By Megan Collins | Contributing Writer
“George Washington knew that the inauguration of the second president was more important than the inauguration of the first,” remarked Senator Toy Blunt of Missouri, Chairman of the Inauguration Committee.
As President Trump said in his speech, Jan. 20 was not just the transition of power from one administration to another, but from one party to another. The inauguration of the second president was so important because people were concerned about the nature of the transition from their first experiment with an elected President—would it be peaceful? Would the defeated candidate object to the results? For many, Trump’s inauguration evoked the same concerns.
Protesters lined the gated entrances to the ticketed viewing areas of the ceremony, frustrating many of the viewers as they attempted to shove through. They called on the “snowflakes” to suck it up and go home because “these are Trump’s streets now.”
Once inside the gates, we were insulated from protests and instead were surrounded by a sea of “Make America Great Again” hats, red rain ponchos, and American flag embroidered clothes. I felt like I was transported to a Trump campaign rally, a bit of a culture shock to say the least.
I socialized with a woman next to me, who traveled by herself from Alameda by Amtrak. Her children voted for Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein, but she voted for Trump because he promised that the people left behind would no longer be forgotten—and because Hillary was a “lying criminal.” I refrained from countering any of her claims because whatever I said would not change the reality of the situation: Donald Trump was about to become (and now is) our President. Nearly everyone there was celebrating it, while I was still coming to terms with it.
I know that there are many people like me who are also struggling to envision their roles in a society filled with tension and discontent. We reached this schism due to shortcomings by both Republicans and Democrats. At the Women’s March on Jan. 21, CNN political commentator Van Jones called on people of all political affiliations to “be better” by being more inclusive and respectful.
After reflecting on my experiences at both the inauguration and the Women’s March, I am more determined than ever to work toward compromise and mutual respect. President Trump in his inaugural address acknowledged, “We will face challenges. We will confront hardships, but we will get the job done.” We may not be thinking about the same challenges or hardships or job getting done, but his message resonates with any American worried about the future. With perseverance and courage, any job can get done. Now it is up to us to get to work.
Megan took Jan Term 175 The Makings of a President: Campaigns, Elections, and the Makings of a President. She wrote in to The Collegian from Washington D.C.