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For Minnesota’s inaugural guests, Trump’s day a perfect moment

REUTERS/Brian Snyder
St. Louis County Commissioner Peter Stauber: “Now the power is going to be back in the hands of the people, and I look forward to President Trump’s leadership.”

Mike Lindell was excited for the first day of Donald Trump’s America. So excited, in fact, that he lost his voice.

The Minnesota entrepreneur who created MyPillow — sometimes called America’s “Pillow King” — was on hand for the inauguration of President Trump on Friday in Washington. Along with his brethren on the Trump Train, he shouted for joy as their man was sworn into office.

“It’s absolutely, absolutely surreal to me,” a hoarse Lindell told MinnPost. “It’s like, I don’t even know what to say.”

For much of the country — most, even, depending on how you look at it — this day is still surreal, but for another reason: disbelief that Donald Trump, a one-time reality TV host, actually became president.

As people assembled on the National Mall, inauguration veterans couldn’t help but note the very noticeable difference in crowd size between Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration, attended by some 1.8 million people and Trump’s event, attended by considerably fewer, though it’s unclear by how much.

But to hear Minnesotans who journeyed out to D.C. to watch Trump’s swearing-in, this moment was perfect — a vindication of a nationwide movement.

An ‘Obama-era’ moment?

Commissioner Pete Stauber

The inauguration ceremonies didn’t officially get going until around 11 in the morning, but Pete Stauber was in his seat by the West Front of the U.S. Capitol before sunrise.

Stauber, a Republican member of the St. Louis County Board of Commissioners, was in D.C. with a friend to take in the inaugural celebration of the man he strongly supported for president.

“For me, it’s just a really neat event to be at,” Stauber said. “Just to see the people, the change of authority, the change of power in a democratic way, peacefully, for me to experience that is just really important.”

He’s confident that Trump, and the new vice president, Mike Pence, can bridge the stark divisions in the country. (Stauber met Pence personally during a campaign stop in Duluth, an event he recalls very fondly.)

“Now the power is going to be back in the hands of the people,” Stauber said, “and I look forward to President Trump’s leadership.”

Sen. Paul Gazelka

Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka traveled out with his family for the inauguration, and was about 300 feet from the inaugural dais. “I took a picture and circled around with my camera, and I said, this is what freedom looks like, that we can actually transfer power peacefully,” he recalled.

Others saw the day as the crowning moment of a Trump movement, and the dawn of a new era in America.

Former Rep. Mark Anderson, a Republican who represented House District 9A before retiring at the end of the last legislative session, couldn’t get over the energy of the crowd.

“It’s almost as if there’s a sense of relief that the country is now free to express themselves,” he said. “We haven’t been able to express ourselves, especially the business people. They’ve been suppressed by the government. Now that veil is starting to be lifted.”

Heidi Ahmann, a Trump supporter from Willmar, came to the inauguration to strike an important item off her bucket list. She called the day euphoric: “I thought it was an Obama-era moment, but on the conservative side,” she said.

“I felt a new movement.”

Democrats showed up, too

Not all Minnesotans who showed up to the inauguration were Trump die-hards.

Bill Luther, who represented Minnesota’s 6th District as a Democrat from 1995 to 2003, comes to the inauguration every four years just because he thinks it’s important.

“I just believe in it,” he said. “I believe in our country, and the way we pass power peacefully, and how we conduct ourselves as a country, it’s a very important thing.”

Luther disagreed with the approach of Democrats like Rep. Keith Ellison, who declined to attend the inauguration out of protest. “I just feel good about our country by being at the inauguration,” he said.

But he couldn’t help but notice how sparse the crowds were, compared to Obama’s 2009 inauguration. That year, on a bitterly cold day, revelers crammed the National Mall, which was standing-room-only from the Capitol to the Washington Monument — a distance of about a mile.

Aerial photos from Friday’s ceremony showed a crowd far from that size. But that didn’t reflect the reality Trump-backers saw: one of unfettered enthusiasm for what the new administration might accomplish.

Gazelka praised Trump’s speech, and said it was time for Republicans and Democrats to work together. Gazelka mentioned that he was invited to Washington by Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan. “The fact that we came out together means there’s a number of things we can work on together,” he said.

“Any time you have a new president there’s a new transition, there’s a new level of hope. Certainly, Donald Trump is unique, he’s a maverick, he’s not all Democrat or all Republican,” he said.

Lindell, the Pillow King, has met Trump, who he says is fascinated by his unlikely rise to wealth and his U.S.-grown company. (Trump sent Lindell a special inaugural lapel pin, reserved for VIPs, Lindell says.)

He just hopes Trump’s many opponents could see the smarts and enthusiasm he sees in the new president. But he knows not everyone will get the chance, like he did, to meet the man to understand.

“If we all give it a chance,” Lindell said, “it’s going to be amazing.”

Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 01/20/2017 - 06:21 pm.

    Let’s See How These People Feel

    in a couple of years.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Minnesota Republican Party add “Independent” back into their name,…

    as they did after Nixon.

    I have EVERY confidence that the GOP will come to rue the day they allowed Donald Trump to run under their banner.

  2. Submitted by Mike Downing on 01/21/2017 - 08:30 am.

    Thank God for pendulum swings!

    I thank God for swings in America’s pendulum to keep America on it’s special course. We went off course over the last 8 years and there will be a course correction over the next 4-8 years.

    President Trump will bring jobs and prosperity back to America with full time not just part time jobs, 3-4% GDP growth rather than 1.5-2%, return foreign earnings (taxed in those countries) back to America for reinvestment, show what results orientated successful leaders in his cabinet can accomplish, restore our Constitutional republic, restore our military, restore our image in the world, etc.

    Yes, many of us believe President Obama was even worse than President Carter while you liberal progressives think President Trump is like Hitler, is a Putin puppet and will challenge his every move. Many of us will measure President Trump on his results while you will measure President Trump with how you feel…

    • Submitted by richard owens on 01/21/2017 - 05:18 pm.

      May our country be peaceful and prosperous our domestic affairs, and in those relationships with other people living on earth.

      “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” Confucius (China’s most famous teacher, philosopher, and political theorist, 551-479 BC).

  3. Submitted by Richard Helle on 01/21/2017 - 11:28 am.

    Puff piece

    “But that didn’t reflect the reality Trump-backers saw: one of unfettered enthusiasm for what the new administration might accomplish.”

    Mr. Brodey writes another puff piece normalizing this President. Unfettered enthusiasm for stripping health care insurance from millions? Unfettered enthusiasm for a dozen billionaires strip mining the US Economy and driving back into recession? Unfettered enthusiasm for a corrupt sociopath being commander and chief? Compare and contrast the crowds on the mall today versus yesterday. There’s the story Mr. Brodey. Try writing that.

  4. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 01/21/2017 - 12:51 pm.

    Who’s there yesterday and today?

    Not many people. Almost entirely white and heavily male.. Lots of Republican elected officials. A guy who sells two for one pillows on late night TV. It was kind not to mention that he recently got busted on his two for one deal, as the price of one was high enough to provide a good profit cushion for providing two. Probably not the intentional scam that is Donald Trump, as the pillows themselves are rated pretty well and he promises to change his advertising. However, as Trump promises to dismantle consumer protection, maybe he won’t have to drop the deception.

    The comparison with today’s march should be interesting, assuming that this is also reported here. Many more people, a lot more women (but also some male sympathizers), racially and economically diverse, maybe some politicians, although the force won’t be on them, and positive life-affirming message (not Trump’s midnight in America).

    The only carnage maybe some burgers and brats at the food trucks.

    Really unity of purpose and feeling of community, rather than exclusive world of those who live within a bubble. The net worth of the participants will not approach that of the folks in their fancy suits and dresses, but the kind of people who don’t talk about making America Great, but who actually get up early, work hard at home and at work and actually make America the greatest place it has always has been.

    There will be women who have been abused as children, raped as adults, deserted by philandering men, paid less for doing the same job better, who lost sons and daughters in the Middle East and the streets of America, but who through all this hardship, “took a licking and kept on ticking.”

    They are America at its finest. They only get “nasty” while they, their family and their communities are threatened by bullies who aspire to verbally beat them into submission.. Trump’s desire to treat women as arm candy, traded out like a fresh shirt, and claim male superiorty and dominance to the point of invading their bathrooms and bedrooms is way past the point of anythng they are going to passively accept.

    I honor their commitment to American values.

  5. Submitted by Howard Miller on 01/21/2017 - 04:03 pm.

    Another fake fact?

    Former Rep Mark Anderson states that “(w)e haven’t been able to express ourselves, especially the business people. They’ve been suppressed by the government. Now that veil is starting to be lifted.” This really dramatic (melodramatic, more like) statement begs for at least one example or reference. I don’t read the WSJ regularly so I may have missed the article about business folk so suppressed by Dodd Frank that they experienced breakdowns or started to cut themselves. Please Representative Anderson, can we have some idea what’s being referenced here. Business has had a really extraordinary run of freedom and profit-making from most rational perspectives; but especially from the perspective of what has NOT happened, i.e. bank/market collapse and stockbrokers and businessmen leaping to their doom as they did after Black Friday. There are my examples, where are yours?

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