By: Natallie Rocha
On January 20, just as President Donald Trump began his inaugural address, a light rain fell on the crowd. For a majority of the people in attendance, the rain signaled a refreshing change of power to a man who promises to wash away the old ways of Washington D.C. In contrast, there were some people who embraced the gloomy weather as a reflection of their attitude towards the new presidency. Though I cannot say that I felt overtaken by either emotion, the National Mall echoed the celebration of people who had been delivered after a long drought.
The seven hours I spent submerged in a red sea of trucker hats, waiting for the swearing-in ceremonies, proved to be more educational than any museum I visited in Washington D.C. As a young, first-time voter I signed up for the History and Political Science department’s trip to the Presidential Inauguration with the intention of experiencing history first-hand. Admittedly, I was expecting a very different kind of historical event when I signed up in October. Nevertheless, I approached this experience with an open-mind and curiosity toward our 45th president and the people who fervently supported his campaign.
It was a humbling experience that began with a 5am sprint to get the best view of the stage and continued with a long standing wait to the main event. Having snagged a front row spot, I got to know passionate Trump supporters from all walks of life. Talking to these people offered me a valuable lens for viewing the inauguration. It allowed me to see the people underneath the red hats and listen to how Trump made them feel.
I waited alongside a young dad who brought his four young kids with him to watch history unfold. After hearing about his family and political beliefs, his story reverberated the frustration and concerns of many middle-class Americans. As a parent and small business owner he expressed his optimism in Trump’s plan for the economy. When it came time for President Trump’s speech, he joined the crowd in chanting “Drain the swamp!” with his little kids following suit. Though Trump’s speech received criticism for its harsh message, it evoked a burst of exultation and slew of chants from the attendees.
But before Donald Trump arrived to give his speech, he was preceded by past presidents, beginning with Jimmy Carter and ending with Barack Obama. Although I expected to experience opposition towards the Democratic politicians, I was still shocked by the overwhelming chorus of “boos!” However, the woman next to me, who ran Trump’s New Jersey campaign office, condemned her friends for “booing” Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton. She reaffirmed her dislike of the Clintons, but acknowledged that it took a lot for Secretary Clinton to be there.
After the Obamas took their seats, the jeering ceased and the cheering for Trump was reignited. The same New Jersey woman who led the “boos!” next to me, noticed that I was a first-time voter. She seized the opportunity to educate me on our political system, assuming I was oblivious to the past election. She proceeded to explain how Donald Trump does not hate women and how she does not understand the point of the Women’s March taking place the next day. With there being only a few minutes left in Trump’s speech, I agreed to disagree with her and went my separate way.
As fascinating as it was to listen to President Trump in person, I found more insight in the droves of people who bolstered his campaign. Although it may seem like there are winners and losers in this election, we must remember that we are all on the same team.
For more photos and videos from President Trump’s Inauguration and additional coverage of the Washington D.C. Women’s March click here.