Scenes from the swamp: photos of the night before Trump’s inauguration
Public school teachers, welders, roofers, Boy Scouts, entrepreneurs, and zealous conservatives streamed into Washington, D.C., from around the country this week in hopes of catching a glimpse of the swearing-in of the 45th president of the United States.
Trump’s America, or “real America,” as many of them called it, came to the much-derided “swamp” wearing bright-red “Make America Great Again” hats to celebrate “real change” for ordinary people.
Barack Obama’s “change” was out and Trump’s was in, they said.
Trump echoed those same words Thursday evening in brief remarks at his Make America Great Again concert at the Lincoln Memorial. “We all got tired of seeing what was happening,” he said. “And we wanted change, but we wanted real change.”
In two-dozen interviews with Trump supporters visiting the nation’s capital for the inauguration, a consistent vision of that change began to take shape. More than any other issue, these die-hard supporters expressed their hope that Trump would follow through on his promise to impose term limits on members of Congress. “A lot of politicians come here meager and leave millionaires,” said Jamey O’Donnell, a 59-year-old roofer from the Denver area.
That money and power has created a government with an attitude of “you take what we give you,” said Darryl Mitchell, a state tax auditor from North Carolina.
In Trump’s America, such elite technocracy does not sit well. “The concept that there are only 535 people smart enough to run the federal government is abhorrent,” said Danny Shields, a 63-year-old public elementary school teacher from Bloomington, Indiana.
The next-most-cited issue by Trump’s inauguration attendees was the promised wall on the Southern border. “It will help the Mexicans, too, since people are bringing the drugs to Mexico to sell in the United States,” said 9-year-old Cub Scout David Muzzy. “And drugs are really bad for you. Like real drugs, not medicine. You know what I mean.”
Mani Casarez, a Houston accountant raised in Mexico, agreed wholeheartedly with the young Muzzy. “Mexico will also be safe with a wall,” she said. “They just need their own Trump,” she added. Casarez said media propaganda has manufactured Trump’s contentious relationship with Latinos.
Media bias or not, the matter of race did hang in the air Thursday. The inauguration crowd was largely white, and Trump had just finished nominating one of the most overwhelmingly white Cabinets in recent American history. If all of Trump’s nominees are confirmed, his Cabinet will be the first in decades without a Latino occupying a position.
Incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer explained to the press early Thursday that Trump was focusing solely on “hiring the best and brightest” and not on race. But Latinos that gathered at the Latino Inaugural Gala on Thursday night felt insulted that not one Latino was chosen for a Cabinet post. “They missed a golden opportunity,” League of United Latin American Citizens president Roger Rocha said.
A group of black supporters also attempted to defy the Trump-voters-so-white stereotype and encountered turbulence. As they walked around wearing “Blacks for Trump 2020” T-shirts, two white men sniffed, “How about all citizens for Trump 2020?”
Cover: Photos by Tess Owen