Donald J. Trump became the 45th president of the United States Friday, assuming the nation’s highest office despite a deeply divisive election in which nearly 3 million more Americans voted for his opponent, and vowing in his Inaugural Address to reverse what he described as a tide of “American carnage.”
“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land,” Trump said in a brief, 16-minute speech. “From this day forward, it's going to be only America first. America first.”
The 70-year-old businessman, who charted a defiant, polarizing path to the most stunning political upset in a generation, was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. shortly after noon, using both the Bible from President Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration and his personal childhood Bible. Trump’s wife Melania held both under his left hand as he took the oath outside the Capitol building.
Watching as Trump took the oath of office was the closely-knit circle that had propelled him to his unlikely victory, including his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, who will counsel Trump in the White House. Also in attendance was his predecessor, President Barack Obama; other former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and their spouses, including presidential rival and former First Lady Hillary Clinton.
In his inaugural speech, Trump painted a bleak picture of an America that, in starkly nationalist terms, he promised to revive. He described “mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones, an education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.”
“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” he said.
He vowed to make every decision “to benefit American workers and American families,” and championed a policy of protectionism to ward off “the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.”
Trump also promised to transfer wealth from the nation’s capital back to the rest of the country. “For too long, a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost,” he said. “That all changes starting right here and right now.”
Trump’s speech also nodded, however subtly, to his vision for uniting a country fractured in part by the election he had recently won. He suggested patriotism could overcome the racial and social divisions that many critics said he had enabled with his own rhetoric.
“At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.” Trump said. “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.”
But though Trump vowed to restore the country’s promise “for all our people,” his speech seemed to address first and foremost the restless supporters whose anger and disaffection he had tapped into during his presidential campaign.
“The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,” Trump said. “Everyone is listening to you now … You will never be ignored again.”
“Together we will make America strong again,” he concluded. “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.”