College of Charleston Communications Professor Michael Lee says inaugural addresses throughout history have one similar goal.
He says, “The winner wants to make an effort, in this inauguration as well as any, to unite the people, to speak to the people that didn’t vote for him or her and say that they are the president of all the people.”
But this inauguration ceremony has one important difference.
Lee says, “Trump is different and it is obvious to say, but Trump is different for a couple reasons.”
One is Trump’s style throughout the campaign…
Lee says, “The inaugurals tend to be a time where they leave the campaign rhetoric of self aggrandizing and personal oratory and story telling aside and speak in a more contemplative fashion. So a few of those things are not in keeping with what we know about Donald Trump… The self aggrandizing part, the leaving out personal oratory.”
…also his background as a private citizen.
Lee says, “We don’t know his relationship with America’s past ideals and especially past inaugural addresses that would’ve been a little tighter for past presidents.”
The inaugurations in history usually give a nod to the past with sights set on the future. Lee says he is interested to know how Donald Trump will handle this in such a divided political climate.
He says, “The bigger, larger themes about who we are as a people, who does he see Americans as? Does he want to be President of the people or does he want to be President in divided times and continue those divisions?”
One famous inauguration speech is from President John F. Kennedy when he said the famous words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Professor Lee says it’s putting big ideas into poetic language that makes these inaugural addresses last throughout history.