Wednesday 11 December 2019

Instead of a call for unity, new president told Americans their country was broken

People march in protest to U.S. President Donald Trump's inauguration in Seattle, Washington, U.S. January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Redmond
People march in protest to U.S. President Donald Trump's inauguration in Seattle, Washington, U.S. January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Redmond

Shona Murray

Donald Trump's speech was another version of the dystopian America he portrayed during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in July which confirmed him as the party's nominee for president.

During that time, Mr Trump said America was living through a "moment of crisis" with "attacks on our police and terrorism in our cities" threatening America's "way of life".

Yesterday, instead of a rallying call of pride and unity, he chose again this time to tell every American that all was not well.

"An education system flush with cash, which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge," he said.

Not only is President Trump offering a vision of hopelessness on the institution that most shapes the future citizens of a country, he doubled-down on his dystopia by saying the situation is so dire and out-of-hand that even cash injections can't save it.

"The crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealised potential," he added, using the same 'law and order' theme that drew him great support from the party faithful at the convention, and onwards throughout the campaign.

It was an obvious and fitting lead up to the 'Make America Great Again' slogan.

In other words, I'm on your side, but some of this may be too intractable. His war against the Washington elite was fitting and true; "Washington flourished but the people did not share its wealth."

He may have thanked the Obamas, saying they were "magnificent" at the beginning of the speech, but immediately afterwards launched in to a dark and unveiled assessment of the bleak outlook that faces the country.

Never mind the fact that the jobless rate is almost at full employment, never mind that in eight years America has remained free of terror attacks orchestrated and conducted from outside, and never mind that in spite of impossible obstruction from Congress, Guantanamo Bay is all but closed.

"This American carnage stops right here and stops right now" - a chilling, unequivocal description, regardless whether the facts bear out, focusing on the apparently latent threat of Islamic terrorism, and the miserable prospect of living among the factories "scattered like tombstones".

The culprit: foreign industry and governments in spite of the fact that almost every international trade agreement and military alignment is dominated by the demands of the US.

"For many decades, we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidised the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military," he said. The solution: a retreat from globalisation. "We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams," he told Americans.

Mr Trump all but said that the American dream was over; and yet so many who heard his words seemed overjoyed by what they'd heard.

No need to despair, said John Burke from Pennsylvania. "I thought it went awesome," he said. "We've been waiting to hear this for the last eight years; he's going to secure our borders and take control."

And Jay Tyrrell from Chicago admired his new president's strong words.

"I like how firm he is - he's going to bring this country back to what it was before," he said.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News