*It’s official. Donald Trump has been sworn in as president. And in his speech he stuck to his guns and repeated several of the inflammatory statements that earned him so many supporters. Which would be noteworthy unless you consider that this speech was supposed to be the one that united the nation.
“January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.” This is ironic because more people voted for Clinton than Trump. Not that anyone could really expect him to deny his victory; he won more states so he gets to be president. But if you are trying to unite the country, there are better ways to do that than to point out the undemocratic nature of your victory.
“For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military. We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own.” I’m not sure what depletion of our military Trump is referring to. The American military is still the largest and most powerful force in the world. As a businessman at his core I wouldn’t expect that Trump is proposing to tell private businesses where to operate. But the government and in particular the defense industry is still run in this country. So this seems to be something his base would want to hear, but hardly the thing that would unite the country.
“We assembled here today 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.” Trump is implying that past administrations were not putting America first. What is he taling about? I can’t believe that he thought taking a shot at former presidents was the way to get everyone behind him.
“We will follow two simple rules; buy American and hire American.” As paradoxical as this statement is, it might be his best attempt at uniting the country. Because everyone can get behind chastising him for making this statement after he has routinely hired foreign workers (even illegal residents) in his business career.
“There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God.” This is exactly the opposite of bringing people together. This statement ignores the concerns of people of color about law enforcement. The basic premise of Black Lives Matter is that many black people do fear encounters with law enforcement and justifiably so.
There were parts of the speech that were more universal in their appeal. But I worry that Trump is either not savvy enough to shift from campaigning to governing as evidenced by the prevalence of statements that seemed copied and pasted from September statements.
At least I hope he’s not savvy enough. Because the alternative is that he is smart enough to shift but doesn’t care.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.