism.

A Pew Research poll this week found that 86 percent say the nation is more politically divided than in the past and 71 percent believe we will be as divided or more so in five years. That pessimism will be difficult for Trump to turn around unless he does a better job reaching out to all Americans.

We are saddened that Trump, on his first day in office, didn’t temper his fist-pumping, egotistical nature. We can only hope he will soon learn that will make it much more difficult for him to govern.

He vowed to return power to the people, in particular the “forgotten men and women” and those in the crowd wearing the “Make America Great Again” caps. That would mean boosting an economy that works for working and poor people, as well as the wealthy; fixing a broken immigration system in a humane way; improving health care access; and much more.

Only by truly listening and speaking to all the people will he become a president for all Americans.

  Comments