It’s finally done. On this day, January 20, 2017, Donald Trump has been sworn in as 45th President of the United States. With this, the United States demonstrates one of its most cherished traditions – the peaceful transfer of power from one person to another, and in this case, from a person of one ideology to someone of a very different ideology. Special praise should be mentioned to now former President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and all other Democratic leaders who were able to put their partisan differences aside for the sake of the country.
As I’ve mentioned before, Donald Trump was not the man I wanted to be President (even though I voted for him over Hillary Clinton). But, as anyone who follows politics knows: you don’t always get your way. He is now the President of our country, a man with many character flaws. He has a lot to prove, including the ability to lead a nation that is deeply divided, a land where more people voted for his opponent than for him.
From my observations, more than anything else, he must demonstrate the ability reach out to those who oppose him and to those who are afraid of him, to be able to extend olive branches to those who criticize him rather than give a kneejerk response on Twitter. Proverbs 29:11 states, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” It is a sign of strength in a great leader to be able to graciously respond to those who criticize them. This does not mean that you allow people to walk all over you, but your tone and choice of words in how you respond (as well as whether to respond at all) is crucial to effective communication.
As I was watching live on Facebook, even before he mentioned these words in his speech, the phrase came to my mind, “America First,” as a way to summarize what I was hearing. Supposedly, he wrote this speech himself. I suspect he had a speechwriter help him, but his inaugural address definitely had his ideals and fingerprints all over it. He spoke of returning power to the people, to bringing jobs back into this country from overseas, to having an America-first foreign policy, protecting our borders, building infrastructure, fighting against Islamic terrorism, and of unity in America to accomplish greater things. By and large I agree with these sentiments, even though I will probably disagree on how he wants to accomplish that.
One of his more memorable lines in his speech was, “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.” It is a beautiful sentiment, but from a historical perspective, this hasn’t always been true. If patriotism turns into nationalism, where country becomes more important than your neighbor or any other individual, where the majority can suppress and oppress the minority, then I’m afraid the prosperity that he hopes for will not come. But so long as patriotism does not turned into nationalism and remains patriotism, when we are united on a set of principles rather than giving blind faith to a leader or to the government, this has been when America has been at its finest. Those uniting principles need to be liberty, freedom, justice, but most importantly, faith in God.
I hope this is the America we will see in the next 4 years.