WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s inaugural address did little to quell some Maryland Democrats’ anxieties over what they see as a potentially divisive administration.
But Republicans like Holly Malec, who recently moved with her family to Rockville, Maryland, from Texas, said she was heartened by Trump’s promise to unite Americans and work for the people.
“I think he can help Americans get along,” she said.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, was doubtful, issuing a statement denouncing the tone of Trump’s remarks.
“President Trump had an opportunity today to unite this country in his inaugural remarks. He chose not to do that,” Hoyer said. “The president will have to set aside such divisive rhetoric. He must extend a hand to the plurality of Americans who did not choose him to be our next leader.”
In Maryland last November, 60 percent of voters backed Democrat Hillary Clinton for president. She was in attendance at Friday’s inauguration.
While Hoyer went to the inauguration, more than 60 other Democratic lawmakers boycotted, including Maryland Democratic Reps. Anthony Brown and Jamie Raskin.
In his speech, Trump criticized what he described as elitist Washington politics that ignored the needs of regular citizens, and vowed to put power back into the hands of everyday people. But he offered little in the way of addressing what many see as his own brand of elitism — and potentially conflicting relationships — within the private sector.
Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, who has been an outspoken critic of Trump’s expansive business ventures and potential conflicts of interest, released a statement on Twitter condemning Trump’s complex web of multinational business ties.
“Now @realDonaldTrump is president, he is bound by oath to uphold & defend the #Constitution. Mr. President, you must divest from businesses,” Cardin tweeted.
Citing a phrase from the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, he added, “This is not an esoteric argument about rules. Divestiture from business dealings protects @POTUS and the country from #conflictsofinterest. @POTUS remaining entangled w/ private businesses invites foreign entities to curry favor through leases, deals, gifts.”
Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is part of a group of Democratic legislators working on a bill that would force Trump to remove himself from any conflicts of interest regarding his domestic and international businesses.
As Thomas Monje, 30, listened to Trump’s inaugural address on his way home from Lanham to Rockville, he said he felt shocked.
Trump assumed office with unprecedented unpopularity, and Monje, who voted for Clinton, said Trump’s remarks did not show a willingness to heal a divided country.
“The only silver lining I see from all of this is when the American people get pushed into a corner they are very resilient,” said Monje. “I think in the next four years we’ll be seeing a lot of activists and people who will rise up to the challenge.”
The first move of Baltimore’s newly elected city council last month was to unanimously pass a resolution condemning Trump’s “divisive and scapegoating rhetoric, rooted in hate and prejudice.” In Trump’s inaugural address, he referred to crime and “poverty in our inner cities,” and said “this American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said in a statement after the address that she looked forward to working with the incoming administration on “infrastructure improvements and putting Baltimore residents to work.”
Despite Maryland’s deeply Democratic electorate and Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s refusal to vote for Trump, Hogan attended the inauguration, as well as other pro-Trump Marylanders.
Malec, 46, said she’d been frustrated by the amount of negative discourse in politics recently and hoped Trump could help in mending the divisions she believed had grown up among various sectors of the population.
Rick Villareal, 45, a Trump supporter from Severn, soaked in the moment. His greatest takeaway from the speech was optimism.
“The energy level of trying to make America great again, that whole theme,” Villareal said. “There is hope, and we just continue striving together.”