- Special Projects
WASHINGTON — After a divisive and unconventional campaign run like no other in recent history, the most unlikely candidate, Donald J. Trump, was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Friday.
The billionaire czar of the proletariat took control of the White House and the vast apparatus of the American government in a solemn ceremony held on the West Lawn of the U. S. Capitol, attended by hundreds of thousands of spectators.
Only about 30 percent of the electorate in Hawaii cast their ballots for Trump. But a core group of Trump supporters, including many Republican Party loyalists in the state, traveled across the country to celebrate their shared success in delivering the office to him.
Hilo resident Lorraine Shin, an enthusiastic Trump supporter, came directly to Washington from a hospital visit in Arizona with her son, mixed martial arts fighter B. J. Penn, who was defeated last weekend in a nationally televised match there. Once she knew he was okay, she headed east to make it to the inauguration festivities.
Anticipating long lines and heavy security in the viewing area, she knew to get up early to get a good spot to see the ceremony, which began at about 11 a.m.
“We woke up at 5 — midnight Hawaii time — and stood there all that time,” she said later Friday still effusive over the experience. “But it was worth it.”
She was moved by Trump’s inaugural address stressing support for working people, reclaiming the nation’s prosperity and emphasis on God. She also liked the way he delivered the address.
“He’s never a fancy talker; he talks regular,” she said. “I believe he is the greatest president we will ever have.”
Honolulu attorney Jim Hochberg said he felt drawn to embark on the arduous trip — two days traveling and just three days on the ground — because the inauguration would mark a turning point after what he called “eight years of federal overreaching.”
He said it was worth the effort. “It was great,” he said. “I’ve never before been to an inauguration. I thought it was super.”
He said having good tickets, close to the dais where the ceremony was conducted, allowed him to see everything.
“We were amazingly blessed by Congresswoman (Tulsi) Gabbard who provided our tickets — seated tickets way up front,” he said. “It was just fabulous.”
Gray skies and intermittent rains didn’t dampen their spirits. Kimo Sutton, the Team Trump Hawaii chair from Honolulu, said he had been delighted to come to D.C. for what he called a “big celebration.”
“This city welcomes us and we are so excited to be here,” he told Civil Beat.
The inauguration seemed to draw a Midwestern blue-collar crowd. Trump supporters were noticeably less affluent than the supporters of other recent Republican candidates, and they were more conservative and stolid than Obama supporters.
The Bush inaugurations drew women draped in furs and jewels, with salon-blown shellacked hairstyles; the Obama victories drew boisterous youths who donned idiosyncratic garb as a form of artistic expression.
Trump supporters, on the other hand, wore baseball jackets and windbreakers, many with stocking caps emblazoned with the names of their favorite sports teams.
Instead of “Yes We Can” T-shirts, they were wearing Trump’s trademark red caps labeled “Make America Great Again.”
It was a crowd that was less exuberant, more measured, older and whiter than the enormous throngs drawn to the two inaugurations of former President Barack Obama.
But they were as palpably hopeful as the supporters of Obama and Bush had been at their inaugurations.
“People are excited about bringing change to our country because so many feel that the political establishment has ignored their needs and concerns,” said Miriam Hellreich, a Republican committeewoman from Oahu.
“These are not hysterical people but rather normal, ordinary Americans who are concerned about the future of their families and their country,” she said. “They are keiki and kupuna who want the best for their families.”
Others who were attending thought things would at least be better than they might have been otherwise.
“I’m still not sure what we’re going to get from President Trump but I know it will be a lot better than anything we would have gotten under Hillary Clinton,” Hochberg said.
Many in the crowd were hostile to Clinton. When she was announced to be present on the dais, many people loudly booed. “Lock her up,” some chanted, a line that was a common refrain at Trump rallies. A spoken address by Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York drew shouts of “Drain the Swamp.”
Despite these outbursts, it was mostly a peaceable event. That was welcome news for attendees because there had been some dark warnings of possible attacks on the inauguration by protestors.
But there were definitely signs of resistance to the new administration. Small groups of people in their 20s carried signs through the inauguration crowd charging Trump with being racist and fascist.
Other people showed their disdain by staying home. Only 4 percent of Washingtonians voted for Trump, and many city residents vacated the city for the weekend. The streets of Northwest D.C., where the lobbyists and upper-income bureaucrats live, were almost vacant.
In the city’s downtown area, north of the mall where the inauguration was being held, protests turned violent, with demonstrators burning flags, breaking store windows and throwing bricks, causing some injuries, according to The Washington Post, which reported that more than 200 people had been arrested after clashes with police. Security forces in the District herded protestors away from public ceremonies.
Thousands of women from around the country, meanwhile, were gathering in the capital for another event, a march and demonstration against Trump scheduled for Saturday. More people from Hawaii are expected to attend that event than the inauguration.