In retrospect, none of it should have been totally unexpected. Yet the events surrounding the inauguration of Donald J. Trump sent seismic waves around the planet. On January 20th, 2017, the 45th President of the United States took his oath of office. A highly enthusiastic crowd of Trump supporters came out to cheer the triumphant event. Yet just blocks away, an anti-Trump mob came out to throw stones at police and set fire to a limousine. His inaugural speech was wildly populist although iterating most of the rhetoric he developed on the campaign trail. Yet the press reported it as a right-wing nationalist call to arms that would set American diplomacy back a half century.
What it does predict is a likely war of attrition that may possibly continue over the next four years of the Trump presidency. The liberal press, firmly entrenched after eight years of predominance over the Obama administration, has viewed the Trump ascension as the advent of an Orwellian reactionary super-state. Trump blasted back using the same analogy, citing the double-speak of Orwell’s 1984 as the leftist recipe for serving ‘alternative news’ to the American public and the nations of the world. Whatever the case may be, both sides are portending a future series of events that will serve no good purpose as time goes by.
The size of the crowds attending the inauguration became the first item of interest over the weekend. The media derided the turnout as one of the lowest in recent decades. Trump called the declaration a bald-faced lie meant to debase the Trump Nation. He insisted it was as well-attended and enthusiastic as that of any previous Democratic inaugural events. The press countered with aerial photos, showing enormous crowds at the first Obama inauguration. Trump fired back with clips of plastic-covered areas that covered the White House lawn, resulting in the crowd being divided into sectors that appeared to be sparsely occupied.
The media proved even more divisive in televising the nationwide demonstrations following the inauguration. Relatively few networks (such as Fox News and One America Network News) followed the Trump celebration at the inaugural ball. The majority chose to provide non-stop coverage of the anti-Trump events, from the riotous protests in Washington DC to the so-called ‘female protests’ in large cities across the country and around the world. It was publicized as a women’s backlash against a misogynistic Trump regime. Yet it can be seen how the events were misrepresented in order to enhance the turnout.
Women around the globe had been fed a steady stream of propaganda by the Clinton campaign depicting Trump as a male chauvinist. Making matters worse was Trump’s strong position on Christian issues, one of the foremost being anti-abortion. It made him an opponent of pro-choice groups; even worse, it placed him against health legislation that linked benefits to abortion options. Activist groups were quick to promote the idea that Trump would repeal women’s health benefits along with Obamacare upon assuming office. The world-wide response appeared as if the women of the world had united in opposition to the new President.
One of the more problematic selling points facing the media was the composition of the Trump administration. Trump’s wife Melania had already announced herself as being a champion of family issues. Ivanka Trump was already consolidating her position as one of the most influential ‘first daughters’ in history. There was also campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, education secretary Betsy DeVos and UN ambassador Nikki Haley, among many others. Unlike many women in the Obama and Bush administrations, these persons do not seem to be hired according to gender. Most come from backgrounds that indicate they will come out swinging from the opening bell. If Trump was assembling a male-dominated staff, he seemed to be uncharacteristically near-sighted in doing so.
At that juncture, White House press secretary Sean Spicer excoriated the media over their purveyance of ‘alternative facts’ and biased opinion during the inaugural weekend. Trump followed up by asking Cabinet and Congress members to refrain from disseminating information that might prove detrimental to the administration’s agenda. It was the equivalent of setting skirmish lines along the political battlefield. The media rose up in arms, and Orwell’s futuristic novel found a resurgence that took it to Number One on Amazon’s bestseller list. 1984 had flash-forwarded to 2017, and the fate of the world was at stake once more.
Once again Trump took the offensive, pointing to the press’ claim that Hillary Clinton had won the popular vote and should have been President were it not for the electoral college. He went on to announce that he would conduct a formal investigation of Democratic strategies in utilizing illegal immigrant votes to decide city and state election results. This reopened a can of worms surrounding allegations that the Putin regime in Russia masterminded the Internet hacks of the Democratic National Convention. The Clinton campaign contended that Russia had leaked information convincing voters that their integrity was highly questionable at best. It led to a new round of mud-slinging that has a long way to go.
One thing that stands out is the Democrats’ indignation over the alleged Russian interference in the electoral process. The most profound revelations were the DNC’s betrayal of Bernie Sanders in favor of Clinton, as well as the financial indiscretions of the Clinton Foundation. Although the exposes were, in all likelihood, disastrous to the campaign, the vital question remains. In an America where freedom of information has been declared an inalienable right, would it have been moral for voters to have been denied access to those details?
Another angle that many conservatives had forgotten was the intense backlash in many areas of the country over the Obama regime of the past eight years. Although the liberal press was strongly supportive of the Obama administration, the Republicans’ adversity was so strong that Obama was forced to rely on executive orders to make progress on key issues. There was also the fact that Obama received more death threats than any other President in history. The media conveniently downplayed much of this, making it seem as if America had entered a blissful era of inclusivity and diversity on both sides of the aisle and across Main Street USA. The Republican right was now uncovering what the media had swept under the rug.
The question of validity surrounding the electoral college brings the Democrats’ sense of values into light. The reason for the electoral college was to prevent major cities with overwhelming populations to dominate American politics. It allowed states with comparatively small populations to enjoy their fair share of influence over the outcome. Further, it is a sociological fact that citizens of lower income flock to large cities due to the abundance of public assistance programs. They become a magnet for demographic groups who will vote for liberal groups supporting welfare platforms. If the electoral college were abolished, conservative parties might never win another election.
There is also a concern over the nature of Donald J. Trump as a self-made billionaire. He is a general in the world of commerce with few peers, a man who has developed successful campaigns and conquered markets on an international scale. He is an understandably proud man who has earned the respect of millions around the globe. Being vilified, slandered and libeled is something he is not used to and is not taking lightly. It is something he will have to get used to if the White House war against the media will ever come to a truce.
For certain, the American public and the nations of the world will have to learn and discern in separating fact from fiction. If not, tidal waves of ‘alternative facts’ may evolve into the tsunami disaster of the decade.