I have just finished watching, and then reading, Donald J. Trump’s speech at his inauguration as the 45th President of the United States of America. It probably wasn’t a great use of an early Saturday morning.
Trump is obviously no orator. When he uses a teleprompter, as he did today, he has all the presence of those evangelists with their whiteboards standing in malls: they’re an inconvenience; you hope they don’t notice you; they’re easy enough to walk around and ignore. For what it’s worth, here are the highlights (I use the word loosely).
“…we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People…. For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost…. That all changes – starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.”
This is the central problem for Trump. Every paragraph of his speech was about redistributing power back to people in the USA who feel disenfranchised. If you have followed any coverage of his Cabinet picks, this is patently untrue. Five of them have walked directly from Goldman Sachs into his Administration. They are rich, white and committed to stripping wealth out of the USA for themselves and their companies.
When those disenfranchised people who voted for Trump are worse off under his Administration, their anger will quite transparently be directed towards minority Americans, immigrants and Muslims; but can it be directed as easily as he believes?
“The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening to you now.”
Well, this is true. Of course, he could have made it more accurate by pointing out decades of strategy in the Republican party to exploit fears of white Americans and then the supercharging of those fears through Fox News, leading to an out of control primary in which a rank outsider who exploited all those fears was elected to party nominee and now President.
Those people were forgotten, for example in the Rust Belt states. The problem is that these people have little idea of how they ended up impoverished and struggling because they have no access to information and news with any integrity. So what we are now listening to is a scream without substance or vision.
“…Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
This is one snapshot of a consistent theme in his speech: fear all who listen, for the USA is a dark, dangerous and ugly place. Trump revels in this darkness and hate. It’s pornographic; whereas his speech is dry and methodical when discussing the people and inclusion, he drools over these words. This is a President who believes dark things and will go dark places, and he is encouraged by those around him.
“We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon. One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.”
The irony is unbearable as Trump has consistently sent his businesses off shore. But that aside, we can be sure of one thing: the USA is turning inwards. Kiss the TPPA goodbye (which is the one fantastic piece of news in this whole affair). Kiss international cooperation goodbye. Kiss a functional role for the UN goodbye. Trump’s America is a self-interested, petty and ill-informed player now. But don’t worry, it won’t stop the wars, as he also committed to “eradicate completely from the face of the Earth,” radical Islamic terrorism. Music to the ears of hatemongers worldwide.
“From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.”
America First was a committee at the beginnings of World War Two that was anti-semitic and encouraged appeasement of the Third Reich. This is quite consistent with the inward looking America Trump is describing. There is no ugly deal he won’t reach if it will help him avoid being involved in the world.
But America First is not for African Americans, Native Americans, Latino Americans, immigrants, let alone illegal immigrants. America First is a white slogan. It is a neo-Nazi proto-fascist slogan. Dark times are coming for protestors and activists, particularly with the weak sauce Democrats looking to accommodate rather than resist this new President.
“America will start winning again, winning like never before…”
As you can imagine, he went on and on about the ways America will win. But what is clear is he associates winning with strength. Difference and diversity are weaknesses. Power is king. There’s no plan here; even his buy and hire America statement arrives stillborn because he himself has never done it.
So ended an uninspiring speech written by a hack. It had many of the same themes that we heard during his campaign, indeed he sounded like he is still campaigning. Which makes clear that the craziness, the rage, the tweeting, the facade over substance is not about to stop now. The United States of America is about to go AWOL for at least four years.