Editorial: The Trump era begins
President Donald Trump stayed on message in his inaugural speech Friday, touching on the major themes that resonated with voters during his campaign — protection, patriotism and a huge sense of his personal power.
Some pundits said Trump’s speech lacked the soaring rhetoric and optimism that typifies inaugural addresses. Where were the inspiring phrases about peacemaking and unity? The pundits don’t get it. To core Trump supporters who long for change in this country — blue collar workers who have seen their jobs shipped overseas, for example — Trump’s words were uplifting. “This moment is your moment,” he said, speaking directly to the displaced and disgruntled. “It belongs to you.”
Hyperbole is Trump’s modus operandi, and he laid it on thick in this speech, as he did during the campaign. He painted an overly dark picture of the nation’s current status and an dubiously bright picture of his ability to change it, all awash in American patriotism.
Trump described rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the country, mothers and children trapped in poverty, schools that produce students who are deprived of knowledge, gangs and drugs that have stolen lives. “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” the president said.
This is not Reagan’s morning in America. This is the dark before a Trump-powered dawn. “I will never let you down,” he promised, and followed with sunny phrases:
“Winning like never before.”
“Bring back our dreams.”
“We will shine. ”
“A new national pride.”
“Our American destiny.”
And, finally, “Make America great again” — the phrase Trump trademarked just days after Obama won his second term in 2012. Often last year, Trump appeared to be politicking by the seat of his pants, a novice making gauche mistakes. In reality, he had been crafting his message and strategy for a very long time. The establishment — Republican and Democratic — couldn’t see beyond the showmanship.
Notably missing from Trump’s address was an extended call for unity, though he did point out that everyone bleeds red blood. If anything, he threw shade on many of the elected Republicans who helped him win. They may wear the same party label, but the Trump presidency will be no cakewalk for the people who run Congress.
Love him or loathe him, Donald Trump is president. His opponents may never be able to look past troubling aspects of the election — the popular vote, Russian hacking, FBI statements and the like — but none of that changes the fact that Trump is our nation’s political leader.
Obama’s presidency led to the creation of the Tea Party. Trump is sparking a opposition movement, too. Protests are to be expected; as Americans, we cherish our right of free speech. This is not the time, however, for congressional Democrats to engage in blind obstructionism, even if others have used that tactic before. Every president deserves the chance to lead.