On the eve of the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States, Mitchell Nazarov and Nicole Finkel scouted out the best spots to watch Donald Trump be sworn in.
Arriving at 5 a.m. the next morning, they soon settled into their spot, not too far from the Capitol building for a non-ticket holder. Then they wondered where everyone else was. Perhaps is was too early. They explained it like showing up to a party too early, anxious for the festivities to kickoff.
After all, the two Trump supporters had been waiting for the moment for a while. Nazarov, 23, a Baltimore native said that he’d been ready to come down since he announced his candidacy. Now that his favorite soon-to-be full-time politician was ready to start looking forward.
"I hope he'll be good, but I know he'll be better than what we had in the last eight years, especially with what Obama did just a couple weeks ago," he said, noting the recent UN Security Council resolution passed against Israeli settlement building. Nazarov showed his sweatshirt underneath his jacket, an IDF sweater – noting he had gone on Birthright a couple years ago.
For many Friday morning, the time would not come that the crowds would fully fill out – aerial photos showed a significant drop-off in attendance of the inauguration compared to that of former President Barack Obama’s 2013 swearing in. A subtle damper would further be placed on the day, when raindrops would start to drop at the start of Trump’s 20-minute long speech.
The speech, which would rest on populist notions and American exceptionalism, would be well received though by the crowd that was present. Those in attendance were ready for the presidency to begin, constantly noting the perceived lack of effectiveness from Obama’s eight years. As Trump concluded his speech, the crowd would chant with him his signature slogan, “Make America great again.”
"We were promised change eight years ago, and now with President Trump, I believe real change is going to come," John Crawford, 66, a native of Woodbridge, Va. said.
The former police officer was joined by one of his friends from the force. They expressed their desire for solidarity from the next administration with the police force.
"We're looking for an end on the war on cops," Rich Wells, 65, of Long Island, N.Y. said.
Many of those who spoke to The Jerusalem Post
on the National Mall spoke of some familiarity with Trump’s relationship to Israel, regardless of religion.
"Israel is our only ally in the Middle East and I believe we have to support them by all means possible," Wells added. "If he feels it's a better move to move our embassy to Jerusalem, I support that." Two big supporters for Israel present at the inauguration were Reverend Peggy Irvin, 62, from Denver, Colorado and Jackie Davey, 54, from Spokane, Washington.
They spoke about praying for Trump, his Vice President, Mike Pence, secretary of Housing and Urban Development-appointee Ben Carson and Benjamin Netanyahu.
"[Trump] would hear the voice of God and he would know the right things to do for Israel," Irvin said as the reason why they prayed for Trump.
Both of them said they were “crushed” when they heard the UN Security Council decision, but rang in a vocal “Amen!” in Trump’s current idea to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
One person could be found wrapped in a flag of Israel. Sophia Lazarus, 28, a Canadian-native and dual-citizen with Israel, felt it important to show up to the inauguration. She noted the effects his presidency has on both Canada and Israel.
Lazarus feels confident about Trump’s ability to protect and support Israel.
“I like the fact that his family is Jewish,” she said. “His grandkids are Jewish. He has a strong affinity to the Jewish people.”
Though Trump has advocated for a two-state solution, to be attempted to be brokered by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, she is not too concerned with that, as a vocal one state supporter.
“Just because [Kushner] is Jewish, I don’t think that means he has the power to do what no other person in Israel’s history can do,” Lazarus said.
Others waded less into policy, like 13-year-old, North Carolina-native Luke Culbertson. He bought a Trump flag when he arrived in D.C. and then wore it to the National Mall, looking like a cape on his back as he walked with his friends. “Trump’s a fun guy,” Culbertson said. "He tells what he wants to do. It's no confusing thing. A person like me in eighth grade can understand it." Some protestors were sprinkled in through the crowd. Many carried loud signs, but were fairly silent in voice. Both Trump supporters and protestors at the National Mall expressed extreme pleasure in how cordial most people were.
"Intelligent discourse is really important. The guys who walked by who called us bitches is not intelligent discourse. But if someone wants to ask me why he's a racist, that's a discourse," art professor at Ball State University Michelle Duran, 49, said.
Her colleagues felt similarly about the value to protest at the Mall.
"There's a lot of protests in the periphery,” Natallie Phillips, 38, said. “We wanted to be in the fray. We felt it was important for there to be an anti-Trump presence." Over the course of Saturday various protests and marches are expected to occur, highlighted by the Women’s March, which is expected to attract everyone from liberal college students to families to celebrities.
The Women’s March, an organized effort with a cohesive agenda, will come on the heels of a day of unrest in D.C. Following the Inauguration, some of the protesting turned violent – highlighted by tea-rgasing by the police and arson to cars and garbage cans by specific protestors.
If optimists looked toward this weekend in Washington as an opportunity for peaceful and constructive dialogue, their wishes may prove to be whimsical. Finkel – the friend of Nazarov’s, an 18-year-old, Jewish, Baltimore native going to college in the District, was not a fan of the protests to ensue.
"I feel like they're protesting something that can't change," she said.
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