Self-made billionaire Donald J. Trump took the oath of office this morning, officially becoming the 45th president of the United States.
Trump met with his predecessor on a luxurious red carpet shortly before the ceremony, with his wife Melania offering a large Tiffany and Co. box to Michelle Obama. Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, Kevin McCarthy and other key lawmakers were waiting to greet Trump as he walked into the Capitol.
Some House Democrats were notably absent from the event, but many showed up “in spirit of the peaceful transition of power celebrated on Inauguration Day,” reports the New York Times. Hillary and Bill Clinton were also in attendance.
Despite chants of “lock her up,” Hillary Clinton graciously tweeted: “I’m here today to honor our democracy and its enduring values. I will never stop believing in our country and its future. #Inauguration.”
The first religious moment of the day came before the ceremony, when Trump and his family decided to visit St. John’s Episcopal Church. He also stacked the audience with six clergy members – beating out Richard Nixon for most clergy to attend a presidential inauguration.
Trump’s conservative views and campaign promises won him most of the evangelical Christian vote despite the billionaire’s questionable religiosity.
“The sheer size is unusual,” said Princeton history professor Kevin Kruse. “It’s an effort to not just elevate the tone of Mr. Trump’s inauguration, but to elevate him.”
The diverse group of clergy included a Hispanic Evangelical, a Catholic Cardinal, a female Christian pastor, a white Evangelical, a Rabbi, and an African-American Bishop from Detroit. A Protestant representative was notably absent.
Trump has made big promises about what he plans to do during his “first 100 days” in office, including a gradual overturning of many of Obama’s policies in what a senior official describes as “more rolling thunder than shock and awe.”
Trump’s concise but powerful inauguration speech promised to “get the job done.” He bashed Washington for reaping the rewards of government while the people struggle with diminished wealth and fewer jobs. He spoke of poverty, rising gang violence, and the nation’s inadequate education system that leaves “young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge.”
He spoke of a depleted military, of enriching foreign industry at the expense of our own industry, and of fighting other nations while failing to defend our own.
Trump reiterated his “buy American; hire American” slogan, promising to rebuild the country with “American hands and American labor.” He also promised to “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.”
“Today’s ceremony…has a very special meaning,” said Trump. “Because 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 American People.”
January 20th, 2017 is the “birth of a new millennium,” says Trump. “It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.”