Thoughts on Trump’s Inaugural Address

Today, Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.

The ceremonies were meh. Everyone knew what was going to happen ahead of time – who was going to pray, who was going to read Scripture, who was going to sing and play music.

The real attraction was Trump’s inaugural address. America was eager to hear the vision Trump would offer for our nation. Trump’s address started and closed with appeals to national unity, sandwiching more policy-oriented statements. Let’s take a moment and unpack exactly what he said.

You can find the New York Times’ transcript of Trump’s inaugural address here.

Returning power to the people

Because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.

Ironically, the people have indicated that they decidedly dislike Trump.

Also ironic is the fact that Trump plans to kick off his presidency by signing a stack executive orders. Yup, you got it – he’s starting off his term by exercising the power of Washington, D.C.

Calls for national unity

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 Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.

I appreciated Trump’s calls for unity, but I wish he made them earlier.

Trump had 19 months to tell his alt-right followers that “there is no room for prejudice” “when you open your heart to patriotism.” But he never did.

Trump had 19 months to tell America that “we are one nation.” But he never did.

All that makes it hard to believe that Trump is truly interested in a unified nation now. Trump’s campaign was all about tearing down Washington, D.C., attacking the left, and shredding any Republican who dared oppose the Donald. Trump’s rhetoric consistently attacked immigrants and foreign countries. His campaign became the rallying point for the alt-right.

Trump had every opportunity to temper his rhetoric with statements like “we share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny,” but he didn’t – until now.

Trump finally says that he’s pursuing unity. I hope he’s telling the truth, but I’m skeptical.

Poverty, education, crime, and drugs

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 all knowledge. And the crime and the gangs and the 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.

In this part of the inaugural address, Trump runs through a quick checklist of America’s problems.

Several of the problems he mentions are, interestingly, problems he forgot to talk about during his campaign. Think poverty, education, and drugs – Trump pretty much ignored those issues. Similarly, the problem of crime is a problem he’s never presented solutions for, or discussed in any depth.

Border security

We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own.

I’m all for border security. But Trump has quite a few unanswered questions to deal with, including exactly how he’s going to get Mexico to pay for ‘the wall.’

Trade, jobs, and industry

We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

No kidding. A ton of Trump products are produced overseas.

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.

Trump recognizes that companies are leaving America and moving production overseas. He doesn’t like that.

Let’s be honest – Trump’s rhetoric is appealing. Of course we want more jobs. Of course we want economic growth. Of course we want prosperity.

But Trump’s wrong. Outsourcing is not a problem. Globalization doesn’t suffocate prosperity. Cheap products and free trade don’t hurt our economy – they help everyone. In contrast, protectionism harms prosperity and leads to a weak national economy.

Example: When Pants, Inc. moves production overseas to cut costs, that’s a good thing for everyone. Suppose Pants, Inc. can cut the price of pants from $50 to $30 by moving its production to Timbuktu. Pants, Inc. can now sell more pants because its pants are cheaper, and Americans can save $20 every time they buy pants. Sure, the Americans laid off by Pants, Inc. will be hard hit temporarily, but the influx of cash into our economy will spur economic growth and open job opportunities for them. In the end, everyone is better off than before. Free trade is good for everyone.

Buy American and hire American.

Go ahead. You can buy Ameri-Pants for $50 apiece if you want. I’m going to buy virtually identical pants made overseas by Pants, Inc. for $30 apiece. I don’t mind saving $20 every time I buy pants.

Blindly buying/hiring American will only hurt yourself.

Infrastructure

We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation.

Sorry fiscal conservatives, but yes, Trump really did say that.

Welfare

We will get our people off of welfare and back to work rebuilding our country.

My big question: how?

Trump is great at listing off a checklist of nice things, but he’s very vague about how he plans to achieve all of them.

Alliances

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.

Good words. I hope Trump follows through. Going forward, he needs to clear up his plans regarding NATO and the UN, and he needs to give America a solid plan on how to defeat ISIS.

What about the stuff Trump didn’t say?

Trump said a lot during his short inaugural address, but perhaps more important are the topics he omitted.

During his address, Trump conspicuously avoided several hot topics, including Russia, the South China Sea, and the Supreme Court. Be sure to keep an eye on what he does in those areas in the next few weeks.

Header photo originally by Chip Somodevilla. Used under the fair use doctrine for non-profit critical commentary.


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