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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Columns

Breaking down Trump’s inauguration speech


In the weeks leading up to the inauguration, everyone was ready to see what President Donald J. Trump was going to say in his first official speech as president.

It was very unclear what was going to happen during Trump’s speech at the annual transition of power. I was expecting a lot of “Make America Great Again” and some other jingoistic language that perpetuated the Trump campaign.

The speech came on a rainy day with an American people watching and wondering where the country will be heading under a new and very green president. It was nothing truly special; nothing new or important was said. Trump gave a pretty normal stump speech. However, it was a calmer and more refined Trump, which needed to happen.

As with all things to do with Trump, there was a good Trump and a bad Trump. But unlike what CNN thinks, this is not the most radical inauguration speech, ever.

Good Trump

“The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.”

Trump has a very good way of making blue-collar, manufacturing, small-town people feel very good. He did an excellent job of giving those people hope—something that was all but lost for the last 2 presidencies. Trump brings hope, and he is extraordinarily, almost unnaturally, good at that. Trump said, “America will start winning again. Winning like never before. We will bring back our jobs.”

That pretty much sums it up.

Populism was a big part of the speech, and not always in a bad way. A vast part of Trump’s campaign was the #DraintheSwamp rhetoric (which he hasn’t done a great job of with his cabinet picks). Trump, per usual, did a great job making the people feel like the politicians were leaving politics. Somewhat quoting Bane, Trump said, “we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.”

That is what people like to hear. Trump’s inherently populist rhetoric connects with an audience. They want the government to let the reigns go a little bit. This was great on his part. It shunned “the establishment” and gave the little guys hope.

Bad Trump

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”

Trump, on this most important day, destroyed any thought and hope conservatives had for a conservative Trump presidency. He did not lay out a new government more focused on limiting its rights (looks like John Locke was correct), which conservatives have been hoping for during the last 12 or so years.

The worst part of the speech is when he began to indirectly talk about free trade. Free trade has been a conservative principle until this election, when half the country forgot what they had been voting in favor of for the past 200 years. Protectionism does not work—it just sounds really good if you’ve lost your job or encountered tough economic times (which is more than understandable). Trump, though, knows his audience and he did a good job of talking about protectionism.

Then, there was nationalism. Nationalism was everywhere in Trump’s inauguration speech. If an English teacher asked me to pick out what Trump’s theme was, it would be nationalism. It is not an inherently bad thing, and the nationalism in Trump’s speech was not all bad (protecting the country from terrorists). But it was mostly bad.

The “America First” lingo is the bad nationalism. Sure, it’s good to care about your country. If you didn’t bad things might happen, but that can go too far. When protectionism turns into isolationism thanks to nationalism, a country without allies that is purely reliant on itself is ultimately created. Like it or not, globalism is here, and to stray too far away at this point in its development would not end well for America. 

While we have to wait and see what really comes of a Trump presidency, we have a few indicators, some good and some bad. We know he will not be the conservative that many people wanted him to be; he’s not a conservative. It’ll be extremely interesting to see where the country heads. We do have Gen. Mattis, now, and that man is the hero America deserves.

Assistant opinion editor Jorden Smith is a political science and creative writing senior and can be reached at [email protected]

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