The elevation of reality television star Donald Trump to the position of President of the United States on Friday was heralded by a vague yet ominous speech from the new president.
Trump found himself delivering his Steve Bannon-scripted speech to a sparsely populated — and predominantly white — crowd of Americans.
“Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential,” Trump said. “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
While accurately identifying many problems Americans face, he failed to accurately identify the causes of those issues — an economic system that encourages exploitation of workers and enables the already wealthy, the increased privatization and segregation of public schools with decreased government oversight and federal standards, a drug war and prison system that disproportionately impacts minorities or poor communities, respectively — instead, adhering to the authoritarian playbook by scapegoating other countries, immigrants and anyone opposed to his favored policy of vulture capitalism.
Trump’s policies and temperament have alienated him from large swarths of the population. The thin-skinned and ratings obsessed tv personality enters office with the lowest favorability rating of a transitioning candidate dating back to the 1970’s, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll.
Just how low that favorability is expressed itself in low attendance numbers for the incoming administration. There are no official estimates of the crowd size, but side-by-side photos of Trump’s and Obama’s make it clear that the American public is less enthused by a Trump presidency than that of Obama.
The number in attendance has been estimated to be about 250,000. The estimated number for Obama in 2009 is 1,800,000. After taking over the @POTUS Twitter handle, the Trump administration drew criticism for using a header photo from the much more populated 2009 inauguration of Barrack Obama.
The Trump team also faced well-documented troubles in trying to find performers to perform at the event. His parade, which can run upwards of four hours for a president, was instead only 90 minutes. Many lawmakers unorthodoxly boycotted the inauguration as well. Trump’s team was, however, able to use the event to solicit huge donations from corporate interests who paid millions of dollars for access to the new president.
Tweets from those on hand documented the emptiness of the stands in D.C.
The bleachers right next to Pres. Trump's White House viewing stand for the Inauguration Parade are virtually empty. pic.twitter.com/kNNkfRu3Wo
— Micah Grimes (@MicahGrimes) January 20, 2017
Rather than attend the inauguration, millions of Americans saved their enthusiasm and and energy for the numerous anti-Trump rallies the following day.
Protests both large and small popped up in cities around the nation. The most popular of the protests is the Women’s March in Washington D.C. Protesters arriving from all over the country were encouraged to park in the area suburbs and take the Metro into the city to avoid congesting traffic.
The Metro reported 275,000 train rides as of 11 a.m. Saturday — 82,000 more than the reported number at the same time on Friday, and eight times normal Saturday volume. ThinkProgress reports 500,000 Women’s March attendee’s in D.C.
Some metro stations were so crowded that people were advised to make the hour-long walk to reach the city, as it would be faster than getting a seat on the train.
— David Mack (@davidmackau) January 21, 2017