Editor’s Note: For Donald Trump’s inaugural address, members of the Idaho Statesman Editorial Board who could watch it were asked to write a reaction to it. Opinion Page Editor Robert Ehlert’s column ran Saturday. Below are the thoughts submitted by two of the board’s community members: Martin Peterson and Mike Wetherell.
By Martin Peterson
Above all, this was a reflection that the republic is alive and well. Unlike Gabon and a few other nations, we have had an orderly transition of government. This in spite of the fact that the losing candidate received more votes than the winning candidate. I think this is the ultimate test of our form of government.
While Donald Trump waffles around on his various policy proposals, his overall message has been consistent throughout the campaign and now with his inaugural address. Washington is broken and he’s here to fix it. A gutsy message, considering that most of those who led the way in breaking it — if in fact it is broken — were standing behind him, including congressional leadership of both parties and past presidents of both parties.
Most inaugural addresses are filled with patriotism. This is the first I’ve heard that was filled with nationalism. “America First” was the theme that was used to try to keep the U.S. out of World War II. I suspect that Sen. William Borah, who led the charge to keep the U.S. out of the League of Nations, would be delighted in all of this.
I, for one, have always felt that the U.S. is the greatest nation on earth. The president believes that the U.S. is not a great nation, but I have never heard him indicate what nation is greater than the U.S.
A number of Democratic members of Congress boycotted the inauguration. I think that’s their prerogative, but I wonder what the Democratic reaction would have been if 50 to 60 GOP members of Congress had announced a boycott of President Barack Obama’s inaugural. I suspect there would have been talk of racism.
I think that a better way would have been to simply not attend without making a public announcement. Much the way that Frank Church ignored Richard Nixon’s first inaugural and gave me his Senate credentials — which resulted in the situation where I was on the Capitol steps during the swearing in, and in a reserved seating stand next to the Nixons at the inaugural parade.
Democrats need to buck up and get to work. They seem to forget that 1968 was nearly as bad a year for Democrats as 2016. Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were both assassinated. There was no end in sight in Vietnam. Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew were elected. Granted, the Democrats continued to control both the House and Senate. But the nation and the Democrats survived.
Trump says he wants to turn the country over to the people. The Democratic Party once was, and maybe still is, the party of the people. So use Trump’s words to your advantage.
Like I have been saying, Idaho is what Trump wants America to be.
By Mike Wetherell
The new president seems to have done two things well.
In attacking Congress, he probably alienated quite a few of the people he needs to get some of his programs passed. But he has also pleased his base by doing so.
His problem is that to govern he needs the Congress, his base and a whole bunch of people he alienated in the election campaign.
If he is to be the effective deal maker he says he wants to be, he will have to be able to bring together a coalition that includes some members of all of these of these groups — that means an ability to make the compromises necessary to make those deals he claims to be able to make to improve the lot of all Americans.