It is now official. Despite losing the popular vote by 2.9 million votes, and with the critical assistance of Russian hacking and FBI director James Comey’s using his office to influence a federal election, real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald J. Trump is now president of the United States. He and Vice President Mike Pence were sworn into office minutes ago.
For the first time in our life, a duly-elected U.S. president’s ascension is being met with fear rather than hope.
African-Americans are afraid that Trump and his racist attorney general Jeff Sessions plan to roll back decades of civil rights advances.
Members of the LGBT community are terrified that their recent baby-steps towards being treated equally under the law are going to be walked back under a Trump administration.
Women are scared their reproductive rights and access to basic healthcare are going to be taken away from them.
Members of the press are concerned that Trump neither understands nor gives a rat’s ass about freedom of the press.
Many who gained health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act are afraid their coverage is going to be taken away from then, with nothing replacing it.
Many who follow foreign affairs (a group that does not include Donald Trump) are afraid that having a know-nothing, Putin-loving, thin-skinned man-baby as commander-in-chief with control of the nuclear codes may spell the end of relative world peace, if not the end of the world as we know it.
We are not used to having new presidents greeted with such genuine, and well-founded, terror.
When Gerald Ford took office after the national trauma of the Watergate scandal, his inauguration was met with hope — often skeptical hope — that the country could put a presidential scandal behind it.
When Jimmy Carter took office, his inauguration was met with both relief and hope — relief that 8 years of questionable GOP rule was over and hope that a relative political newcomer could lift the country out of the malaise of the late 1970s.
When Ronald Reagan took office, his swearing-in was celebrated as a symbol, again, of hope, this time, hope that the economic stagflation that crippled America in the Carter years could be ended with Reagan’s conservative proposals.
When George H.W. Bush took office, his inauguration garnered little emotion, since most people thought it was just a continuation of the Reagan years.
When Bill Clinton took office, the country was completely tired of Republican policies and welcomed the change from the past 12 years with excitement and hope.
When George W. Bush took office after the myriad scandals of the Clinton years, his advent was greeted with the hope that basic morality would return to the White House.
Needless to say, Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2008 was met with hope that access to health care would finally become a reality for poor Americans unable to to afford insurance coverage under the system that existed then, not to mention euphoria that our country had come so far from its racist past as to put a mixed-race black man in the Oval Office.
Today, the nation is wracked in conflict. A small group of voters, mostly working-class and uneducated whites, hope that Trump will indeed make America great.
But for blacks, gays and lesbians, women, the press, the formerly uninsured, and anybody who thinks nuclear war is a bad idea, Trump’s inauguration today brings anxiety.
Our colleague Veronica Kennedy has written that Trump will be her president, by which we understand her to mean that she is a citizen of this country, and under our constitution, laws, and traditions Trump is everyone’s president, including those who voted against him. By that definition, he is indeed our president, as of today.
But if Trump continues to oppose equal rights, reproductive choice, freedom of speech and the press, affordable healthcare for all, and world peace, make no mistake: We will oppose him at every turn.
We do not want Trump to fail at everything the way the Republicans wanted Obama to fail at everything. But we hope he is an utter and abysmal failure at turning back the tide of progress and peace.
Trump is our president, but that doesn’t mean we have to go along with bad policies. Just the opposite, as citizens it is our duty to oppose policies that cause our citizens to be afraid.
The Trump era begins in fear today. And that is not normal.