Substance and Purpose: The Inauguration of President Donald J. Trump
As Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the forty-fifth President of the United States, the full fruition of a lifetime’s work, and four years of planning, came into its own, on Friday, January 20th, 2017. His inaugural address, quite different in tone and substantively different from any in history, yet drawn from John F. Kennedy’s and Ronald Reagan’s inaugural addresses, was a direct message to the American people that their elected officials are hereby put on notice, that things are going to be very different, going forward. Further, he put the world on notice that America’s priorities are now going to shift in a direction not seen in eight decades and that the United States will henceforth pursue a direction, in policy and practice, which puts America and Americans first and foremost.
On the very evening of Mitt Romney’s loss to incumbent President Barack Obama, in November of 2012, Mr. Trump made a decision to seek the nation’s highest office, realizing then that real change in the relationship the federal government has with its citizens, was going to have to come from outside the political powerhouses dominating both parties- a decision which was well kept secret, until he formally announced his candidacy in June of 2015. At that time, his wife Melania Trump wasn’t entirely happy with her husband’s plans, considering the very real possibility of Trump’s eventual success, and recognizing the changes to the lives of herself, and her son Barron, which would no doubt result. Donald Trump envisioned that very night, the slogan “Make America Great,” and had the foresight to trademark it, the next day. In reconsideration of how this might be misconstrued as a negative jab at America, he went back and re-filed the trademark application with the more familiar “Make America Great Again,” which became the slogan of his campaign, two and a half years later. Largely lampooned and derided from the day of his announcement, Trump ignored the pundits and politicians, the experts and the media, and all of those many who said it couldn’t be done, and the rest became indelible and certain history.
Historically, inauguration speeches have often borne a tendency to be both lofty and inspirational, espousing visionary platitudes of philosophical postulations, and have been intended to be more noteworthy in eloquence, than substantive in articulation. Think of Kennedy’s soaring rhetoric, of Reagan’s exquisite and popular connectivity and, most recently, Obama’s philosophical oratory. Trump drew on some of these themes, such as Kennedy’s “…common enemies of man- tyranny, poverty, disease and war, itself…” and Reagan’s “…government isn’t the solution to the problem- government is the problem…” and set down to write a speech in his own unique, direct and inimitable style.
As a result, Trump’s speech was very different, in both tone and substance, from any that has ever been delivered in the past. He spoke directly to the American people, issuing an indictment against the creeping globalism of both parties and, in front of his presidential predecessors who all pursued this agenda, informed the world of a new and impactful direction in its international dealings that places American interests first and foremost:
“We are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power. 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.”
Citing the record of elected officials pursuing policies that have largely left Americans forgotten and marginalized, Trump said:
“For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and, while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land”
But then, later added:
“January 20th, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.”
Often citing these “forgotten,” the “mothers and children trapped in poverty,” the “rusted out factories, scattered like tombstones” (devoid of labor), and an “education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge,” Trump promised that the effects of these deprivations- “crime, gangs and drugs, costing lives and unrealized potential,” would be put to an end, and pronounced that this “carnage stops… right here, right now.”
Quite possibly, the best and most profound part of his address was when he said:
“We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow. We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth. At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America and, through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.”
The speech was largely panned by the entire mainstream media. Some, like CNN’s Chris Matthews, described its nationalistic tone as “Hitler-ian” and reminiscent of 1930’s “Nazism.” Others have grumbled that the speech was “divisive, and failed to reach out to a divided country-especially those who did not support Trump’s candidacy.” Still others have impugned Trump’s speech as being “inconsistent with Republican and conservative orthodoxy.” Yet, just as the mainstream media failed to recognize the populist draw of Trump’s message during the campaign, they also now fail to acknowledge that Trump’s inauguration address has found much favor with the American people, who have witnessed first-hand, the effects of globalist policies which have left them in the lurch, and witnessed the redistribution of their earnings, spread across the globe.
Trump’s speech was largely like the man who delivered it- direct, intentional and without any sense of being vague or indefinite. It sought not the loftiness of prose, not the cadence of poetry, nor the appeal to the intellectual and academic. Rather, it was an appeal directly to the American people, for singleness in purpose and in national unity, to refute the “expertise” of those who spread the poisons of inefficacy, impotence and impossibility- all in an effort to “make America great again.”
That such an inauguration and an inaugural address would draw such scorn from those who would still seek to indict Trump’s presidency, speaks loud and clear about the true sources of division in our country- and President Donald J. Trump is neither its culprit, nor its creator.
Ironically, however, he may prove to be its healer. If even in the end, he is only partially successful in realizing the promises he has espoused, he will have achieved a vaunted level of greatness and excellence in the service of his country- one in which future generations will look back upon his election, as the time when we the people, of the United States of America, finally saved ourselves from our own demise.
Godspeed, Mr. President. Godspeed.
-Drew Nickell, 21 January 2017
© 2017 by Drew Nickell, all rights reserved.
author of “Bending Your Ear- a Collection of Essays on the Issues of Our Times”
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