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In what has traditionally been a dignified and respectful handover, in the presence of outgoing and former presidents and political rivals alike, and with the eyes of the world watching, President Trump lambasted the political establishment for creating an ``American carnage''. He promised his ``America first'' catchcry would extend to international relations, trade and jobs, with a policy to ``buy American and hire American''. A significant portion of his speech was dedicated to religion, loyalty, patriotism, unity and solidarity as a way to ``heal our divisions''.
It was at once rousing and chilling. Many supporters in attendance appreciated and applauded the sentiments. Many critics, however, have not forgotten this is the man who sowed the very seeds of division he is now promising to mend. He made repeated crude and belittling comments about women, mocked the disabled, disparaged foreigners and those of others faiths, and even targeted military servicepeople and his country's intelligence services. In the hours and days since the inauguration, he and his cohorts have upped the ante on one of his favourite targets - the press.
Some believe the media have been unfair at times to the new president. Certainly his lack of political knowledge, numerous contradictions and simplistic speeches, phrases and putdowns made him an easy target for an effective soundbite during the campaign. If he hoped for in-depth or positive analysis, that was hardly possible given his policies were simplistic, made up on the hoof, or posted in brief Twitter statements, and he has largely refused to participate in media conferences or to answer difficult questions if he does.
Even as he was building bridges at the CIA post-inauguration, he was still calling journalists ``scum''. It is the ``dishonest media'' therefore, which has supposedly misrepresented the numbers and pictures of his inauguration and continues to spread ``false narratives''. The new Trump administration will ``hold the press accountable'' but the administration will now take its message ``directly'' to the people.
This message actually contradicts the ``power to the people'' message of the new president's inauguration speech. For accountability to the people through the media (the people's watchdog) is a foundation stone of democracy.
These sorts of contradictions are what makes many people worried about his presidency and his trustworthiness.
Are all those he so viciously criticised now convinced by his assurances that ``no-one'' has more respect or love for women, Mexicans and the intelligence services than he does?
If foreign workers are the bane of the country, why has he employed them for his various businesses and what will he do about them now?
If the media is untrustworthy, how does he explain the fake news and fake facts spread by his own campaign, and his new administration's outright lies about the inauguration numbers and its rapid defence of them as ``alternative facts''?
The large crowds at demonstrations worldwide in the wake of the inauguration have showed the concern many feel. Yet, Americans did buy into the rhetoric, the lies and the despicable behaviour. The next four years will either cement the views, or create a new momentum for change.
It is a nervous time as the world cautiously learns to live with America's decision. However, as with Brexit, there are clear lessons for everyone - should politicians, press and the public wish to heed them.
In election year, New Zealanders have significant decisions to make. Do we follow or do we lead? Do we agitate for change or accept the status quo? Do we work to retain our values or let others take them away? Are we doomed to repeat the same hideous Orwellian spectacle or can we choose a path that does not decimate all we hold dear first.