United States President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration day approval rating was an abysmal 37 per cent, according to a poll by FOX News, with 54 per cent of Americans disapproving of the 45th President. Historically, incoming presidents face their highest ever approval ratings on their first day in office, such as President Barack Obama’s inaugural approval rating of 80 per cent.
Trump’s low approval ratings are echoed by the relatively small crowd gathered to witness his inaugural moment, which was unable to fill the national mall.
The size of the inauguration day crowd has become a point of contention between journalists and the new President and his staff. Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary, incorrectly claimed in his first press conference last week that “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”
“These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong,” continued Spicer, suggesting reporters framed their photographs to intentionally misrepresent the size of the crowd.
Trump himself has since claimed that between one and 1.5 million people were in attendance.
Expert crowd scientist Marcel Altenberg told BBC the number of people in attendance “was a third of what we saw in 2009” at the exact same place as where former President Barack Obama was inaugurated.
“We compared thousands of images from different sources. We followed seven live feeds just to get an idea of the spreading of the crowd and then we compared them, to look at the density.”
The Washington’s Metro system’s Twitter account corroborates the claims made by Altenberg. By 11:00 a.m. on the day of Trump’s inauguration only 193 000 trips had been taken, significantly lower than the 513 000 trips taken for Obama’s 2009 inauguration and the 317 000 taken for his 2013 inauguration.
“We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people,” opened Trump, in his first official address as President of the United States.
The 45th President comes into power facing drastically different conditions than his predecessor. Barack Obama assumed the presidency at the height of a recession, with the country losing an estimated 750 000 jobs per month. Today, the United States economy is recovering and experiencing growth, albeit slowly.
“Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth, Politicians prospered, but the jobs left,” said Trump, waiting for the crowd to begin cheering before continuing on.
“And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.”
Trump echoed this familiar sentiment throughout his inaugural address, perhaps best captured by his popular campaign saying “drain the swamp”, a rallying cry against what he DESCRIBES as the hijacking of THE American government by self-serving elites.
Meanwhile, Trump has constructed his cabinet, those who will aid him in running various portions of the federal government, with extremely wealthy elites, some of whom have networths surpassing the billion-dollar mark.
Those in the Trump cabinet include Rex Tillerson, oil tycoon and CEO of ExxonMobil, Betsy DeVos, a businesswoman who inherited a billion-dollar fortune, and Steve Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive.
Trump spoke about the dangers facing the country today, from poverty to crime and runaway jobs, and vowed that those forgotten by the current system will remain forgotten no longer.
Eventually his speech turned to issues of foreign policy: “For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.”
Trump returned his overarching narrative of an America in decline, this time attacking the state of the country’s military forces. While Trump is correct in that the military has depleted since the pinnacle of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US still spends more on its military than the next seven countries combined, including China, Russia, and the United Kingdom. By all means, the US still has the most capable military force in the world.
The well-being of the middle class was also central to Trump’s speech, particularly their decline in wealth, which the president says has been “ripped” from them, and “redistributed all across the world.” The middle class in the US has been on the decline, with a majority of Americans now falling into either the lower class or upper class.
Throughout the speech, Trump often returned to his various campaign slogans, with phrases such as “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first,” and, “America will start winning again, winning like never before.”
“Together, we will make America strong again,” said Trump in his closing remarks. “We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And yes, together, we will make America great again.”