Matthew Hanrahan looks at the effects of a day that, just a little over a year ago, most would never had predicted.
WHILE there is disagreement as to whether Trump’s inauguration was a moment which should be anticipated or dreaded; there is little disagreement of the just how surreal it was to watch Donald Trump, a former reality television show star with no political experience, become the 45th of the United States. Although the Republicans now control the House, Senate, and Presidency, and have nearly completed Senate hearings for Trump’s cabinet, there is a sizeable proportion of America and the world that continue to reject Trump and what he stands for.
The focal point of the inauguration was Trump’s address. The inaugural address is typically a fairly empty speech that is heavy on unifying rhetoric and light on almost anything of substance. Trump’s, however, was incredibly divisive.
On the one hand, Trump spoke about a desire to rebuild American infrastructure and create jobs, but that was not what stood out for many who heard it. According to Executive Committee Member of Democrats Abroad Ireland, Andrew Grossen, he felt that Trump’s inaugural speech was troubling.
“Using language of fear and anger against “American carnage’ is far from the “Yes we can” of Obama”
“Using language of fear and anger against ‘American carnage’ is far from the ‘Yes we can’ of Obama or even the “morning in America” of Reagan.” UCD Economics and Politics student and registered Democrat, Róisín O’Gara said “traditionally the inaugural address has been a chance for the incoming president to offer an olive branch to their former opponents […] no such sentiments were detected in President Trump’s words. It was very much derivative of his campaign speeches, heavily reliant on nationalist rhetoric.”
Many are fearful that Trump’s election poses a threat to them, according to UCD Archaeology graduate student, Mary Cain. Trump’s election has changed how people act in her home city of Philadelphia. “People who supported Trump now think it’s okay to openly discriminate against others because of their race, religion, gender or ethnicity because of how Trump essentially normalised it.”
Grossen also mentioned of hearing of people who have “encountered ugly bigotry and racism in wake of the election. His election has been used as justification for many acts of hate and those who commit such acts feel they are validated. All this just speaks to how divided and polarized my nation is at the moment.”
The largest protest event in response to Trump’s inauguration was the Women’s March on Washington. According to the organisers of the March, it intends to “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.”
Cain believes that people were motivated to protest by being “mortified and disgusted by Trump’s rhetoric and character. His behaviour throughout his campaign is nothing short of shameful and deplorable and to be named the most powerful person in the United States, it poses a threat [to] people who have been ostracised by him and his base supporters.”
The march far surpassed organisers’ expectations with hundreds and thousands of people flocking to Washington – in numbers far greater than those at the inauguration.
“His behaviour throughout his campaign is nothing short of shameful”
In addition to the protests across America, the inauguration triggered a response throughout countries around the world. Solidarity marches with the Women’s March on Washington were held everywhere from London to Bangalore.
In Ireland, a march took place in Dublin with hundreds of people in attendance. What sparked this particular Irish consternation with Trump’s presidency? According to UCD Feminist Book Club member, Niamh Ni Chormac, she believes that “the constant streaming of American politics by mainstream media means that Trump is always seen by us and so his message is carried with that.”
“Trump continues to bring controversy almost daily”
For O’Gara, the fact it is a protest driven by women stems from an increasing willingness to stand up for women’s rights in Ireland. “It’s evident from the sheer numbers who attended the Repeal the 8th march last year that we are establishing ourselves as a political force to be reckoned with. The fears that American women have, particularly in relation to cuts to Planned Parenthood, are identical to the reality that Irish women are living in.
Therefore it is easy to understand why there is such a noticeable degree of empathy.” This sentiment, particularly the idea that the Repeal the 8th movement is a catalyst for political mobilization, is an idea shared by Ni Chormac and Grossen.
An eventful first 24 hours for the Trump administration was capped with the signing of an executive order, which seeks to undermine the Obama’s landmark piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act. Despite the evident acrimony of many towards the Trump agenda, it has not prevented him pushing ahead with his plans. Grossen argues that the approach to opposing Trump throughout his presidency “should be both focused and forceful. Trump continues to bring controversy almost daily to the political dialogue making it a challenge to have a focused critique and opposition to him.”