The peaceful transition of American power will be witnessed by the world once again Friday. Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. That has brought jubilation in conservative America. For them, Trump's win is a sigh of relief, a repudiation of Barack Obama's America and a pause on the liberalization of the world's remaining superpower.
But this day isn't without controversy. There are hard feelings — and fear — in the other America. That America sees Trump's win as unfair and unjust — given Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes, given Russian meddling in the election intended to boost Trump, and given the unprecedented way Trump presented himself during the campaign. He went after all comers. No one was beyond reproach or the basest insult.
A polarized country, which in many ways can be separated by how one views Trump, sets the backdrop for the incoming president's inaugural speech. And Trump has a powerful bully pulpit to work from. While he is coming into office with the lowest favorability ratings of any president since polling began, he also has the biggest Republican majority in the House in a century and a majority in the Senate. Trump has pledged to keep his inaugural speech short, but what he says could have far-reaching consequences. Those words may signal a critical course for how he intends to reach out across the American divide — and how he intends to govern.
The speech, while central, is one part of a full day of events.
Here's what to expect throughout the day:
- Events begin with a service at 8:30 a.m. ET. at Saint John's Church, across from the White House.
- Trump's and Pence's families then attend a tea at the White House with the outgoing president and Michelle Obama, before heading to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.
- The swearing-in ceremony is expected to begin around 11 a.m. ET, with the inaugural address to follow. Trump will be sworn in with Lincoln's Bible, the same used for Obama's ceremonies. He will also use his personal Bible.
- The families of the new president and vice president head to a congressional luncheon at the Capitol. What's on the menu? Steak, ice cream, lobster and chocolate souffle, USA Today reports.
- Meanwhile, the Obamas fly to Joint Base Andrews, where Obama will say farewell to his staff before leaving for Palm Springs, Calif.
- The inaugural parade begins at 3 p.m. More than 8,000 people will be led by Trump and Pence from the Capitol to the White House, according to Trump's Presidential Inaugural Committee, which has a full list of participants, including members of the military, veterans groups, school bands and Boy Scouts of America.
- In the evening, President Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Vice President Pence and second lady Karen Pence will attend the Liberty and Freedom Ball at the Washington Convention Center.