The Atlantic Daily: Power and the People

Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

Carlos Barria / Reuters

What We’re Following

The President: That title now officially refers to Donald J. Trump, who took the oath of office at noon today on the National Mall. (Here’s all our coverage from the ceremony and its aftermath.) In his inaugural address, Trump cast his presidency as a transfer of power from politicians’ hands into the hands of the people; he promised to end the “American carnage” of unemployment and poverty; and, above all, he pledged to put “America first.” Trump is well poised to act on his promises: Republicans now control both houses of Congress. And while many hope that moderate party members will contain the populist president, he’s already begun to establish his dominance over the GOP.

The People: Trump supporters who attended the inauguration were optimistic—both about America’s prospects for healing its divisions and about how the new president can improve the nation’s economy. On that second point, though, it may not be the people who benefit: Despite his pledge to fight for ordinary citizens, the policy agenda he’s laid out so far—with cuts to both taxes and social programs—looks more likely to enrich the already-wealthy than help out the everyman. Meanwhile, many Trump supporters—while broadly hopeful about the change he can bring—remain anxious about his temperament and acknowledge that his outsider status brings some uncertainty. As one Virginia voter put it, “We’re all taking a chance.”

The Path Ahead: How much of a chance? In this animation, veteran political writer James Fallows reflects on what may be a new era in American politics. One thing’s for sure: Outside America’s moment of change, the rest of the world goes on. Here are the three foreign-policy crises Trump is likely to face as president, including a possible economic war with China and a power grab by Putin in Europe. And here’s what happened in the world today while America was watching Trump.


Trump arrives at his inauguration ceremony on January 20, 2017. See more photos of the inauguration here. (Doug Mills / Getty)

Who We’re Talking To

Alexis Shotwell, author of a new book on how to live ethically, discusses why striving for individual purity may not be productive.

Ted Mitchell, who oversaw higher education under Obama, looks back at the administration’s education accomplishments and failures—and shares advice for his successor.

Richard Edelman, whose firm has for 17 years polled people around the world about their faith in institutions, explains why—when trust is declining globally—people trust Trump.

Evening Read

John Paul Rollert on America’s first true businessman president:

Most presidents have had some experience in private enterprises before entering the Oval Office, a few of them quite substantial. … No president, however, has ever spent his entire adult life immersed in the hustle and bustle of business or, to use Trump’s preferred nomenclature, deal-making. That activity—global in scope, arcane in detail—has received special scrutiny in light of the president-elect’s refusal to release his tax returns, and not without reason. Conflicts of interests come in many forms, but few are as worrisome as the leader of the free world keeping one eye on his portfolio whenever he contemplates some policy decision.

Such concerns have always dogged presidential contenders who campaign on their business acumen, and the reason why so many Americans are willing to overlook the opportunities for cronyism and self-dealing is an abiding belief that spending time “in business” is ideal training for being the commander-in-chief. That assumption is hardly outrageous, but it is too often predicated on the belief that the president is essentially the nation’s CEO, a common misconception that warps one’s understanding of how exactly the federal government works.

Keep reading here, as Rollert explores what the divergence between presidential and business leadership means for Trump’s presidency. And for more on presidential temperament, watch this video on how Trump’s tweets compare to past leaders’ methods of connecting with the public.

What Do You Know?

1. About two-thirds of astronauts report changes in their sense of ____________ once they return from the International Space Station.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. To count the number of people attending the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, imaging experts will use the technology of a ____________.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. The first U.S. president to take the oath of office in a public ceremony was ____________.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Poem of the Week

Trump didn’t have a poet speak at his inauguration, but in the aftermath of his victory in November, several readers recommended poems for coping with uncertainty and change. From Jared, here’s an excerpt from T.S. Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday”:

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

More here. If you have a poem to share that brings you hope and comfort, please send it to us at

Reader Response

Zuleyma Peralta, a Ph.D. candidate in Queens, New York, immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico as a child. To her, America symbolizes “the fact that you can come here and make something of yourself, even if you come from nothing.” More portraits and interviews about America at its best here.

Reader Shelley, who immigrated to the U.S. with her family when she was 5, continues our series of naturalization stories:

We came from Israel—a country only a decade old at the time—to help with some of my health issues and so that my father could find better business opportunities. … My parents had been refugees from Nazi Europe in 1938. They met in pre-Israel Palestine and were filled with hope when they came to America.

At age 11, I was naturalized, along with my parents. I don’t remember much about the ceremony, but over the years, being a “hyphenated” American has kept me thinking about the responsibility of being a good citizen. It has made me sensitive to the fact that so many countries do not promise the rights our country does, that many people died to obtain and retain these rights, and that we have a role to play in preserving them.

Read more here.

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Selves split, speeches addressed, progress probed, officials horn in.

The Atlantic Daily is written by Rosa Inocencio Smith. To contact us, email