ANALYSIS: For Donald Trump, Call for Unity Starts With Bleak Message

PHOTO: President-elect Donald J. Trump takes the oath of office as the 45th President of the United States in Washington, Jan. 20, 2017.PlayDrew Angerer/Getty Images
WATCH President Trump's Inauguration Day: Part 1

A divided nation on edge greeted a new president on Friday.

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And President Donald J. Trump delivered a message unlike any the nation had heard from its leader. The nation is broken, he said - drifting, decaying, addled by crimes and drugs — and Trump presented himself as the figure who will “fight for you.”

“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” the new president declared. “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first. America first.”

Yet the America he’s putting first is not united and not particularly optimistic. His portrait of America was similar to the one he embraced as a candidate, with little adjustment for the fact that he is now president.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks at inauguration ceremonies swearing him in as the 45th president of the United States on the West front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 20, 2017. Carlos Barria/Reuters
President Donald Trump speaks at inauguration ceremonies swearing him in as the 45th president of the United States on the West front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 20, 2017.

Trump’s short speech offered essentially no acknowledgment of the millions who opposed his campaign. It was an appeal and a pledge to his base — to the millions of Americans for whom this is a moment of great hope and not those greeting this era with trepidation.

He addressed “forgotten men and women” directly: “You will never be ignored again.”

In vowing to be their voice, Trump outlined a vision for unity that starts with a nation lining up behind its new president. He hinted at an agenda that will scramble party lines — on trade, on infrastructure — while emphasizing aspects that are likely to harden his opposition.

PHOTO: President-elect Donald J. Trump delivers his Inaugural address after taking the oath of office as the 45th President of the United States in Washington, D.C., Jan. 2017. JUSTIN LANE/EPA
President-elect Donald J. Trump delivers his Inaugural address after taking the oath of office as the 45th President of the United States in Washington, D.C., Jan. 2017.

Trump’s vision is a rebuke not just to President Obama but also to presidents who came before him. His suggestion that “you, the people” will now come back into great power is provocative and could test his own Republican Party’s loyalty to him.

The president’s prescription comes down to the same word he famously plasters on his airplanes and his buildings. As if on cue, the pageantry of Inauguration Day, with its familiar and beautiful American rituals, obscured the nation’s divisions only for as long as it took protesters to seize the streets.

Trump’s hope is that success will be its own uniting force — a new creed built around a new president, at an anxious time for the nation.

“A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights and heal our divisions,” Trump said.

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