The inauguration of President Donald J Trump has sent a very clear message to the world; we are not dreaming. This is real. Donald Trump has just become the 45th president of the United States of America and his inaugural speech has done nothing to calm the anxieties of the global community.
Any shred of hope that Donald Trump might focus on conciliation or the chance he has been given to do good vanished with a pageant of combative rhetoric, reminiscent of his forceful campaign trail. His speech was pessimistic and zealously patriotic, paying lip-service to those who put him in power. To be honest, I didn’t expected anything else.
I have my worries about Trump. He can continue dividing us, driving a stake through communities on the basis of race or ethnicity or sexuality. But, I was hoping he would use the inaugural speech to show the American people – and the global community watching all around the world – that he was willing to play ball. To play a game of unity and solidarity and togetherness. Instead, he stole it all for himself.
Trump gave no reassurance nor offered an olive branch to the majority of the population who did not vote for him. While he named President Bill Clinton, there was no mention of Hillary Clinton, the candidate who lost only due to the electoral college system and not the popular vote. There was no mention nor good wish extended to President George HW Bush, who was hospitalised at the time. Trump spoke like a true isolationist.
Trump’s speech tried to pander to what we wanted. He spoke of seeking “friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world.” However, even that was followed by a clear indication that his friendship was not sincere as he stressed the importance “that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.” This is typical of Donald Trump’s rhetorical history. His speeches, his writings, even his online media, are drenched in false sentiment sandwiched between undermining comments and blatant attempts at getting his point across come hell or high water.
His nods to an equal society, one without prejudice, were also insincere. His mantra that “when you open your heart to patriotism there is no need room for prejudice” cuts no ice. It’s cold. It’s ruthless. It’s forced. If you fill your heart with nothing more than a love of one’s country, it may leave you without wrongful prejudice, but it also leaves no room for anything else. I don’t want any of the patriotism he’s pitching at my door. And, the cliché, “whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood”, which may have gotten a showing of supporting from the crowd, does not show any originality or creativity. Resorting to clichés to try and unify his people, to rouse the people to stand with him, is nothing more than an empty attempt. It’s filler – the same way you might ask about the weather just to get a conversation moving.
And, Trump speaks of “American carnage”, a country that must be made great again. He describes the country he’s now charged to protect like a hellscape ripped straight from a dystopian fairytale and portrays himself as a knight in shining armour come to save the common man. In the short run, this speech is a crowd-pleaser. It pleases the people who showed up to see him swear his oath. It pleases the people who voted for him. It does nothing for anybody else. It’s drug-fueled patriotism. Trump’s America has social, cultural and economic difficulties, but they are largely caused by foreigners, external voices. His pleas to patriotism exonerate the American people from most self-responsibility for their own faults. Global faults. Our faults. It forces a simple remedy – the harsh borders and walls that Trump loves so much. But, it’s a delusion, and therefore, very dangerous as it misdirects attention from the fact that most problems are homegrown, fed on American grassroots. It’s very easy to point and blame; it’s hard to step back and see.
So, I’m going to step back. I’m going to give President Trump a chance. I don’t want to, but he’s there now and we can’t do anything about that. A chance. Nothing more. A chance to better America. A chance to be a strong leader on the political stage.
But, if he squanders that chance. If he ruins it and throws it away, he will go down as the worst president in the history of the United States of America. His inaugural speech has done nothing to quell my anxieties, and all I can do now is watch, on tenterhooks, and hope he plays ball.