By Sosamma Samuel-Burnett, J.D.
Founder/President, G.L.O.B.A.L. Justice
Inauguration Day — every four years we have this momentous occasion that ushers in not only a new president but a new era. For almost every inaugural, we have had a segment of Americans who is pleased with whoever is sworn in and another segment that is displeased. In these respects, the inauguration of Donald Trump is no different.
But what makes this year’s inaugural distinctive is Donald Trump himself. He is the first person to be elected who has neither government nor military experience. He is independently wealthy, is not taking a salary, and is not beholden to special interests (at least at this point). He won an election that was arguably the most difficult, both in terms of the process and tone. And he is taking the highest office in the land despite many troubling remarks and attitudes that he presented himself and/or brought out in others.
Most presidents have had character flaws — they have all been human. But Donald Trump’s character flaws, though repugnant to common decency, were highlighted through social and mainstream media in a way that both brought the ire of his detractors but further galvanized his supporters. That in itself has been the hallmark of Donald Trump both during his business career and during his candidacy – whatever seemed to be unacceptable was still received by the public through his particular approach and brand.
But watching Donald Trump today prior to taking the oath of office, I noticed him take a few deep breaths and take in what the previous speakers were saying – especially as they referenced America’s past presidential greats — leaders who have become symbols of America itself. I am sure Donald Trump felt the weight of the moment and felt the need to seize the moment to its fullest. With his family alongside him, he delivered his message – the same message he delivered during the campaign, but a message that has deepened and strengthened (for better or worse) with the revelation and assumption of the role he now plays. The awesome and overwhelming role of president may temper his remarks in the future, but as he first steps into this role, he presented himself as confident and committed to the ideas and the people who elected him.
Just as when other presidents having taken office, I am saying several prayers for the newly elected President, his presidency, and America for the next four years. I pray that Donald Trump’s character flaws will not overshadow the significance of this presidency in light of significant national and global concerns. Although his presidency may also be difficult, I pray that this presidency still be honorable and consistent. And I pray that America be strengthened and move forward and not falter, fall, or fail.
Admittedly, I have had a heavy heart and mind throughout the election year about Donald Trump as candidate and even as president-elect. But now that he has been sworn in as President of the United States, I am making a conscious decision to be hopeful and give him a chance, but also to be vigilant. Vigilance requires both respect of the presidency and respect of the people – but it also requires strength and courage to hold the president and the people accountable. It means following national and global news and policies — listening and watching for their impact and implications. And vigilance also requires discernment to know when to give time and space for events and issues to unfold, and when to step forward in dissent.
But on this Inauguration Day, I share these thoughts to the various segments of America as the political process in this democratic republic unfolds:
For those who are liberal/progressive and have had not just anxiety but fear about this candidate and now president, I state that outside of Trump’s trappings, his policies and decisions are a variation of conservative policies. Conservatism is neither new nor inherently problematic to American politics nor government.
For those who are Conservatives but uncomfortable with Trump, he has some smart Conservatives around him. The role of president is too massive for just one person. The policies and practices of this administration will be influenced as much by these individuals as Trump himself.
For those who support Donald Trump — either during the election or now as president– today is an important day to celebrate. But presidential politics is not the same as gladiator battles — to the victor does not go the spoils. Rather the victor now has the responsibility of bringing together both supporters and non-supporters to represent all in this country.
America is watching, listening, and hoping…