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Along with many other Michiganians and Americans, this past weekend my wife and I attended the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as president of the United States. This ritual of our democracy, established in our Constitution, brings people together and provides an opportunity for the president to speak directly to people about his hope for the future.

That day I was struck by the uniquely American transition of power and responsibility from former President Obama to President Trump. The grace of the Obamas greeting the Trumps at the White House and Melania Trump bringing a gift for Michelle Obama were beautiful examples of kindness.

There were no tanks and no troops and no need for regional powers threatening to force a defeated president to relinquish power, as occurred in Gambia during the very same period of time.

Yet a militant group planned violent acts and burned vehicles, smashed windows of small businesses and attacked the police. Their purpose? To intimidate and silence the families who voted for Trump. These criminal acts go far beyond free speech and peaceful marches and assembly. Not only should those responsible be charged with crimes, but leaders of the Democrat Party must disavow this violence so it does not occur again. Their silence has been deafening.

One person who did not stand silent on Inauguration Day was the president, who stood up for working families who are the forgotten casualties of the global economy. But I was struck by the negative reaction of the national media. When the liberal elites attacked the speech, they showed they just don’t get it. They don’t understand Michigan or America, or why blue collar working counties like Macomb, Saginaw, Monroe and Bay switched to Trump in 2016, giving President Trump a victory on election day.

The president’s speech was an “Ode to Allentown,” an accurate portrayal of large portions of America’s heartland, like Billy Joel’s classic song about “closing all the factories down.”

Many of us in Michigan and America know of an Allentown. Criticism of the speech comes from liberal elites and national media on each coast who have no idea of what occurs between New York and Los Angeles. They exhibit little understanding of what happens to a community when a factory closes or, the local hardware store is shuttered as jobs evaporate, making it harder for schools to function because of a decreased tax base.

Trump heard the voices of families in big cities and small towns, blue collar or no collar who have lived by the compact echoed in “Allentown” that “if we work hard, if we behave” then opportunity was possible.

Perhaps the liberal elites and national media should spend time in an Allentown. See the challenges of an urban public school, of a community where the tool and die shops have gone away. See what happens when the refrigerator plant closes in Greenville, Michigan, or when an assembly line stops in the Midwest. Critics of Trump’s speech could read J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy,” a compelling story of the shifting demographics and loss of jobs and family disruption in the coal and manufacturing country of Ohio and Kentucky.

Trump provided a message of hope to the forgotten working families of America. While the coastal elites don’t want to hear about the “rusted-out factories, scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation,” those who live in the shadow of such facilities heard a new president speaking directly to them.

Bill Schuette is the attorney general of Michigan.

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